Nottingham Forest vs Barnsley – Saturday 20 April – kick off 15:00
Ahead of the Reds' visit to Nottingham Forest tomorrow, Tom Bestwick previews the action at the City Ground
Form over last five league fixtures – D, D, D, L, L
Tell me more...
At one time, Forest were the most feared team in the land. With the late Brian Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor at the helm this was to be the catalyst that turned the Reds not only into the kings of England, but also European conquerors.
So how has life after Brian been? Well it has never been the same. Fast forward to the 2004/05 season and the two-time European Champions were relegated to League One – never before has a club who have reigned in Europe slipped through the trap door and into the third tier of their respective domestic league.
It took three years for club to climb back into the second tier, a 3-2 win over Yeovil Town on the final day of the 2007/08 season was enough for them to secure the second, and final, automatic promotion spot, and after a first season of struggle, Forest have their eyes firmly on reaching the big time once more.
This is where Billy Davies comes in. The former manager of their bitter rivals Derby County has a formula for success in the Championship having taken Derby back to the Premier league in his first season in charge, guiding Preston North End to the top six on a number of occasions as well as taking Forest to the play-offs twice in his first stint in charge. Third time lucky perhaps?
The summer takeover by the Kuwait Al-Hasawi family brought with it a wealth talent added to the Forest ranks as well as going through two managers before going full circle to reappoint Davies. They say you should never go back in football, but the clubs up turn in results leaves them with a fighting chance of taking the club back to the top flight since 1999.
Forest have clean bill of health going into this game, though changes could be made to the side that lost to Middlesbrough on Tuesday night. Majewski started on the bench and called be recalled to the starting line-up and Davies could opt to add more firepower up front with Marcus Tudgay and Dexter Blackstock are looking for a recall in place of either Billy Sharp or Simon Cox.
Their season so far...
With three games still remaining of the Championship season, Forest are still well placed to get back into the top six, but after five games without a win, time is running out before they take on East Midlands rivals Leicester City, what could be a crucial last match of the season. Before Davies made his return to the City Ground, the Reds had floated around in mid-table, sacked two managers, invested heavily in the squad and were getting no where. Despite Sean O’Driscoll taking Forest to within two places of the play-offs, he was shown the door and replaced with Alex McLeish, who also had a short stint in the hot seat, before being replaced by Davies. The 48-year-old immediately improved the fortunes of Forest and they embarked on a six game winning run that gives the club another chance of making the top six after their relegation scrap last term.
Who is their star man?
Irishman Andy Reid is enjoying his second stint back at the City Ground after he moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2005 for £8 million in a deal that also Michael Dawson move to White Hart Lane. The 30-year-old former Republic of Ireland international midfielder has made 42 appearances this season for the club and also has the most assists within the side - 11. He can be deployed either on the wing or through the middle and is often described as a set-piece specialist.
Billy Davies marked his return to the City Ground with a 1-1 draw with Bolton Wanderers, but only three days later recorded his first win in emphatic style. Struggling Huddersfield Town visited the City Ground, and even took an early lead through James Vaughan, but the Reds went on to hand out a 6-1 thrashing to Mark Robins’ side. Radoslaw Majewski helped himself to a first half hat-trick, whilst Elliot Ward, Henri Lansbury and Darius Henderson also netted goals to restart another charge towards the play-off places.
Forest have lost on several occasions this season by a three-goal margin, but Millwall managed to hit the East Midlands side for four at the start of November. Liam Trotter had given the Lions the lead after only three minutes, but Billy Sharp levelled the scores midway through the first half. Kenny Jackett, who was celebrating five years in charge of Millwall, wrapped the game up in the second half with goals coming from Darius Henderson, who is now a Forest player, Chris Wood and Andy Keogh.
Blast from the past...
The last time Barnsley beat Forest on their own patch was back in the 2005/06 season - the season that saw Barnsley promoted to the Championship via the lottery of the play-offs. Two first-half goals from Marc Richards was enough to settle the game, and the Tykes completed the double over Forest as well as firmly cementing their place amongst the top six in League One.