Nottingham Forest Leave it Late as Joe Lolley Strike Secures First Win

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Joe Lolley‘s 89th-minute deflected strike sealed Nottingham Forest all three points at Blackburn Rovers in Chris Hughton’s first match in charge.

Lolley to the Rescue as Late Strike Seals Points for Nottingham Forest

Reds Leave it Late to Defeat Stubborn Blackburn Rovers

Nottingham Forest recorded their first victory of the season, in new boss Hughton’s first outing, thanks to Lolley’s late strike.

The winger, who had impressed throughout the match, cleverly beat his marker on 89 minutes and watched as his left-footed effort deflected off a defender and beyond the wrong-footed Thomas Kaminski.

The fixture at Ewood Park was hardly a classic for the neutral, but Forest will be pleased to have wrapped up their first set of maximum points regardless.

Chris Hughton made four changes to the Nottingham Forest side that was beaten 2-1 by Bristol City before the break – Sabri Lamouchi‘s fateful final game in charge.

Resorting to a 4-2-3-1 formation, a system familiar under his predecessor at the City Ground, Cyrus Christie, Tobias Figueiredo, Scott McKenna and Nicholas Ioannou made up the defensive back four.

Ryan Yates, returning to the starting eleven for the first time since September 19, partnered Jack Colback in a defensive midfield role.

Sammy Ameobi and Joe Lolley occupied the left and right wings respectively, Luke Freeman sat just behind Lewis Grabban in attack.

First Half

Forest came bursting out the blocks at Ewood Park and came close to opening the scoring inside the first minute.

Attacking midfielder Freeman was given time and space to fizz a low cross into the penalty in the direction of Grabban. The Forest forward tried to force Thomas Kaminski into a save but was unable to wrap his foot around the ball, with his shot lacking any considerable power.

Samba was called into action on ten minutes when the hosts had their first sight of goal, but the 26-year-old was barely threatened by the eventual tame strike.

Further chances fell to Ameobi, who ended up winning a foul in a wide position, and Colback – whose powerful cross was blocked by Daniel Ayala – but the hosts remained defensively resilient.

It was, however, a rather scrappy opening 30 minutes. Figueiredo’s clumsy challenge on the right flank – in which he then recalled the ball into his chest – led to the first yellow card being brandished on 28 minutes.

Ioannou, retaining his place in the starting eleven following his debut before the international break, created an opportunity for Grabban, but the forward was unable to keep his header on-target.

The first shot on-goal throughout the match eventually fell to Ben Brereton on 41 minutes, but the left-sided winger’s effort was tame and easy to gather for Samba.

It proved to be the final chance of the half though, with referee Jarred Gillett blowing half-time on a less than invigorating 45 minutes.

Second Half

Forest were forced into a change early in the second half when Colback – who had previously gone down holding his ankle late in the first half – received treatment. The defensive midfielder, who had looked composed and resolute ahead of the defensive line, was replaced by Harry Artur.

Yates came close with a headed effort for Forest on 49 minutes, connecting with Grabban’s deep cross, but was unable to keep it on target.

The hosts made a change for their own after 53 minutes, replacing Tyrhys Dolah with Sam Gallagher as Tony Mowbray’s side went in search of a goal.

Lolley, beating his marker on the left-wing, curled an excellent cross into the box ahead of Grabban, Yates and Freeman on the hour-mark – none, however, could poke the delivery beyond Kaminski.

The Reds had another chance to score when Freeman’s corner met the darting run of Figueiredo inside the six-yard box. The Portuguese central defender, however, powered his header against the ground and into the Rovers ‘keeper’s arms.

Changes for both sides followed, with Harry Chapman on for John Buckley and Grabban replaced by Lyle Taylor, and chances soon began to emerge more often.

Both Ameobi and Taylor forced Kaminski into action with fiercely driven strikes – the latter’s attempt almost sneaking in at the near post – but the scores remained level.

Verdict

Talk about doing it the Forest way. Based on 89 minutes of the fixture, Chris Hughton will have been neither pleased nor disappointed with his side’s showing at Ewood Park.

During a dogged first-half performance, the Reds seemingly nullified Adam Armstrong – no easy feat given his goalscoring record this season already stands at five – but offered little up-front.

It was a similar story in the second half, with a tight defensive line and good work-rate, but the scrappy nature of the game suggested it would only take one moment of magic to separate the two teams.

Ameobi and Taylor arguably provided Forest’s two best attacking moments, arrowing shots from opposite corners of the box into Kaminski’s palms, but at best the visitors were forced to strike from range.

But Lolley’s late deflected strike will send Hughton home happy. It was by no means a classic, it was anything but. Scrappy from start to finish, chances fair and few between them, but grinding out victories is crucial in building momentum – and that is perhaps what the former Brighton & Hove Albion boss has begun with his new team.

 

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