Nottingham Forest’s unbeaten start to the season finally came to an end as they lost 2-1 to Cardiff City. Justin Heaton offers a fan’s eye view from the Cardiff City Stadium…

I think even those fans still wearing rose-tinted glasses would admit that the unbeaten run had gone on for longer than it maybe should have done. The 11 league games that preceded this hadn’t produced one good performance for 90 minutes. Yes we have played well in short bursts, notably for 30 minutes against Reading and the last 20 against Fulham, but for the most part it has looked like a new team and the league position flatters us.

Fingers can be pointed at various reasons for the lack of form: Cohen missing long-term; Lansbury not being the same player as previous seasons; constant injuries to Vaughan and Hobbs; but for me, the main reason is the injury to Reid. The talisman and heartbeat of the team. Last season tailed off when he got injured and we have to make sure this season doesn’t follow the same pattern.

Five draws in the previous six games took us into this game joint top of the league, mostly down to other clubs having a similarly unproductive run. However, top of the league we were and a big scalp for any club.

Forest started brightly with Burke being heavily involved in three moves, two where he couldn’t pick a man out from the byline and a shot cleared off the line. But somehow, within 30 minutes, Forest were two down and seemingly staring a heavy defeat down the barrel.

Things had to change, most notably at the left-back and centre midfield positions. Lichaj and Lansbury can think themselves lucky to be in the team after recent performances and neither lasted past the hour mark, being replaced by Harding and Vaughan.

Forest improved in the second-half with Vaughan doing what Lansbury wasn’t, but without really creating any clear cut chances or testing the Cardiff goalkeeper. Assombalonga did have the ball in the net on 62 minutes but was centimetres offside – had that counted I feel we could have claimed at least a point. We were in the ascendency at the time and a goal then could have changed the game.

With time running out, Assombalonga did score and half the deficit but too little, too late. And to claim a point would have further papered over some very worrying cracks.

What’s happened to Lansbury? Have Assombalonga and Antonio been ‘found out’? Who is the best left-back? Have we got a back up when/if Assombalonga gets injured?

The positives continue to be the emergence of Mancienne as possibly the best defender in the league, we have a striker who has nine league goals already, and we have a manager who cares deeply about the club and we can rely on him to do everything he can to put things right.

I think we need another option up front and another midfielder on loan, and hope and pray that we are still in contention at the top when Andy Reid returns to start to pull the strings again.

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