Nottingham Forest extended their winning streak to three games in a row, as goals from Brennan Johnson and Lewis Grabban secured a 2-1 win over Blackpool at the City Ground this afternoon. Francis Moore reports
It was a clash of two of the Championship’s in-form sides this afternoon as Nottingham Forest welcomed Blackpool to the City Ground, with both teams having picked up 10 points from their past four games.
Steve Cooper named an unchanged side from the 3-0 win against Birmingham City, while Blackpool made a whole host of changes. Jerry Yates returned to the starting line-up after scoring the winner against Blackburn Rovers. Jordan Gabriel also made a start against his former club.
Blackpool started the game on the front foot. Josh Bowler twice got down the right-hand side, but both crosses were well dealt with.
The game burst into life after 20 minutes. Joe Worrall fired a ball from deep to free Max Lowe on the opposite flank. Lowe was able to square the ball to Brennan Johnson and the EFL’s Young Player of the Month fired past Daniel Grimshaw to open the scoring.
Forest nearly doubled the lead shortly after. Lewis Grabban played Lowe through, who easily skipped past Gabriel — but his effort went just wide of the target.
With minutes to go before half-time, Blackpool thought they had pulled the game level. The Seasiders had numerous efforts blocked on the line, before the danger was finally cleared.
Poor communication in defence led to both Brice Samba and Jed Spence attempting to claim an incoming cross. And Spence’s headed clearance landed straight at the feet of Jerry Yates, who powered his shot into the empty net.
Blackpool had a shout for a penalty on the hour-mark, as Tyreefe John-Jules was tackled in the box by Worrall. But the defender comfortably got the ball.
The game wasn’t level for long. Some nice play from Philip Zinckernagel allowed Worrall to take aim from close range. His effort was denied by Grimshaw, but Lewis Grabban was on hand to convert his fifth goal of the season.
Blackpool then began to dominate. They enjoyed most of the possession whilst keeping Forest penned deep into their own half, but had nothing to show for their efforts.
Joe Lolley’s and Alex Mighten’s introduction freshened up the Forest attack. The former took advantage of the tiring opponents and found Grabban in the box, but the forward failed to convert.
Lolley went forward again, taking on two players before playing to Yates, who was able to find Lowe on the wing. The defender had the chance to finish the fame off but his effort went wide. The game ended 2-1, with Forest taking all three points for a third consecutive game.
It was another great performance from Cooper’s side, with the Reds on top for most of the game and creating the better chances. Forest created plenty of chances, but struggled at converting them. Grabban, who was awarded man of the match, managed to get on the score sheet but should have had at least one more goal on his tally.
At the other end of the pitch, Forest looked defensively sound, aside from their goal leading error in the second half. Blackpool hardly troubled Samba in net, and had communication in the backline been better this could have been a perfect performance.
There was a handful of notable performances as well. Yates looked impressive in midfield, Grabban troubled the Blackpool defence all game, Worrall and McKenna were both solid at the back as well. But Johnson was the highlight for me, the forward was electric on the counter and also chipped in defensively — one of his best performances in the Garibaldi.
It’s now three consecutive wins and five games unbeaten for Nottingham Forest, who are gradually moving towards the play-off places.
Two big games against Bristol City and Fulham are up next. Two fixtures which will show just how far the Reds have come under their new manager.