Nottingham Forest beat Peterborough 2-0 to keep unbeaten run going

Nottingham Forest beat Peterborough United 2-0 at the City Ground yesterday, ending their recent winless run and leaving them just five points from the play-off positions. Francis Moore reports

It’s been a weird couple of weeks for the Reds. Steve Cooper’s side are unbeaten in six, but it’s nearly been a month since their last win.

Fortunately for the hosts, Peterborough travelled to the City Ground with the worst form in the Championship — picking up two points from their last six games, scoring just one goal in the process.

Forest instantly began on front foot. Not a minute into the game, Philip Zinckernagel’s long-range effort called David Cornell into an early save.

The away side were on top for the majority of the first half though. Darren Ferguson’s side linked-up well when moving the ball forward and stifled any signs of a Forest attack.

After some confusion around the decision, Jonson Clarke-Harris stepped up to take a free-kick just outside the Forest area. The Posh striker aimed for goal, but his effort failed to beat the wall.

The hosts had a great opportunity to take the lead early in the second half. Brennan Johnson picked the ball up out wide before curling his effort towards the back post, but James Garner couldn’t convert.

It didn’t take much longer for another chance to fall Forest’s way. Lewis Grabban cut in from the left-hand side before firing wide.

Siriki Dembele, who had been a standout player for the visitors, found himself through on goal, but he dragged his effort wide.

The Reds then burst into life as Zinckernagel once again found himself with a chance to open this scoring, but his effort didn’t hit the target.

With just 20 minutes left to play, Forest finally grabbed the lead. Johnson played a perfect ball across the box, his pass was missed by Grabban but James Garner was on hand to poke the ball home.

And the home side added a second late on. Ryan Yates managed to get on the end of an incoming corner, bundling the ball into the far corner.

Forest’s unbeaten streak extends to seven, after a underwhelming win against Peterborough. Yes, it’s three points, but it was probably one of the worst performances since Cooper’s arrival. Forest looked slow moving forward, and there was very little off-the-ball movement, which hindered any forward progression.

Garner was excellent again, despite his slow start to the season. The Manchester United loanee is becoming a key player in the team, and it seems like he’s rediscovering his form from last campaign.

Most of the praise has to go on the defence though. It’s now three clean sheets in a row, and Scott McKenna and Joe Worrall were at their usual best. Steve Cooper has transformed this Forest defence and it has really has shown in recent performances.

Going forward Forest struggled. They hardly created anything before the final 30 minutes, and there were far too many efforts that failed to trouble Cornell in the Peterborough goal. With January around the corner, it seems almost certain Forest need to invest in a new striker and a new attacking outlet — otherwise this team will continue to struggle for goals.

Despite the performance, it’s still a good three points for Forest, who are now just five points off the play-offs. With fixtures against Swansea, Hull, Middlesbrough, Huddersfield and Barnsley to come in the next month, this is a perfect opportunity for the Reds to break into the top six, and keep their good form going.

Cooper said: “First half, we didn’t play anywhere near our level of what I expect from the team. We are a much better team than what we were in the first half, and I didn’t like our intensity with or without the ball.

“I didn’t feel like we got up to Peterborough players and win the ball back off them enough. I didn’t feel like we moved the ball quick enough, it was obvious that switching the play would be key to creating attacks, but we didn’t see it quick enough.

“In the second half, we did all of those things that weren’t quite right really well and the game was played in the Peterborough half. We got the breakthrough which I felt was coming and then managed to see it out with a second goal from a great delivery.

“Second half we were excellent, but if we want to win games on a regular basis, we’ve got to play two halves like we did the second. I’m happy with the win, happy with another clean sheet, happy with two goals scored at home, but at the same time we know we’ve got to do a bit better in certain areas.”