Following Saturday’s defeat against Millwall, Nottingham Forest shared the points with the Championship’s form team — and probably should have taken all three. Peter Blackburn offers a fan’s eye view from the City Ground.

Many Forest fans will have left Tuesday evening’s game with disappointment in their hearts. After a bizarre 90 minutes in which Forest turned in a Jekyll and Hyde performance of impressive clarity – supporters could certainly be forgiven for feeling hard done to.

However, the first truly wintery midweek evening match of the season may have ultimately resulted in a disappointing draw, but it was a marker of how far this team has come.

Ignoring the 4-1 defeat to Millwall, this Forest side is starting to come together. Sean O’Driscoll is working towards a long-term strategy of success at Forest, and with a philosophy that promises enjoyment along the way. Forest are a club pulling together and of this the fans should be truly proud.

Facing a second-placed Middlesbrough, the form team in the division, Forest were the better team for the majority of the game. The home side created numerous chances and displayed moments of genuinely penetrative football.

Despite the positives though, this was in part a disjointed performance and in many ways that highlights how far this side has come and how far it could yet go. Forest largely dominated the exchanges between the sides and created the more incisive football, despite an opposition that had won six games on the trot.

In Billy Sharp and Simon Cox, the Reds possess a lively strike force capable of troubling any defence and with Henri Lansbury, Jermaine Jenas and Lewis McGugan to potentially come into the team, this Forest side could begin to look very, very good in the near future.

To not only hold a team of Boro’s pedigree and efficiency, but beat them at their own game and look the better side, Forest displayed a clear plan for future success in this division, whether that is this season or the next. While the positives run through the Forest team, the negatives displayed during the Boro game are relatively obvious too.

Forest still look a shaky side at the back – clearly this is to be expected of a defensive unit that has been regularly changed and is still getting used to each other, but further work is necessary. Another problem is the form of Adlene Guedioura.

A talismanic footballer who played an absolutely key role in Forest retaining Championship status last season, the Algerian looks a different player at the moment. His season has been somewhat stop-start, in much due to his own disciplinary issues, as well as competition for his spot, but he looked a player well out of form on Tuesday night.

In order for Forest’s style to succeed, a creative midfielder of greater intent and form will need to be utilised and Guedioura will have to improve if he is to take that role. Fortunately for the Reds, they have a host of names – and talented ones – ready to fill his boots.

There should be no doubt that this is a club going places and this is a club going places in quite some style. Forest are gelling on the pitch and seem to be excelling off it.

Without doubt, the one overriding thought for me leaving the stands on Tuesday night though was my unwavering faith in the leader – Sean O’Driscoll. Criticisms may be levelled about late substitutions or selection wrangles, but Forest finally have a leader capable of building a culture, shaping a philosophy and bringing a swagger back to this once great club.

Forest fans should be proud. Proud and optimistic.

Follow Peter on Twitter: @petermblackburn

Image courtesy of nuttakit/

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