Words and ratings by Christian Brown
Nottingham Forest dished up a Halloween horror special as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough without ever really threatening their Teeside hosts, in what is new manager Chris Hughton’s first loss in charge.
Marvin Johnson’s 81st minute strike from a George Saville cross condemned Forest to their fifth league defeat of the season after just nine games, which may prompt a change of expectations given it took Forest 21 games to register five losses last season.
It could’ve been much worse for the visitors too, as Boro were guilty of missing some golden chances following some catastrophic passages of play from Forest, though Hughton’s side did also spend large periods of the game defending superbly as a unit.
Concerningly, Forest struggled in front of goal yet again with their best effort coming from Ryan Yates as he nodded wide from an Anthony Knockaert corner, but it took until the 91st minute for Forest to register a shot on target – a tame Cafu attempt that was comfortably held by Boro stopper Marcus Bettinelli.
Following a disappointing outing, we ran the rule over the Forest players’ performances and scored them out of 10.
Brice Samba – 8
It says everything when your goalkeeper is your best player. A few iffy kicks, but saved two one-on-ones and showed quick thinking throughout. Was unlucky to be beaten at his near post for the goal given the close range.
Cyrus Christie – 6
A decent outlet going forwards and made some good tackles, but perhaps could’ve been more alert for their goal, as Johnson ghosted in behind him to score.
Tobias Figueiredo – 7
Started the match somewhat questionably, but massively grew into the game. Seemed to win a lot of his headers and thwarted Britt Assombalonga repeatedly. Booked.
Scott McKenna – 7
Delivered his best performance in a Forest shirt so far. Stood his ground brilliantly to force Hayden Coulson wide when a goal seemed inevitable, while also starting some good moves out from the back.
Gaeten Bong – 7
Much was said about his inclusion, but looked very solid both in defence and attack and even saved a certain goal with one heroic last ditch challenge. Booked.
Jack Colback – 7
The skipper on the day looks very much back up to speed after a year without playing. Broke up play well and did his job effectively.
Ryan Yates – 6
Almost assisted Assombalonga in the first half with a horrific backpass, but was otherwise stable. Didn’t really offer much moving forwards, but he still had Forest’s best chance – flashing a header just wide from a corner.
Anthony Knockaert – 6
Much like against Luton Town, Knockaert couldn’t quite get into a rhythm, despite his best efforts. Delivered some superb deliveries again, but sadly for the Reds, there were no takers.
Luke Freeman – 5
A few neat touches in the first half, but otherwise offered Forest no drive whatsoever from the middle – though the service to him wasn’t the best. Final ball was uncharacteristically poor at times, too.
Sammy Ameobi – 4
Never got going on either flank and it’s fair to say that Boro very much did a job on him. Hooked at half time for the second match running.
Miguel Angel Guerrero – 6
Solid if unspectacular first start from the new signing and worked himself into the ground. Showed very intelligent movement at times and held the ball up well, but like Freeman, starved of service.
Joe Lolley (Ameobi, HT) – 6
Ended up playing more defensively than perhaps planned at half time and as such, couldn’t grab the game by the scruff of the neck as we’ve regularly seen him do.
Cafu (Freeman, 64) – 6
Steady debut from the midfielder and didn’t do a lot wrong, but equally, we haven’t really learnt a lot about him from this showing.
Lyle Taylor (Guerrero, 78) – 6
Much like the man he was replacing, Taylor got next to no service but still put in some serious yards to try and cause an opening.