Forest’s pre-season preparations came to an end with defeat to Premier League West Brom at the City Ground. James Bolton reports.
In their pre-season friendly against Notts County, Forest got off the ideal start, taking a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes, with one of those coming from the spot. This time, the roles were reversed as West Brom got off to a flier.
The warning signs were there when James Morrison, well known for his long range efforts, fired over from 25 yards.
After some very neat passing, Youssouf Mulumbu found himself in space and let fly from distance. Despite Karl Darlow getting a hand to the ball (he arguably should have saved it), it gave Albion the lead on seven minutes.
Forest were really struggling to get their foot on the ball and two David McGoldrick efforts from outside the box, comfortably saved by Ben Foster, were their only shots in the early stages.
West Brom were then given a chance to double their lead from the penalty spot. Zoltan Gera’s low shot wasn’t dealt with by Darlow and as Shane Long latched onto the rebound, a slightly clumsy tackle from Danny Collins persuaded referee David Coote to point to the spot. Long put away the spot kick, sending Darlow the wrong way.
Forest, unlike Notts County, would not be able to spark a comeback as the Baggies had it all their own way. Their passing was crisp and movement lively, although they weren’t creating the chances that their dominance deserved.
A rare bit of nice play from Forest led to a chance for trialist Franck Moussa who, with half a yard of space on the edge of the box, skewed horribly wide with his left foot. That would bring his unimposing evening to an end, as he was one of six 55-minute substitutions.
Matt Derbyshire, Marcus Tudgay, Adlene Guedioura, Jonathan Greening, Radi Majewski and Bader Al-Mutawa (who looked lively) replaced McGoldrick, Andy Reid, Lewis McGugan, Guy Moussi, Dexter Blackstock and Moussa.
The substitutions did bring Forest back into the game a bit more. Guedioura was typically energetic and Greening was an impressive, calm head in the middle of the park against his former side.
Efforts on goal were still a rarity. Jerome Thomas fired a left foot shot over the bar and Albion had a goal ruled out for offside as Marc-Antoine Fortune failed to time his run before drilling across the box for Team GB Olympian Craig Dawson to tap in.
The entire Forest back four was replaced with notable subs including Matt Regan, a young defender recently signed from Liverpool and Andy Taylor, a trialist recently released by Sheffield United, who put in a decent cameo.
Unfortunately, this game was lacking in goal scoring opportunities and was probably our worst display of pre-season. However, we need to remember that West Brom finished in the top half of the Premier League last season and, like most teams, will have had a much smoother pre-season than we have.
To put that into some context, eight of the players who started for West Brom tonight also started against Chelsea at The Hawthorns back in March, a game they won 1-0. Seven of them started against Liverpool at Anfield in April, which they also won 1-0.
This West Brom team have been playing, and playing well, together for at least a season now. Our new-look team have played just a handful of pre-season matches and are still gelling and learning under the new manager.
It has been little over a month since the Al-Hasawi family completed the takeover. I think we’ve done a great job in such a short space of time. We’ve let one manager go and appointed a new one, begun rebuilding our squad with solid acquisitions and made the most of a disrupted pre-season. This is just the start of a long process, which continues away at Fleetwood on Monday night.