A new season full of new optimism and new hope for most football fans. But it was the same old disappointing feeling for Nottingham Forest as they failed to hold on to a one-nil lead against Coventry City, and the Sky Blues rallied late on to win the match with a last-gasp goal. James Edginton reports
Nottingham Forest started the season with a trip to Coventry, who were playing their first match back in the city after spending two years sharing St. Andrews with Birmingham City.
Joe Worrall, who has been the subject of much transfer talk this summer, missed out with a calf injury — while Lewis Grabban was self-isolating — so Ryan Yates captained the side.
Forest had won five of their past six encounters with Coventry, and the Reds took the lead in the 36th minute with Lyle Taylor scoring his first away goal since joining the club.
In a slightly cagey first half, Joe Lolley had tried his luck with a couple of opportunities early on and Taylor also had failed to convert some decent chances shortly after.
However, the former Charlton striker made no mistake when he was excellently assisted by Brennan Johnson. The Forest youngster showed a sharp turn of pace to burst forward, and his lung-busting run took him into an excellent crossing position where he squared the ball for Taylor to prod home.
Johnson could have doubled Forest’s advantage just before the break, but he was denied by Coventry shot-stopper Simon Moore.
It had been an underwhelming return for Coventry, who had been somewhat daunted by the occasion in the first half. But they improved in the second half and Forest’s one-goal lead looked incredibly fragile throughout.
Ben Sheaf’s side-footed effort hit the bar and Martyn Waghorn was denied by Brice Samba as Coventry, spurred on by the crowd, pushed for an equaliser.
Coventry continued to apply pressure on a tiring Forest side and with 10 minutes remaining, Viktor Gyokeres fired home from close range after Forest had failed to clear the ball.
If that was a blow for Forest, the suckerpunch came as Coventry won the game right at the death, in the sixth minute of stoppage time, with Kyle McFadzean squirming a shot past Samba.
Chris Hughton’s side are in action again next Saturday — after Wednesday’s League Cup game at home to Bradford City — when they welcome Scott Parker’s Bournemouth to the City Ground in their first home league match of the season.
The manager said: “I thought for the first 60-65 minutes I was delighted with what I saw from the team and we scored a very good goal. I thought we restricted them to minimal opportunities. They’re a side that have played together for a long time and are very offensive but we limited them to few chances.
“I felt we run out of legs a little bit. We’ve had players that have had to miss a fair bit of training and some players haven’t been able to play as many minutes in pre-season and that showed at the end. If I look at the two goals against us, if those phases of play happened earlier in the game then I think that they’re goals we wouldn’t have conceded.
“At that late stage and with Lyle Taylor, who I thought was very good today, being forced off – it left us without that natural number nine so it was crucial to try and keep a good shape after that and counter-attack. Overall, I felt we were going to hold out and still feel that a draw would’ve been deserved but in the end it just got the better of us.”