OPINION: Nottingham Forest win at Coventry shows the many ways to win a football game
There is an inherent danger into reading too much into individual games, especially during a season as compressed as this one.
The constant hamster wheel dictates that barely a week goes by without a midweek game creeping up on you and kicking off at an unreasonably early time.
After a decent unbeaten run, Forest went into the game against Barnsley at the weekend on the back of two painful defeats. Middlesbrough were well worthy of their two-goal win at the City Ground and the less said about the cup game at Swansea City, the better.
In fact, let’s all agree to never speak of this again. Deal? Cool.
Being forced to play football against Barnsley again seemed like a good indicator as to where Forest were as a team.
Perhaps two consecutive defeats was simply a blip and should be disregarded in light of the good run of games prior to this. Barnsley – a mid-table team - themselves arrived struggling for form.
As it was, a lacklustre performance by the Reds meant that the Tykes strolled away from the City Ground feeling that their solitary point wasn’t a fair reflection on what their efforts deserved. As for Forest, the blip in form was starting to look more like a dash than a brief dot.
Being sent to play Coventry four days later resulted in a hard-earned yet very welcome three points, reminding us all that like the alleged multiple methods that exist to remove the skin from a cat, there remain multiple ways to pick up three points.
Despite going a goal down to a well taken strike by Maxime Biamou, Forest stuck at it and with Anthony Kockaert industrious in protecting his full back and new arrivals James Garner and Filip Krovinović looking comfortable on the ball and being able to pick a pass from deep, Chris Hughton’s team posed a threat going forward.
They deservedly hauled themselves level just five minutes after falling behind through Lewis Grabban and proceeded to look lively and energetic: qualities that have been lacking for a few games.
When they nudged their noses ahead thanks to a Michael Rose own goal, there was a sense that things were clicking into place nicely. Yet owing to sustained pressure from the Sky Blues, Forest simply could not find an outlet and a promising and dynamic away performance quickly morphed into a desperate rear-guard action in the hope of holding onto the win. Indeed, Forest’s one shot on target yielded two goals and three points, inflicting Coventry’s first ‘home’ defeat in nine games.
So, three halves of football in which Forest looked sluggish somehow yielded a very respectable four points. Drawing conclusions from football games remains as perilous as it ever did.