Fans do Forest proud in cup exit, now Reds aim to hit top spot at Stoke
Forest were always prioritising Friday’s Championship game with Stoke, but their supporters did themselves proud once again away at Arsenal in the cup.
It’s been a strange week for the Reds, scraping a home win against Barnsley before the razzmatazz of a League Cup tie at the Emirates Stadium.
The Barnsley game was won courtesy of the only passage of quality by Forest on the day.
A sweeping move from left to right was eventually, and beautifully, tucked away by Ben Watson.
Watson has come in for criticism from some supporters this season but like Michael Dawson and Joe Worrall, the manager has confidence in him and that’s good enough for me.
The win against struggling Barnsley meant that if Sabri Lamouchi’s men can produce a third league victory on the bounce at Stoke, Forest will sit at the top of the Championship table for the first time this season.
Sabri Lamouchi made several changes to his starting line up in London on Tuesday.
And, even though almost 8,500 Reds supporters had bought tickets for the contest, they were intelligent and pragmatic enough to accept that this was the right move to make by the gaffer.
Despite limiting the Gunners to a solitary goal until the final 20 minutes, the floodgates opened, and the Premier League side truly showed their class. However, the swathes of Forest fans within the stadium never stopped singing and once again proved that they are one of the most loyal fanbases in Britain, if not Europe.
The experience of meeting Arsenal again will hopefully be replicated in the Premier League next season, after what’s seemed an eternity in the lower leagues.
Tuesday’s clash had a twist of irony about it though.
Arsenal haven’t played outside England’s top flight for 104 years.
Their last ever game in the old second division? Saturday 24th April 1915 - a 7-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at Highbury!
There were indeed positives to take from this latest defeat.
Lamouchi seized the opportunity to bed in Chema once more and give first team debuts to Alex Mighten and Jordan Gabriel (formerly an Arsenal youth player). Both youngsters have huge potential.
Mighten is widely regarded as the next big thing, but Gabriel is a player who blew me away when I saw him playing for Forest’s U18s18s back in 2015. Once again, the work of Gary Brazil and co at the Nigel Doughty academy is bearing some exciting fruits.
So, we now focus on beating Stoke City to claim top spot in the Championship table this Friday.
The Potters are in freefall and pressure must surely be mounting upon manager Nathan Jones, a man who I once tipped to take the Forest job.
To say they’re there for the taking is an understatement - no league wins all season and unceremoniously dumped out of the League Cup by Crawley earlier this week.
In my opinion, Forest must take this golden opportunity and go for the jugular if they’re serious about promotion this season.
It doesn’t matter how they go about it, but when you’re faced by a club on such a low ebb as Stoke, it’s very much a case of ‘carpe diem’.
Even though Friday’s game will be televised, Forest are once again expected to fill their allocation, which is the maximum allowance of just under 3,000 tickets.
When you consider that most of those travelling have already been to London, for a midweek fixture 72 hours previous, it’s truly amazing.
I cannot speak highly enough of Forest supporters right now and I honestly believe their commitment will be rewarded come May 2020.