Admirable Nelson lifts Forest
DOUGIE FREEDMAN says his side needed to take a more direct approach after defeat at Brentford and his changes worked wonders as Forest saw off Reading.
Freedman’s decision to pair Nelson Oliveira and Chris O’Grady in attack was vindicated in emphatic fashion, with the on-loan duo combining to score three goals in a stellar display which relieved some of the pressure on the Forest boss.
“The two forwards’ combination play was fantastic, and justified their selection,” Freedman said.
“I felt, we had to sacrifice our passing game at times, and going a little bit longer helped us.”
Reading had briefly lead courtesy of an opportunistic 14th-minute strike from Matej Vydra, the tenth goal the Royals have scored this season inside the opening quarter of an hour.
But their fast start counted for nothing as wide man Ryan Mendes provided the ammunition for O’Grady and Oliveira to put Steve Clarke’s men to the sword. Mendes centred for Brighton loanee O’Grady in the 20th minute, with the striker getting off the mark for his hometown club after Ali Al-Habsi lacked the strength to push his firm strike wide.
Al-Habsi should perhaps have stopped O’Grady’s equaliser, but he was a mere spectator as Forest took the lead on the half-hour. Mendes was the architect again, driving forward doggedly on the counter after a Reading corner and switching a low ball across to Oliveira, who fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 20 yards.
Reading could have levelled in equally spectacular fashion three minutes before the break when Oliver Norwood went for goal with a 30-yard free kick, but Dorus De Vries got across his goal just in time to claw the ball away.
Forest gained some valuable breathing space three minutes after the restart, when O’Grady crossed from the left for Oliveira to volley home from close-range.
Freedman’s side were reduced to ten men five minutes after the hour, when Jack Hobbs was dismissed for a second bookable offence, but their two-goal margin remained.
“It’s a very satisfying result,” Freedman reflected.
“I’m ever so pleased for the players, because it’s been difficult for them of late.The performances have been there, but we’ve not quite been getting the results we deserve, and I think we definitely deserved it.
“In the last 15 minutes we showed resilience, and I’m very happy to say that was probably the best piece of defending since I’ve been here.”
Reading boss Clarke was disappointed to see his side squander their early lead, but stressed the need for perspective as Reading look to push for a Championship play-off spot.
“The biggest disappointment after a cagey opening was that we got our noses in front, then conceded too quickly, which gave Forest a boost and a bit of life,” Clarke admitted.
“It was quite an open game, but they capitalised more on their chances than we did.
“You always have to keep a sense of perspective in the chase for a play-off position. It’s a long season.
“We had a good chat in the dressing room after the game. Nothing dramatic, no tantrums, just a good, honest chat among ourselves, and we’ll look to build from this.”
AT THE DOUBLE: Nelson Oliveira scores the first of his two goals to make it 2-1 to Forest