When you spend big money on players, you expect big moments in return and Lewis Grabban, assisted by Joao Carvalho, provided just that on Saturday as Nottingham Forest edged past Sheffield United by the solitary goal to nil.
There have been plenty of column inches devoted to Nottingham Forest’s summer spending spree with manager Aitor Karanka heavily backed in the market and last season’s squad almost entirely overhauled.
That turnover in playing staff continued even this week when the Reds finally announced the singing of Iranian striker Karim Ansarifad.
Grabban and Carvalho were arguably the two marquee signings from Forest’s shopping list, Grabban arriving from AFC Bournemouth with Carvalho joining for a club record fee from Benfica.
The experienced Grabban joined for a fee believed to be around £6 million and immediately looked like something of a bargain when compared to some of the other fees in the Championship.
Grabban has scored goals throughout his career and after something of a slow start to life at Forest, is now in a rich vein of form, scoring ten goals in his last 11 appearances.
Carvalho was much more of an unknown prospect when he arrived from Portugal for 15m euros in June but it was clear that he had lots of talent. There’s no doubt that he has had quiet games and spells but as he gets used to his new surroundings, the number ten is becoming a crucial cog in Karanka’s side.
On Saturday, Forest were locked in a tight clash with Sheffield United who came into the game in first place in the Championship. Neither side had really gone close to breaking the deadlock in the first half but in the 69th minute, Forest scored what proved to be the winning goal.
The visitors thought they had cleared the ball for a throw-in but Carvalho charged to the left flank to keep the ball in. The 21 year old then skipped past a United player before delivering a beautiful ball onto the head of Grabban who, from only a few yards out, had the simple task of directing it into the far corner.
It was the only real moment of quality either side had in the final thirds, and with the Championship table currently looking incredibly tight, it could prove to be an invaluable three points for Karanka’s men.
The win pushed them into the play-off places and after recent good results against Middlesbrough, Bolton and Leeds, the Reds will now be looking to stake their claim for an automatic promotion spot.
There’s still a lot of football to be played and the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but moments like Saturday prove why Forest splashed the cash to bring the likes of Carvalho and Grabban in and shows just how crucial the pair are.
Karanka spoke post-match about Carvalho and claimed he will only get better as the season goes on. If that’s the case, Forest fans should expect more match-winning moments from their Portugese playmaker.