|Nottingham Forest 2 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 14th April 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Nottingham Forest 2-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 14th Apr 2018 17:15
Caretaker-boss Bryan Klug was denied a first match victory as Nottingham Forest staged a remarkable last-gasp turnaround at the City Ground. The Blues had gone ahead via Grant Ward in the 38th minute and looked set to hold on to their lead until their goalscorer bundled Ben Brereton over and, after the England U19 international had netted from the spot in the final minute, Joe Lolley smashed home a volley deep in injury time to win it for Forest, who had previously gone six games without a goal.
Striker Ben Morris, 18, was handed his full debut, having previously made two sub appearances in the Championship in addition another game from the bench in the Carabao Cup match at Crystal Palace in August, and up front with Martyn Waghorn.
Klug stuck with the back three in which the Blues have lined up in recent weeks with Jordan Spence on the right, Cameron Carter-Vickers in the centre and Jonas Knudsen on the left.
Ward was at right wing-back, a role in which Klug used to play him during their days together in the Tottenham academy, with Barry Cotter, who impressed on his debut on Tuesday, dropping to the bench. Myles Kenlock was at left wing-back.
In central midfield, stand-in skipper Cole Skuse played behind Luke Hyam and Tristan Nydam. Bersant Celina missed out as he is unwell.
Forest, who went in to the match without a goal in their last six games, included ex-Town loanee Jack Colback in an unchanged starting XI but Daryl Murphy is still sidelined with a calf injury.
After a quiet opening the home side were gifted a golden opportunity to go in front in the 11th minute when Ward gave the ball away to Ben Osborn on the edge of the box when under no pressure. Osborn took it into the area but was prevented from scoring Forest’s first goal in 563 minutes of football by the advancing Bartosz Bialkowski.
Chances continued to be rare at both ends but with Forest having most of the ball until Joe Lolley hit a low 19th minute effort from distance which Bialkowski palmed wide to his right.
The home side began to put the Blues under increased pressure. Adlene Guedioura was unable to make proper contact with a cross from the left on 24, then Ben Brereton struck a powerful shot from distance which Bialkowski pushed behind. From the resultant corner, Ben Watson nodded only just wide at the far post.
At the other end Town, with Klug remaining on the bench alongside injured skipper Luke Chambers and assistants Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg patrolling the technical area, hadn’t seriously threatened, but in the 38th minute they went in front.
Kenlock slammed over a cross from the left and Ward diverted the first goal of the four-game Klug era past Costel Pantilimon at the far post, perhaps without knowing too much about it.
The goal gave the Blues more confidence and in the single minute of injury time Spence brought the ball forward from deep and fed Waghorn running into the box on the right. Town’s top scorer’s deep cross reached Nydam beyond the far post and the England U19 international’s cross deflected off a Forest player and hit the top of the bar.
Shortly afterwards, the referee ended the half, prompting boos from a home support who had gone 596 minutes without seeing their side score.
However, that drought really should have ended when Ward presented Osborn with a gilt-edged chance early on, while Bialkowski had been the busier of the two keepers, even if the Polish international had hardly been peppered with shots.
Town had defended in the resolute manner which became their stock in trade under Mick McCarthy and took their one chance when it came, although Ward may not have known a huge about it as Kenlock’s cross struck him in the face and beat Pantilimon.
The Blues started the second half in the manner they had ended the first with Nydam having a shot blocked inside the area after Ward had found him having beaten Osborn down the right, by no means for the first time.
At the other end Guedioura went well wide with a stooping header, before Luke Hyam went within a couple of inches of scoring his first goal for three and a half years.
Waghorn played a great pass into the midfielder’s path on the right of the box and he struck a shot which flew across the face and wide.
Town started to put the home side under pressure. Waghorn cut in from the left but was crowded out and from the resultant corner, the first of several flag-kicks on the left, Danny Fox just got in ahead of Carter-Vickers as he slid in to add the final touch after Knudsen had flicked on.
Morris sent Nydam away with a clever pass on halfway but the young midfielder was out-muscled as he burst forward towards the Forest box.
On 56 Morris, who otherwise had had a quiet game, was replaced by former Forest man Carayol, then a minute later Town’s other 18-year-old Nydam was switched for Callum Connolly. Just before the hour the home side swapped Guedioura for Matty Cash.
Forest were having most of the ball but without creating a significant opportunity, while the Blues were beginning to look a threat on the break. On 65 Carayol burst away down the left but failed to find Waghorn or Connolly with his pass across the edge of the box.
Five minutes later Carayol, who left the City Ground in January prior to joining the Blues, broke away pacily again and fed Waghorn to his left. However, the ex-Rangers man’s chip was never going to beat the lofty Pantilimon in the Forest goal.
Ward was shown the game’s first yellow card on 73 for pulling back Lolley as hebroke following a Town freekick. Tomlin curled the subsequent set piece well over.
Match Gallery: 6 photos
Forest made a double change in the 78th minute as they looked for an equaliser and an end to their long wait for a goal, Tomlin and Watson were replaced by Apostolos Vellios and Liam Bridcutt.
Town, who been better in possession in the second half, went close to adding to their lead as the game entered it’s final 10 minutes. After excellent work from Kenlock on the left, Waghorn teed-up Carayol, who took the ball wider than he would have wanted to and shot back beyond the post from the left of the area.
Brereton was booked for an obvious dive as he took the ball past Bialkowski, then the Blues keeper was forced into a rare second half save when he tipped Lolley’s shot from distance over.
Hyam was replaced by Stephen Gleeson in the 84th minute, then Forest thought they were about to get their goal when Brereton was threaded in on goal but found Bialkowski in his way.
But with a minute of scheduled time remaining, the home side finally ended their long way to hit the net from the penalty spot.
Ward awkwardly bundled Brereton as he broke forward inside the box and referee Darren England pointed to the spot. Carter-Vickers in particular complained bitterly to the official, but the decision stood and Brereton slammed the ball low into the left corner of Bialkowski’s net ending 640 goalless minutes for Forest.
In five minutes of injury time Bridcutt curled a shot to Bialkowski’s left which the keeper was able to claim, but moments later the home side claimed what only a few moments earlier had looked an unlikely win.
Brereton crossed deep from the right and Lolley met the ball perfectly on the volley to smash into the roof of Bialkowski’s net.
There was no time for shell-shocked Town to hit back and Klug’s first game in charge ended in a defeat after a remarkable late turnaround.
Forest had spent most of the half unable to create anything significant with Town having had chances to win which they will feel they might well have taken.
The penalty boosted the home side’s confidence and got the crowd behind them in the closing minutes with Lolley’s winner a superb strike, if a heart-breaking one for Town, who certainly deserved at least something from the match.
The Blues have still not won at the City Ground since 1999 and have now conceded penalties in each of their last three away matches, all of which have been scored. Keeper Bialkowski has been beaten by penalties in four of his last six matches for Town and Poland.
Klug’s side now have a week in which to dust themselves down before they’re next in action at Portman Road on Saturday when they take on Aston Villa at Portman Road.
Forest: Pantilimon, Figuereido, Guedioura (Cash 59), Osborn, Fox, Tomlin, Brereton, Colback, Lolley, Darikwa, Watson (c). Unused: Kapino, Lichaj, Mancienne, Bridcutt, Dowell, Vellios.
Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Carter-Vickers, Knudsen, Ward, Skuse (c), Hyam (Gleeson 84), Nydam (Connolly 57), Kenlock, Morris (Carayol 56), Waghorn. Unused: M Crowe, Sears, Folami, Cotter. Referee: Darren England (South Yorkshire). Att: 25,093.
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