More often than not, I’ve ended up having to work a late shift when Coventry City have had a midweek game this season, and tonight was no different as the Sky Blues travelled across the Midlands to Nottingham for a bit of Championship action at the City Ground. I was expecting a tricky game tonight, with Forest needing points to remain in the hunt for the Play Offs - it’s not mathematically impossible for us to finish up there either, but as I’ve explained in recent blogs I think it’s a bit beyond us now.
As a result of my work schedule, I ended up missing the entire first half of the game so please forgive me if my assessment of tonight’s result isn’t fully accurate! I’ve done my best based on what I’ve seen in the second half. I missed the opening goal of course, but I was able to switch on in time for the half time highlights on iFollow - it was a soft goal to concede, I think Todd Kane was guilty of ball watching and not tracking the runner on the left hand side for Forest, who would ultimately play the ball across the face of goal. What happened at the back post was unlucky, Jake Bidwell and Simon Moore did everything they could to keep the ball out but they just about weren’t able to in the end! Brennan Johnson managed to lift the ball over Moore after Bidwell had prevented it from going over the line, Simon Moore narrowed the angle quickly as well - there was nothing more to be done!
It looked like we had a couple of decent chances in the first half, with Callum O’Hare having the best of them. By the sounds of it, we had been competitive throughout the game and so I was hopeful that we’d come out swinging after the break. I noted that Fankaty Dabo had started at left wing back today, with Ian Maatsen being rested. Ben Sheaf had come back into the side as well in favour of a box midfield, with Viktor Gyokeres as our lone striker. We looked pretty sharp as the second half started, bringing an intensity to the game and it looked like we were worrying the home side a little. We had a couple of half chances, the best of which was an absolute rocket from Ben Sheaf which needed a strong hand from Forest keeper Brice Samba to keep it out.
We looked like we were the better side, playing some good football and keeping the pressure on Forest, however it wasn’t long before we had conceded again. Keinan Davis was allowed to muscle his way through our defence around 25 yards away from goal, and some space opened up for him to slide the ball through to James Garner who had been allowed to run through with nobody tracking him. Garner duly finished the chance and from there, there was never really any way back for us. The goal had certainly come against the run of play, but we hadn’t been clinical enough so far and Forest had punished us for it - it’s those kind of things that make a big difference between a side in 11th and a side in 5th!
Mark Robins responded by making a couple of changes - Fabio Tavares and Ian Maatsen were introduced with Todd Kane and Ben Sheaf making way, but unfortunately neither player would make much of an impact on the game. There was an incident in the stands which stopped the game shortly after the subs were made, with a fan in the home end requiring medical attention. My best wishes go out to them! When the play restarted, Forest actually looked stronger now they had scored a second goal, and at one point they could and arguably should have had a penalty - Fankaty Dabo appeared to grapple with Keinan Davis to send him to ground inside the area, but the referee thankfully waved play on. Callum O’Hare had a chance for us after some nice build up play had seen him earn a chance to shoot inside the area, but his attempt was no trouble for Samba in the end.
Ultimately, Forest stood firm and denied our attempts to get a goal back in the dying stages of the game. They almost grabbed a third, after the ball dropped to Ryan Yates from a corner and he rattled the crossbar with a toe poke towards goal. It’s a shame we couldn’t come away with something, but I can’t say I expected much if I’m being honest! Next up we travel to Fulham on Sunday - again, I’m not expecting much!
One positive from tonight was that youngster Ryan Howley was given some minutes on the pitch as a late sub for Gustavo Hamer. I think he’s a player with a bright future, and it’s nice to see him being given a chance even if it was only for a short cameo. We’re essentially just playing for pride now, especially after losing tonight, so why not give the kids a go?
No late heroics tonight from us tonight, I hope we’ve saved them for Craven Cottage!