Score goals and keep clean sheets, the basics of football are simple but Nottingham Forest have struggled with them during recent visits to Derby.

That needs to change on Monday.

A disappointing defeat to Preston aside, the Reds will make the short trip down Brian Clough Way in decent form.

They will also make the journey having markedly improved their record on the road this term, with just one setback suffered so far.

Derby day is, however, an occasion in which form and logic often goes out of the window.

Unfortunate habits

Forest will be hoping that proves to be case this term as they have picked up some rather unfortunate habits of late.

We can all conjure up fond memories of Ben Osborn slamming home the most dramatic of winners back in January 2015, but what has there been to show for visits to Derby since then?

Nothing, quite literally, is the rather painful answer to that question.

Since Osborn sent Stuart Pearce and the travelling Forest faithful wild almost four years ago, the Reds have drawn three blanks on the goal and points front.

That means it is now 270 minutes and counting without something to cheer behind enemy lines.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Spreading the net a little wider, the Reds have failed to trouble the scorers in four of their last five derby dates – with a 2-2 draw at the City Ground in March 2017 the odd game out in that sequence.

It is not just issues in the final third which have been a problem though.

Keeping the back door bolted has proved to be as problematic as unlocking the one up front.

Focusing again purely on trips to Derby, and a run without a clean sheet stretches back almost eight years to January 2011 – with only one secured in the last 13 trips across all competitions.

Bucking that trend will guarantee Forest at least a point on Monday, and that is the minimum requirement.

Shake shackles

Aitor Karanka did oversee a goalless draw in his first derby last season and would probably settle for a repeat of that outcome in his second.

Forest do, however, boast the firepower to shake their shackles and rip up the form book.

Lewis Grabban, Joao Carvalho and Joe Lolley will be relishing the opportunity to sink their teeth into the Rams, with match-winning ability possessed by all.

The Reds have also displayed commendable defensive strength this season, even if current injury and suspension concerns are doing the cause few favours.

Forest have shown that they are more than capable of getting the basics right, they just need to start doing that with greater frequency when the stakes are at their highest.

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