One win in seven for the home side, one win in 12 for the visitors. Although both those positive results were in Brentford and Forest’s last game in midweek. Only one side could make it two on the bounce in a fixture where the home team hadn’t won in the past four meetings.
After breaking his jaw in Forest’s win against Brighton, Neco Williams was replaced by skipper Joe Worrall as the Reds aimed to win a game in the capital for the first time this season. Following a Wednesday night win against Chelsea, Thomas Frank’s Brentford switched to four at the back as their side included striker Ivan Toney, the Englishman with a goal in both of his previous league games against Forest.
Both sides had less than 30% possession in their midweek wins, so it was no surprise that neither team looked assured and in control early on. The only early openings came on the counter-attack, with a low Serge Aurier cross the closest to an early chance; easy for Bees ‘keeper David Raya to claim.
A very even contest would see little in front of goal as defences were on top, with Taiwo Awoniyi having the game’s first real chance four minutes before the break. After Aurier won back possession on the right wing, a flighted Brennan Johnson cross was headed over by the Nigerian, with pressure from Raya and defender Ben Mee.
A minute later Keylor Navas was called into action to keep his side level, following a long throw. The Costa Rican did well to save a close-range attempt from Ethan Pinnock before reacting quickly to save the follow up from midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard.
Forest had three corners and numerous set-piece deliveries to keep out in the first period, which they did with relative ease, and seized a late chance with seconds until the break.
It was a long throw from Moussa Niakhaté that produced the goods, as the ball fell nicely for Morgan Gibbs-White to drive goalwards from the edge of the box. The midfielder’s strike was deflected into the path of Danilo, with the Brazilian making no mistake to grab a golden goal, his second in as many matches.
An average first half ended in a Forest lead, with the away end bouncing and in full voice throughout the interval and into the second half. However, Forest had conceded two or more goals in their last six away games, so it certainly wasn’t game over.
The Reds’ attempt at getting a second goal was severely hampered when Awoniyi was replaced by André Ayew after just nine second half minutes, the Ghanaian offering no pace or threat compared to Awoniyi for the rest of the game.
Trailing in the game, Brentford had to come at Forest and try to break down their low block, a tactic that limited the Bee’s pacey, counter-attacking style. It was Forest that offered the most threat, as Niakhaté saw an ambitious overhead kick collected by Raya following a deep free kick on 73 minutes.
As the Reds continued to keep their hosts out, every block and tackle was cheered like a goal by the Forest faithful, travelling in numbers and in voice to the left of Navas’s goal. Ben Mee saw Niakhaté’s acrobatic effort and had a go himself with 11 minutes to play, his hopeful strike flying well over the crossbar.
However, just as a second away league win of the season was beginning to feel plausible, Forest were victims of their own downfall on 82 minutes.
After conceding a free-kick in a dangerous area, 25 yards out on the right, Forest’s defensive wall parted like the Red Sea as substitute Cheikhou Kouyaté jumped out of the way of Ivan Toney’s strike, the ball flying into Navas’s near post.
Suddenly dreaming of a win turned to praying for a draw, with Forest ending the game with 10 men following the seemingly weekly new injury, this time to in-form midfielder and goalscorer Danilo. Navas was on hand to keep Frank Onyeka out in the final minute of the 90, diving to his left to keep out the Nigerian’s deflected effort.
Forest were made to pay for time wasting earlier on as seven minutes of stoppage time were indicated and in the fourth minute of the seven, the inevitable happened. Substitute Josh Dasilva danced past Renan Lodi on the right wing before his powerful shot beat Navas at his near post and awakening the Gtech from its 90-minute hibernation.
Despite looking more assured over recent weeks, that’s four mistakes leading to a goal in Navas’s last six outings, make of that what you will. And despite a very even contest, an away win once again eluded the travelling fans, with their side destined to end the weekend in the bottom three following the Monday night fixture between Leicester and Everton.
A home game against Southampton looks all the more important for Nottingham Forest, as their survival race carries on into the final four games of the season.