Nottingham Forest manager Chris Hughton delighted with his side’s resilience in 1-1 draw at Brentford
Nottingham Forest manager Chris Hughton praised his side’s response as Filip Krovinovic’s second-half goal earned the Reds a deserved share of the points in their first visit to high-flying Brentford’s new Community Stadium.
Croatian Krovinovic, on loan from Benfica, struck just after the hour mark to equalise after Championship top scorer Ivan Toney had put the hosts ahead from the penalty spot inside the first quarter of an hour – a decision which disappointed the Reds boss.
He told Sky Sports: “It thought it was a competitive game, we had really good possession, particularly for a team coming here.
“I’m a bit aggrieved by the goal we conceded – there are numerous occasions when they are not given – and there were some decisions that should have gone in our favour, but didn’t, but we got a really good reaction.
"Brentford are a very good side and were always going to test us and having gone one down, in the way we did, the response was excellent.
“There are two aspects of the game – don’t allow them to get into a rhythm, which is do with work off the ball, and the quality we can show on the ball. It felt as if we had as much possession as they did and that was key. We were able to keep the ball and not allow them rhythm.
Praise for on-loan midfielder
And on-loan midfielder James Garner, who turned 20 just seven days ago, was also singled out for praise, having been named Sky Sports’ player of the match.
Hughton said: “James has been good for us. He had a really good first half of the season, so we took him with that little bit of experience of the Championship and he’s settled in really well.”
The match came nine years to the day since Forest enjoyed one of their best away days in recent memory – a 7-3 victory over Leeds United at Elland Road. However, there were long odds of a repeat scoreline as the Reds faced another difficult away trip, to promotion-chasing Brentford, especially with the Reds on a run of five games without a win.
Hughton made four changes to the team which limply surrendered to league leaders Norwich in midweek. goalkeeper Brice Samba, back from injury, Gaetan Bong, Krovinovic and Alex Mighten all returned to the starting line-up, in place of Jordan Smith, Tyler Blackett, Ryan Yates and Luke Freeman respectively, who all dropped to the bench, except Blackett, who travelled with the squad, but did not make the matchday 18.
It was an open start, Manchester United loanee Garner firing over and Bong’s cross deflecting into the grateful arms of home keeper David Raya, while Bees right winger Bryan Mbeumo looked dangerous every time he had the ball.
Brentford awarded first-half penalty
However, it was the hosts who took the lead when Bong was adjudged to have pulled Toney to the ground, defending Mbeumo’s right-wing corner, and referee Graham Scott had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Toney stepped up and calmly rolled the ball into Samba’s left-hand corner, sending the Forest goalkeeper the wrong way for his 28th goal of the season.
Mbuemo then fired across goal as he went one-on-one with Scott McKenna as Brentford broke quickly in search of a second.
Forest thought they had a penalty of their own after 24 minutes, when Scott blew his whistle after Mighten had jinked his way past Henrik Dalsgaard and Mathais Jensen in the area before hitting the ground, but instead the referee awarded the hosts a free-kick and booked the Forest winger for diving.
The woodwork denied Brentford a second goal after 33 minutes. Mbeumo’s right-wing corner was met by the unmarked Vitaly Janelt, whose volley bounced up against the bar, before dropping to Dalsgaard a yard out, but he could not react and the ball bounced off him and inches wide.
Reds striker Lewis Grabban then missed a glorious chance with the last touch of the first-half, heading over Bong’s left-wing cross after good work by Krovinovic and MIghten.
Brentford had the first clear chance of the second half when Toney was played in after 55 minutes and unselfishly squared to Mbuemo, but Bong got back just in time to throw his body in the way of the goalbound shot and deflect it away.
Croatian star scores deserved equaliser
Forest were level after 63 minutes. Cafu robbed Jensen and drove forward as Brentford appealed for a foul, Bong’s cross was flicked on by Lewis Grabban and WInston Reid could only half clear, straight to the waiting Krovinovic who calmly passed the ball into Raya’s bottom right-hand corner for his first goal in Forest colours.
Smart defending from Cyrus Christie then kept the score level as he got back to block substitute Saman Ghoddos’s shot as he raced onto Toney’s clever dummy.
Forest were then screaming for a free-kick as Raya gathered a long ball forward on the edge of his penalty area, with everyone connected with the visitors believing he had handled outside the box, but referee Scott was unmoved.
Christie then saw his powerful volley deflected just past the post by the onrushing Jensen as the Reds pushed for a winner.
Brentford were also looking for the win though and the impressive Christie had to be alert at the other end to block another Brentford attempt, this time from substitute Tariqe Fosu, while, from the long throw, substitute Marcus Forss could only head wide.
Toney then had Samba scrambling across goal as he outmuscled McKenna to seize upon a long ball and saw his shot from distance deflect just wide, off Tobias Figuereido, but Brentford could not breach Forest’s rearguard again as the game finished 1-1.
Forest: Samba; Christie, Bong (Ribeiro, 65), Figuereido, McKenna; Cafu, Garner; Ameobi, Krovinovic, Mighten; Grabban (Murray, 81). Subs not used: Smith, Mbe Soh, Colback, Yates, Freeman, Knockaert, Taylor.