A 1-0 defeat to Championship newcomers Rotherham United saw Nottingham Forest put a number of players through their paces in a pre-season friendly. Justin Heaton offers a fan’s eye view from the New York Stadium…

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It’s difficult to know where to start with this one. As a spectacle it was pretty much a non-event, especially from a Forest perspective who didn’t threaten the home goal for the first 80 minutes, and showed little sign of urgency before conceding; something we witnessed on numerous occasions last season.

The Reds started the game with a 4-2-3-1 formation: Darlow; Hunt, Mancienne, Fox, Harding; Halford, Osborn; Mackie, Reid, Paterson; Cox.

Rotherham looked the better team for the majority of the first-half with Revell winning at least 90% of the headers he went for. Virtually every cross Rotherham put over was won by him easily and looked the most likely to break the deadlock.

Forest never looked like scoring and Pearce is the latest manager to try Cox up front on his own and the latest to find out that it more than often results in Forest not scoring.

At half-time Silva, the young trialist from Benfica, came on for Paterson in a straight swap on the left-wing.

Reid was now starting to run the game and his clever jinking in the middle of the park threatened to cut the home defence open a couple of times, and if we had any pace to run onto the through balls, a chance may have come.

Just as Reid was turning the game in Forest’s favour he was withdrawn on 60 minutes along with Halford, Hunt and Mackie, to be replaced by Laing, McLaughlin, Vaughan and Majewski.

Within five minutes Majewski had lost the ball for the second time in the middle of the park and this time Agard went through on goal and beat Darlow to put the hosts ahead.

This sparked Forest into life and Laing, playing right-back, crossed and McLaughlin saw his shot hit the bar. With 10 minutes to go Cox and Osborn were taken off to be replaced by Veldwijk and Walker.

Forest continued to push and Silva was looking to run at the defence and looks to have pace to burn, but is probably a bit too raw to contribute much to the first team at the moment.

With about five minutes to go Harding whipped over a cross and Veldwijk met it perfectly with his head but the ball hit the inside of the post and somehow didn’t go in.

I keep reading suggestions that Forest will play three or five at the back once the season starts but every pre-season game has been a back four, so it’s looking likely that will be the favoured tactic. As for the rest it will probably depend on who’s fit; 4-4-2 had been the favoured line up but tonight it was 4-2-3-1. Personally I don’t like to see one striker on his own but with the right support it could work.

Mancienne and Hunt were steady on their debuts, Laing continues to impress me and Silva was fast and tricky. I hope over the last three friendlies Pearce finds the right formula because we seem a long way off at the moment.

The main positives tonight though were the news that Lansbury is only out for two weeks and Reid looked good.

I think we are still short of a striker and pacy winger to be challenging at the right end of the table.


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