Nottingham Forest came from behind to deservedly draw 1-1 with promotion chasing Brentford as they continue to combat relegation danger.

Ivan Toney opened the scoring for Brentford when Gaetan Bong inexplicably hauled him down from a corner, allowing the striker to score his 28th league goal of the season.

However, the Reds bit back when Bong’s cross wasn’t cleared properly and Filip Krovinovic pounced to score his first goal in Forest colours.

In what was a valuable point for Chris Hughton’s side, here are three things we learnt from the match…

Forest
BRENTFORD, ENGLAND – MARCH 20: Brice Samba of Nottingham Forest claims the ball from Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Nottingham Forest at Brentford Community Stadium on March 20, 2021 in Brentford, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

The Gaetan Bong experiment is done

The reaction of Forest fans when they saw Bong’s name on the team sheet was one of horror and it didn’t take long for them to be proved right.

Having been inept at his defensive duties from the jump, Bong then needlessly hauled Ivan Toney down with a corner barely in the air, right in the view of the referee.

At that point, Forest had largely been on top and were openly trying to probe, but that mistake took all the momentum away from them and left them with an uphill battle.

Bong did try and make amends when he blocked what seemed an almost certain goal from Bryan Mbeumo, which did prove vital.

And prior to his injury in the second half, his cross led to Filip Krovinovic’s goal – but on balance, the cons do outweigh the pros when it comes to his defensive game.

Bong may have been one of Chris Hughton’s trusted stalwarts at Brighton & Hove Albion, but he’s been questionable at best for weeks and has probably had his day. Forest need to move on.

Forest
BRENTFORD, ENGLAND MARCH 20: Ivan Toney of Brentford celebrates after scoring their team’s first goal from the penalty spot during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Nottingham Forest at Brentford Community Stadium on March 20, 2021 in Brentford, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Lack of penetration an issue, but hard work gets rewarded

Despite Brentford’s preference to control possession, Forest used the ball very well and had quite a lot of it.

The issue was, while their build up play was smart, their final ball so frequently let them down and they just seemed very blunt moving forwards.

 

Apart from one Bong cross that found Lewis Grabban – who inexplicably headed over – Forest just couldn’t get anything in behind Brentford’s very organised back line.

However, eventually Forest did get their reward when another Bong cross was nodded down to Krovinovic, who slotted past David Raya with ease.

That said though, if Forest can just be a bit sharper in the final third and show some more conviction, surely it’s only a matter of time until they start scoring more goals.

Forest
BRENTFORD, ENGLAND – MARCH 20: Saman Ghoddos of Brentford is put under pressure by Tobias Figueiredo of Nottingham Forest during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Nottingham Forest at Brentford Community Stadium on March 20, 2021 in Brentford, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

James Garner is a level above

Whether it’s his raking diagonal passes or his timing of the tackle, James Garner is comfortably the best midfielder Forest have at present.

Garner ran the show in the middle and while Forest’s final third penetration was a concern, the build up to it was often very good and that was down to Garner’s performance.

It’s testament to his character that when Grabban was substituted off, the captain’s armband went to Garner.

What will be imperative for Forest is whether they can secure his services on loan again next season, although that may prove tricky depending on how parent club Manchester United feel about his progress.

Garner is genuinely playing at a level where it wouldn’t be a surprise if United fancied giving him some minutes in cup games and maybe even off the bench in the league.

It’ll certainly be a conversation for the summer, but for now, it’s only a good thing from a Forest perspective that a young midfielder is performing so well.

How valuable a point will that be for Nottingham Forest?

Have something to tell us about this article?