Words by Christian Brown

Nottingham Forest started 2021 with a much needed three points, as the Reds defeated Preston North End 1-0 at Deepdale.

After a Cafu effort on goal was handled in the box by Darnell Fisher, Lewis Grabban stepped up and despite slipping over in his run-up, found the back of the net.

Preston did have their chances, with Tom Barkhuizen and Ben Davies both hitting the bar, while Barkhuizen also forced Brice Samba into an excellent save after directing a powerful header towards goal.

The result means Chris Hughton’s side moved out of the relegation zone and up to 19th, while they are now unbeaten in five games, taking nine points from a possible 15.

Following a gritty and hard fought win, we ran the rule over the Forest team on an individual basis.


Brice Samba – 8

Outstanding performance from the Forest stopper. Three huge saves, one of which came right at the death from a Paul Gallagher free kick, played a big part in the Reds securing the points.

Preston North End v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship
(Photo; Alex Livesey; Getty Images)

Cyrus Christie – 5

Not his finest performance in a Forest shirt, with the full back having a very inconsistent outing. Did overlap well, but his final ball wasn’t the best and was guilty of some glaring errors that were thankfully in non-harmful parts of the pitch.

Tobias Figueiredo – 7

Perhaps lucky to avoid a second yellow, but a commanding display from Figueiredo, who very much bounced back from some very suspect recent performances. Booked.

Joe Worrall – 7

One questionable block that looped up and presented a chance aside, this was another towering showing from the academy graduate, who did his defensive duties to a tee.

Yuri Ribeiro – 5

Found himself in a lot of good attacking positions, but his crossing was routinely woeful. Did defend well when needed, although his headed clearances proved to be very hit and miss.

Samba Sow – 7

As always, dominated the middle and by doing so, provides Forest with an element of steel that makes them so hard to break down. Always shows incredible bravery and a burning desire to win the ball. Booked.

Ryan Yates – 7

His technical ability has been in question for a long, long time, but to say he played well would be an understatement. Looked really good on the ball, which hopefully we start to say more frequently.

Sammy Ameobi – 3

Bang out of form and it showed – again – with yet another abject performance. For someone whose contract is up in the summer, he’s not exactly doing a lot to suggest we keep him on right now.

Cafu – 4

Much like Ribeiro, found himself in a lot of good attacking positions, but just didn’t have a good game. Shirked shots, regularly lost the ball on the turnover and while he won the penalty, it sort of papered over the cracks a bit.

Anthony Knockaert – 6

His final ball was unusually indifferent, but his ability to beat players and drive at teams helped tenfold – especially as Cafu was struggling in the middle. Hopefully not the last time he wears a Forest shirt.

Lewis Grabban – 8

Rightfully criticised for costing his team last game, but responded brilliantly with a captain’s performance. Led by example, as proved by taking the penalty and his reading of the game allowed him to get involved frequently.

Preston North End v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship
(Photo; Alex Livesey/Getty Images)


Joe Lolley (Ameobi, 63) – 6

Immediately added some extra guile in the attack upon his arrival and showed glimpses of the Lolley that we all know can be a matchwinner. Hopefully this cameo sees him back in the starting line-up.

Harry Arter (Cafu, 88) – N/A

Came on at the end to add a bit more defensive steel and experience for running the clock down and bar one sliced clearance that flew backwards, did exactly what Hughton wanted.

Lyle Taylor (Grabban, 90+2) – N/A

Much like Arter, came on at the end to run the clock down. Didn’t really have a chance to show what he can do, but did leather a ball into orbit long after the whistle had gone to get a yellow, though it did eat up some more seconds. Booked.

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