Mark Warburton’s Nottingham Forest side went from the sublime to the ridiculous within 72 hours, after an embarrassing Boxing Day defeat to hapless Sheffield Wednesday.
The Reds impressively secured their first league draw at the 30th time of asking, following a 1-1 stalemate against Preston North End at Deepdale.
Many will attribute the travelling point to the performance of David Vaughan who returned to the side after two games away, which is highly plausible.
The Forest manager stuck by his decision to continue using the versatile Ben Osborn ahead of Armand Traore at left back, and few would argue with that after such a universally accepted point on the road.
Interestingly, Ben Brereton was deployed out wide on the right against Preston but still managed to cap off a lovely team move to put the away side ahead.
So, fast forward three days and things appear definitively off axis, or as some would hasten to imply, venturing up a certain creek without a paddle.
How can a side go from obtaining a credible point against higher placed opposition, to imploding in front of the biggest crowd of the season?
My personal take on things is as follows, Brereton cannot play on the wing, but Tyler Walker can; so why reverse the two of them when they are finally permitted to start a game together?
Walker has never been my favourite of the academy graduates but has impressed me out on the right flank of late. Brereton on the other hand, is one of those rare commodities that we call a natural born striker!
As far as Osborn being deployed at left back is concerned, I’d be incredibly fickle to berate his selection against The Owls having performed so competently against Preston. And though I don’t condone the manner in which Traore has been omitted from first team duties, the most successful managers are usually vindicated by sticking with the men in form.
Remember when Brian Clough’s “No.9” was kept out of the side by a certain Tommy Gaynor? Food for thought!
Forest started brightly against Sheffield Wednesday and should have been two goals to the good before the break. Both Brereton and Barrie McKay spurned gilt edged chances before Adam Reach blasted home an absolute rocket from 25 yards out.
In fairness to the home side, they continued to probe the Wednesday defence through the industry of Kieran Dowell but failed to unlock a defence that have conceded eight in their last five outings.
Predictably, the Owls grabbed a second just before half time from the penalty spot.
The timing of that second goal, in conjunction with the catalogue of missed opportunities and mismatched positional deployment, ended the Boxing Day encounter before a second half ball was kicked.
For his part, Owls interim boss Lee Bullen played a trump card in the form of Lucas Joao. The Portuguese national gave Osborn a torrid time and used his height and Braun to rattle the youngster at every opportunity. However, as I stated earlier in this piece, I will not aim insults at Osborn or his manager but I do feel that the 23-year-old should have been replaced by Traore as the situation became somewhat critical.
One could argue that it was a case of taking chances, especially after the irrepressible Joao scored a brilliant third for Wednesday.
But the brutal fact of the matter was that Forest once again placed square pegs in round holes, and paid the price for doing so!