Following the controversial conclusion to the encounter with Birmingham City last Saturday, Nottingham Forest face Charlton Athletic this weekend. Roman Filipowicz previews Saturday’s meeting at the City Ground

Nottingham Forest’s mini-revival came to a controversial end with their 2-1 defeat at Birmingham City. Not long after it looked like the Reds were going to escape with at least a point, due to Britt Assombalonga’s late equaliser, the assistant referee head steward tea lady fourth official advised that Assombalonga had handled the ball in the Forest penalty area, after the referee and his assistants had missed the offence. The spot-kick was subsequently given and scored and Assombalonga was red-carded and misses the next match. As I’m writing this preview before the 9pm watershed, I have nothing further to say on the matter.

Saturday sees a return to the City Ground for the visit of Charlton Athletic. The Londoners’ start to the season has been very similar to Forest’s; with a long unbeaten run fizzling away into a period of indifferent form. Indeed, the Addicks are currently one place below Forest with the same number of points – which is still only three points off the play-offs and seven off the lead.

Hitherto unheralded striker Igor Vetokele has definitely been Charlton’s star man this season so far. The powerful forward has netted eight league goals already and will need close attention from the Forest defence. Midfielder Jordan Cousins is another who’s been earning positive reviews, and a defence including Tal Ben Haim and Andre Bikey Amougou is definitely experienced – if perhaps not the fastest. This makes it all the more frustrating that Assombalonga will sit the match out due to his suspension.

Still, for the first time in a while this is a Forest squad which does possess pace. Michail Antonio, Chris Burke and Thomas Ince can all zip along at a fair lick, and it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see the loanee from Hull return to the line-up, perhaps to play just off Matt Fryatt. Stuart Pearce may also be tempted into other changes though, as the strong performance against Wolves gave way to a lacklustre showing at St Andrew’s. With (hopefully) no further injuries, and the likes of David Vaughan and Jamie Paterson on the sidelines, the options are definitely there.

This is definitely another match that sits in the category of ‘winnable’ as, to be honest, every match in the Championship does. However, they also all sit in the category of ‘losable;’ such is the nature of the league this season. If the Reds can channel the Birmingham disappointment and use it to drive a strong performance then they can keep hanging onto the coattails of the play-off places. With the busy and often pivotal Christmas period nearly upon us, it’s important we don’t fall too much further off the pace.


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