Nottingham Forest 2-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 1st Dec 2018 17:04
Two first-half Lewis Grabban goals saw Nottingham Forest to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Town at the City Ground. Grabban followed up a rebound to open the scoring in the ninth minute then, after Kayden Jackson had headed the Blues’ best opportunity wide, added the second on 38.
Blues boss Paul Lambert handed 18-year-old Jack Lankester his full debut and Teddy Bishop his first start of the season as he made four changes.
Academy product Lankester, the first player born in the 2000s to appear for the Town first team having previously made four sub appearances, started on the left of the midfield three with Bishop on the right, Trevoh Chalobah, who was among the subs, and Flynn Downes, who missed out on a place in the 18, having dropped out of the XI for the first time under Lambert.
Jackson came into the team for Jordan Roberts as the central striker with the ex-Crawley man also among the subs. Grant Ward, making his first appearance under Lambert, was on the right.
Skipper Luke Chambers was making his 300th appearance for the Blues against his old club in an unchanged back four.
Forest made three changes from the team which drew 5-5 at Villa on Wednesday with Michael Hefele in for the suspended Tobias Figueiredo, while Adlene Guedioura and Gil Dias took over from Claudio Yacob and Matty Cash, who dropped to the bench.
Ex-Blues loanee Jack Colback started, while former striker Daryl Murphy was among the subs having returned from illness.
Town made a bright start, Lankester sending Jackson away down the left but the former Accrington man’s cross was cut out.
On six Ward claimed a penalty when he looked to be tripped by Colback in the area, however neither the former Blues loanee nor referee James Linington were impressed.
But it was the home side who would take the lead with their first serious attack of the afternoon in the ninth minute.
Right-back Tendayi Darikwa struck a powerful shot from distance which Bialkowski couldn’t hold on to and former Canary Grabban followed up to net his 14th goal of the season. The ball appeared to move in the air but the Polish international, currently going through his toughest spell with the Blues, will again feel he ought to have done better.
Lankester, who has been with the Blues since he was six years old, created an opportunity for Jackson in the 15th minute, threading the ball through for the pacy frontman. However, he screwed his shot well wide.
Having gained their lead Forest confidently controlled the game but without forcing Bialkowski to make a save until the 23rd minute when Joe Lolley hit an effort from the right which the Pole claimed comfortably.
The Blues began to get back into the game and in the 25th minute they should have equalised.
Bishop brought the ball away from his man on halfway and took it forward before feeding Ward to his right. The former Spurs youngster whipped over a cross which Jackson flicked past Forest keeper Costel Pantilimon but also past his right post.
Jackson went close again two minutes later after catching Forest skipper Michael Dawson in possession. The striker brought the ball forward to the edge of the box before hitting a powerful effort which Pantilimon blocked. Lankester running in on the loose ball with Gil Dias was only able to direct it back to the keeper.
Town had briefly begun to look the more likely scorers of the game’s next goal but right on the half-hour the home side almost doubled their lead.
Darikwa crossed from the right to the far post and Joao Carvalho nodded back across the face and struck the opposite upright.
It was a lucky escape for the Blues, who subsequently found themselves pressed back in their half as Forest dominated possession.
And in the 38th minute they scored a well-worked second goal. Carvalho found Darikwa on the right and the Zimbabwean international sent the ball across the face of goal to Grabban, who found the net at the far post to take his total for the season to 15, all of them in the space of the last 15 games.
Forest, with their confidence having unsurprisingly increased since their second goal, put the Blues under more and more pressure as half-time approached, Darikwa hitting a 42nd-minute shot from distance that Bialkowski palmed over. Following the corner, Colback shot over.
Skuse was booked for a foul on Lolley moments before the fourth official held up a board indicating four further minutes.
The half ended with Forest deserving their lead having been on top and in control for most of the period.
Bialkowski will feel he should have held on to Darikwa’s shot for the first goal, although it was hit with power, while Grabban shouldn’t have been allowed to reach the rebound first. For the second goal Forest slickly passed their way through the Blues’ defence.
Town’s best chance was Jackson’s header at 1-0 which the frontman probably should have put away but other than that and his shot from distance soon afterwards the Blues had rarely threatened.
The Blues needed an early second-half goal if they were to get anything from the game and in the first minute following the restart Knudsen crossed from the left, the ball reached Jordan Spence beyond the far post but the former West Ham right-back was unable to get a clean contact on his volley.
Forest almost made it 3-0 two minutes later when they hit the woodwork for the second time. Carvalho sent over a freekick from the left which Michael Hefele headed on to Bialkowski’s right post and into the keeper’s arms.
Sears hit a looping effort from distance which Pantilimon turned over, then at the other end Cole Skuse blocked a shot from Lolley.
Lankester feinted his way into space before hitting a defender with a shot from distance prior to Hefele picking up a booking for a foul on Ward.
Grabban was inches way from his hat-trick in the 58th minute, outpacing Chambers and then the advancing Bialkowski for a ball played down the Forest left. The 30-year-old, who netted twice in the 5-5 draw with Villa, looped a shot from a tight angle towards goal but the ball bounced off the top of the bar and over.
Moments later Town made a double substitution with Jackson and Ward making way for Roberts and Chalobah.
The Blues were making little headway as they sought an unlikely comeback, however, on 70 Lankester curled a 25-yard strike only just past Pantilimon’s right post.
Two minutes later, the Blues swapped Bishop, who had shown glimpses of the form which made him one of the stars of Town’s 2014/15 play-off campaign, for Jon Nolan.
Forest had been happy to sit in and prevent Town from getting a foothold back in the game for much of the second half but on 73 Lolley burst through a number of Blues before hitting a low shot from the edge of the box which Bialkowski grabbed down to his left.
Pantilimon was booked for time-wasting in the 82nd minute, somewhat needlessly with Forest looking comfortable despite the Blues seeing more of the ball in the latter stages.
Knudsen blocked from Grabban from an angle on the right on 85, then a minute later seemed certain to complete his hat-trick a minute later when found unmarked in the centre of the area, however, Matthew Pennington made a superb saving challenge as he prepared to shoot.
That was the two-goal striker’s final action of the afternoon with Karim Ansarifard replacing him for the final two and a half minutes.
The sub missed a golden chance to make it 3-0 a minute after coming on but scuffed wide having been found unmarked and with time to pick his spot by Dias. After seven minutes of injury time the Blues’ third successive defeat was confirmed by referee Linington.
The Blues had never looked like getting anything from the game in the second half with the match having been all but won before the break.
Forest were happy enough to stick with their two-goal lead for the most part but were unfortunate not to add to it via their two second-half efforts which hit the woodwork, while Lankester, one of the Blues’ brighter performers on his full debut, was unlucky that his curling effort didn’t arc inside the post.
The game took a predictable path after Forest had scored their early first-half goal with the home side, who are up to fifth, never really looking in any trouble.
Town remain bottom now seven points from safety with 21st-placed Reading having drawn 2-2 with Stoke City, who the Blues visit next Saturday, while Bolton, 22nd, drew 1-1 with Wigan and Hull, now 19th, won 3-2 at QPR. The gap could extend to nine if Millwall win at Bristol City on Sunday.
Nottingham Forest: Pantilimon, Darikwa, Dawson (c) (Osborn 79), Hefele, Robinson, Guedioura, Colback, Dias (Cash 90), Carvalho, Lolley, Grabban (Ansarifard 88). Unused: Steele, Murphy, Janko, Yacob, Ansarifard.
Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers (c), Pennington, Knudsen, Skuse, Ward (Chalobah 59), Bishop (Nolan 72), Lankester, Sears, Jackson (Roberts 59). Unused: Gerken, Donacien, Rowe, Dozzell. Referee: James Linington (Newport IoW). Att: 27,873.
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