REPORT: TOWN 2-1 FORESTTown recorded a fourth straight win for the first time under David Wagner’s stewardship on Boxing Day, coming from behind to beat visitors Nottingham Forest in deserved fashion at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Town dominated most of the game, recording 70% possession through the 90 minutes, but had to come back after a sucker-punch goal from Hildeberto Pereira put them behind at the interval.
In the end, two own goals sealed the comeback – although Kasey Palmer will be claiming the first after his header wen in via a rebound!
The win was an eighth in the last 11 at the John Smith’s Stadium, maintaining Town’s excellent home record ahead of the New Year’s Eve visit of Blackburn Rovers.
Forest surprisingly played full back Pereira up front alongside Nicklas Bendtner in a 3-5-2 formation and soon forced Town’s debutant goalkeeper Joel Coleman into action. The former Oldham Athletic man, in for the unwell Danny Ward, had to react sharply to come and collect a low ball from among a crowd of players as the visitors attacked from the first whistle.
However, Town soon took control of general play. The first chance came in the ninth minute when Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, in for Chris Löwe, found Kasey Palmer with a superb infield pass. The Chelsea loanee rolled past Michael Mancienne perfectly to face goal, but he was on a different wavelength to Nahki Wells and sent the final pass away from the striker’s run.
Rajiv van La Parra was next to try his luck, driving in from the left side past Pereira to find space in the penalty area. Unfortunately, his low, curling effort was always going wide of the far post.
Then, against the run of play, Forest took the lead. Former Arsenal striker Bendtner smashed the ball against the legs of Christopher Schindler and the ricochet set Pereira clear. Michael Hefele tried to get goal side of the opponent, but Pereira had enough pace to race clear. Bearing down on Coleman, he expertly clipped the ball over the goalkeeper to give his side the lead.
Town continued to press, with Palmer turning past Mancienne just before the half hour mark before finding Wells on the edge of the box. The Bermudian side-stepped a defender to make room for the shot, but sent his curling effort wide, like van La Parra earlier.
The imperious Aaron Mooy tested goalkeeper Stojkovic with a long range free kick as Town continued to press, with the best chance of the half coming inside the 36th minute. Visiting left back Eric Lichaj was dispossessed and Town played in the vacant space, with Kachunga picking up the ball and driving infield.
Kache played the ball square to Palmer and the midfielder found Elias with a superb first time return as he burst into the area. Kache tried to find Wells with the square pass, taking the goalkeeper out of the game, but the ball just evaded the striker before right wing back Cash cleared behind.
Mooy continued to pull the strings, with his 41st minute pass into Wells’ feet allowing the striker to take an excellent first touch past Matt Mills. Unfortunately, his long-range effort wasn’t as impressive, with the ball flying over.
Kachunga and Holmes-Dennis tried their luck from distance as the half concluded, with centre back Jack Hobbs also making an excellent block on Mooy’s pull back as he entered the penalty box in added time.
Town played against a strong wind in the second half, but continued to dominate the opposition – and were soon rewarded with two goals before the hour mark.
A corner was the source of the 53rd minute equaliser. Holmes-Dennis made his way to the left and pulled a low ball to the edge of the penalty area for Mooy’s late run. The Aussie uncharacteristically miscued his shot, but the ball ended up on the head of Kasey Palmer. He hit the bar, but as Stojkovic dived the ball ricocheted off his back and into the net.
Coleman was alert to catch a Joe Worrall header from range after an Osborn free kick at the other end, but there was nothing his Forest equivalent could do to stop the eventual winner in the 59th minute.
Some excellent, patient passing down the Town right led to the goal, with the Terriers not rushing to cross the ball and waiting for the right opportunity. The ball was eventually worked to van La Parra, who had switched flanks to collect a pass and whip a dangerous low cross into the danger zone. Mancienne, facing his own goal, tried to clear it at the near post, but only succeeded in steering the ball inside the far post.
Forest soon introduced the dangerous Britt Assombalonga on his return from injury to bolster their attacking options, but Hefele got hold of him and negated his threat. His best effort came 17 minutes from time, curling a pass from Bendtner over the bar from 20 yards.
Instead the Terriers pushed on. Chris Löwe volleyed over after Wells just failed to get on the end of his initial cross at the near post and Jack Payne was denied a goal by a great save after collecting a poor back pass and charging at goal from the left flank.
In the end, Forest’s woes were compounded as Mancienne was shown a second yellow in the final minute of normal time. Having dragged Kasey Palmer back to earn his first booking earlier in the half, he slammed the ball to the ground in frustration after a throw-in went against him to get his marching orders.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Joel Coleman; Tareiq Holmes-Dennis (Chris Löwe, 60’), Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Tommy Smith (c); Aaron Mooy, Jonathan Hogg; Rajiv van La Parra (Martin Cranie, 88’), Kasey Palmer (Jack Payne, 60’), Elias Kachunga; Nahki Wells
Luke Coddington, Philip Billing, Harry Bunn, Jon Gorenc Stanković