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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: NOTTINGHAM FOREST

21 October 2017

Second half goals from Barrie McKay and Eric Lichaj condemned Albion to their first defeat on the road since the start of September. McKay fired into the top corner after Stephen Bywater could only punch clear under pressure and Lichaj ran through to seal victory 12 minutes from time.

Forest clearly responded to a half time roasting as they came out in the second half and produced a much improved display after Albion had arguably had the better of the first 45 minutes without, once again, being able to capitalise on their best moments when they came along. Most notably Lloyd Dyer was denied by a goalline clearance when it looked like he must score.

It was an Albion side showing three changes from the line-up that ground out another clean sheet on the road at Ashton Gate last time out. There was also a tweak in shape as Lloyd Dyer, Sean Scannell and John Brayford all returned to the side at the City Ground. Strikers Joe Mason and Luke Varney both dropped out of the starting eleven, Mason with a back injury and Varney dropping to the bench. Lucas Akins moved back in attack with both Dyer and Scannell pushing on from wide areas to support. The other change saw Hope Akpan drop to the bench to accommodate the return of Brayford after a hamstring injury. The popular defender was deployed as a wingback with the back three unchanged.

Forest had all of the early possession and almost broke down the Burton defence inside the first two minutes. Patient build up on the right allowed Ben Osborn to get deep into the Burton box before drilling a low cross through the six yard box that deflected away from the advancing Forest strikers and allowed Brayford to clear.

Albion gradually grew into the game and when Scannell was played in on the right his low cross was just a touch too pacy for Jamie Allen charging in at the back post. However the defensive plans were thrown somewhat within a quarter of an hour as Brayford cut a sorry figure limping off and being replaced by Tom Flanagan.

Forest were always looking to play out from the back and it almost cost them dear as a high press from Albion saw Dyer nick possession in an advanced area, the winger crossing low into the middle where Akins was only denied a clear shot on goal by a last ditch tackle at the near post.

The home side were also forced into an early defensive change, left back Armand Traore finally succumbing to a troublesome hamstring and making way for Joe Worrall who slotted in at centre back pushing Danny Fox out to the full back role.

Albion missed a glorious chance to take the lead on 28 minutes with full back Eric Lichaj clearing off the line to keep his side level. Akins easily got the better of Fox out on the right and when his deep cross was fed back into the middle by Warnock, Dyer looked to have the goal at his mercy only for the Forest defender to be in the right place to prevent the ball crossing the line.

The better chances continued to come the way of Albion and a low free kick on 39 minutes from Allen was stabbed towards the near post by Jake Buxton only for it to slip just the wrong side of the upright with keeper Jordan Smith completely wrong footed.

There were ironic cheers around the City Ground in the 44th minute as Forest mustered their first attempt on target. A free kick 25 yards out was initially dealt with but when it came out to midfielder David Vaughan he let fly from distance with a shot that Bywater comfortably caught in the centre of his goal.

It was the last action of what, in truth, was a rather mundane half of football. However the important stat was that Albion were still level.

Half time: Nottingham Forest 0-0 Burton Albion

Albion took to the field for the second half making their second substitution. There was no sign of Lucas Akins as the teams reappeared and in his place was Marvin Sordell. After a bright start from the men in yellow it was Forest who tried to impose themselves on the game again with midfielder Liam Bridcutt sending in a dipping effort that Bywater did well to stretch and tip over his crossbar. The home side had their tails up now and with the vociferous City Ground crowd behind them tried to find a breakthrough. Substitute Worrall sent over a cross that proved too high for striker Daryl Murphy and in the end it was down to Flanagan to tidy up and push the Brewers up field away from their own penalty area.

Luke Murphy was the first man to see yellow from referee Keith Stroud for a stretching challenge on the half way line. The on loan Leeds man had perhaps been fortunate to not go in the book in the first half for a pretty robust tackle in a similar area and there was a sense that Mr Stroud had applied the 'totting up' principle when showing the card.

Within a minute Forest had the lead through McKay. A teasing ball into the middle enticed Bywater to come out and punch the ball clear off the head of Cummings and when the ball fell to the feet of the Scot he sent it back towards the top corner with interest to break Albion's resistance.

Osborn almost doubled Forest's lead shortly afterwards but his rising drive was superbly tipped over by Bywater again.

There were more injury worries for Albion just after the hour mark as Turner required prolonged attention before finally getting to his feet and gingerly trying to run off the problem.

Forest were certainly more likely to add to their lead and a smart run across the near post by Murphy saw him connect with an Osborn corner but Bywater was well positioned at his near post to snuff out the threat.

Forest made a double change brinking on Andreas Bouchalakis and Everton loanee Kieran Dowell for Cummings and Vaughan as they went in search of the second goal to kill off the game.

Albion had strong shouts for a penalty on 75 minutes when Dyer got his head to the ball first in a chase into the box. Keeper Jordan Smith came hareing out of his goal and flattened the Burton man but referee Stroud was not interested in Albion penalty appeals.

As so often happens play quickly switched to the other end and Forest fgot the secodn goal they had been craving. Neat passing in midfield opened up a chance for LICHAJ to run unchecked into the Burton box and calmly finish low into the corner from close range.

Luke Varney was sent on to replace Turner, still affected by his injury from earlier with time running down and with Forest looking to put some gloss on the final scoreline.

It was becoming one of those afternoons for Dyer and he missed a great chance to half Albion's deficit on 84 minutes side footing wide after being set up by Scannell after a jinking run across the edge of the penalty area.

Neither side seriously threatened in what remained of a rather unforgettable encounter but it was Forest who, more importantly bagged the points as Albion's winless run continued.


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