THE CITY GROUND NOTTINGHAM -The city ground was left empty for 23 years. Premier League football in this area of the East Midlands, Nottingham Forest celebrated their return to the city by securing a 1-0 win over West Ham United.
Nottingham Forest vs. West Ham result, highlights, manager reaction from dream Premier League homecoming
A group of summer signings was the Forest stars on a scorching evening: Dean Henderson with a penalty save, Jesse Lingard and Neco Williams who put in a great performance and Taiwo Awoniyi scored the winner’s goal.
“Catching 23 years in just six weeks” was the tagline that came from the team this week and it could be seen in the initial lineup, which included eight new players. Minor changes to the stadium that is 124 years old were also apparent, as was the facility being refreshed in order to get it up to top-of-the-line after a time within the English Football League.
The changes, thankfully, did not affect the structure of the stadium, and the sound echoed from the steel surrounding this stadium that was once a classic. Forest fans were able to enjoy their day even at temperatures of 32C/90F because they created a buzz in the city before the match and created an eerie atmosphere during the 90-minute game. This year’s Premier League is certainly a more enjoyable place to play in.
In spite of the scorching heat, the initial half was a good pace to it, and Forest compensated for their lack of a final product by exerting plenty of effort. They were the more positive of the two sides with former Liverpool player Williams creating a couple of half-chances for Awoniyi. No.9 failed to make contact.
Williams was an absolute threat on the right side in Steve Cooper’s 3-5-2 formation, offering the same level of quality over the players in front of him, but not that was matched by Lingard. Lingard was a class act. England international was superb throughout the opening half and was central to Forest’s attack.
Lingard was always at the edge of space and played some dangerous through-balls, sparked counter-attacks, and regrouped to assist defensively, especially on the left side. Lingard also triggered some early yellow cards for his previous Irons teammate, Declan Rice, but the captain of the visitors did not let it interfere with his game.
At around 20 minutes, Rice and Pablo Fornals particularly began to take to the ball and control the midfield battle more. Forest’s central players started to slack off in the middle, which allowed West Ham to start carving out half-chances of their own.
Michail Antonio was a player struggling to enter the game in any way and was often visibly upset when the ball came only 10 yards away from Antonio and his very few moves failed to make it through. In the break for drinks halfway through the second half, David Moyes was deep in talks with him trying to revive his performance.
The plan didn’t go as planned and the former Forest center-forward made a particularly costly contribution. West Ham had an opener for Said Benrahma — who was the one who started the move by running solo through the entire field which threw out two players who were chasing Forest players. The players were then who was disqualified due to an incident with Antonio during the final stages of the game.
Forest was able to get away by scoring one goal, Lewis O’Brien having lost Benrahma quite slack. In the opposite direction the other side, a player who was far from lazy was Awoniyi who displayed plenty of hustle and executed the runs but with a lack of quality. He also pushed himself to Kurt Zouma throughout in a fight that was a real physical one, but it was better of taking the easy way by placing himself on the less solid Ben Johnson instead.
But the PS18m striker’s efforts were rewarded by an assist that was not something he knew a great amount about. It’s not that it’s going to bother Forest: he scored the goal for Forest’s very first Premier League goal in over two decades.
Harry Toffolo made his way to this box coming from the left which is where Forest had been spotted a couple of times, before finding Lingard at the midfield. His ball bounced from Ben Johnson into the run of Awoniyi. His stride is strong enough to redirect the ball over Lukasz Fabianski at the start of stoppage time.
Then, just after breaking point, Fornals struck the bar with a spectacular long-range shot that bounced off the line, but Henderson stopped the rebound. The goal was then shortly followed by Forest believing they had scored a 2-0 advantage, however, an additional goal in the match to be restored through VAR. Brennan Johnson — who’d struggled to get his feet under him in the first half and was unable to find a finishing touch — smashed his ball past Fabianski perfectly after being set in from Orel Mangala, who it was slightly out of play.
West Ham then hit the woodwork again, this time with Benrahma’s free-kick. Then the winger’s skillful wit and his vigor is the perfect counterpoint to the Irons attitude and patience in the midst of The City Ground — broke through with a spectacular counter a few minutes later, and playing Tomas Soucek. The Czech’s attempt was handled in the hands of Scott McKenna — needlessly and rashly, since Henderson could have saved it in any case -but an award of a penalty was made following a VAR review.
Henderson who has an enormous point to prove following his comments about the unfair way he felt that he was treated by Manchester United last term -was on hand to protect McKenna’s blushes by making sure the spot-kick was saved from Rice. The division’s top midfielders, now shouldering the blame following the retirement of Mark Noble, telegraphed his shot to the goalkeeper’s right. Alongside Lingard, The ex-Red Devils were the mainstays for Forest.
Williams offered a few more moments of brilliance in the second period — firstly, he created an excellent chance for Moussa Niakhate near his back post, and later blocked Zouma in the opposing by a goal-line clearance.
West Ham had the lion’s portion of the attacking third but could not really be seen as making a difference in the end as the sleeping giants from in the East Midlands held on, even with the agonizing seven minutes of extra time. New signings Gianluca Sccamacca along with Maxwell Cornet came off the bench for the visitors, but to no avail and Moyes’s men are in a stalemate with no points in their opening two matches.
For Forest It’s the perfect home for them to begin their return to life in the big time. Alongside the gradual settling-in of the new transfers that are coming in and more will be arriving with their final form in the boiling point will be vital to any survival attempt.
“First half was a lot better than the second half. We were superior, we played in the direction of West Ham. It was the occasion and football. The atmosphere was incredible, but this made it stand out more.
“We ought to have made more. We were definitely the best team. They did have a few breakaways. It would have been better to be more street-smart.
“Second period, the idea was not so much to just rest and enjoy games, however, I can see why we had to play with more cautiousness. We had to show our heart and soul, and play excellent tactical and technical defending. We could have scored on sets-pieces during the second half.
“We knew that the overhaul of the squad was coming. We were prepared. We’ve got a method of working.
“We were not very good against Newcastle United and lost however we did play well today and took the win. Training this week was amazing. I loved the structure of the way we worked this week. We will return to work on Monday and will be getting ready for our next game.
“[Hendersonwas] fantastic. He appeared to be a very good goalkeeper. His distribution was great and his decision-making was excellent. He was tactically adept with his position.
“He was a good player last week. He did very well this week. Goalkeepers are required to have huge moments. There were some moments for him today. It’s his job to make sure that He did it right. What he’ll do is analyze the game thoroughly and continue to work harder this week to continue improving. This is how we do it.
“We were aware of how important today. I informed the players that there are three generations of fans present today. I’d like to dedicate this win to all supporters who were unable to attend today. The attendance could have been quadrupled for the game].
“That photo of the Brian Clough stand, the two levels, is an image that people of the past will recognize. This is a place that will help you win games. We’re determined to beat every game, but especially here.
“[Lingardwas really good in his moments today, his movement as well as his tactical approach. He was able to balance his game keeping midfielders in the team and also two strikers. There are a lot of players who aren’t 100% fit. Mangala was the first player to make his debut on Saturday and has only been training for a couple of weeks. This is another step towards becoming a full-time team.
“I’d like to make another signing”, yeah. I’m sure everybody is considering the reason we need to make these signings. It’s a necessity. We were forced to do it. There will definitely be some ways to get out and ins.
“[Awoniyi was] good. He was a real pawn due to his determination, and his general movements. He made a huge influence on the way we played on the field as we played. He’s settled nicely off the pitch too. It felt like home straight away.”
David Moyes’s post-match reaction
“Very frustrating. The first twenty minutes, of the day were extremely frustrating to me. We did a poor job. We became more involved in the sport.
“We weren’t worthy of the outcome we certainly didn’t deserve it, that’s the fact. Forest was strong, powerful, and determined to take both the ball first and the second under pressure.
“The ball shouldn’t have been in the air. We had plenty of chances to score but failed to miss the opportunity. We were a little slow in the preseason, we’re behind.
“[Cornet as well as Scamacca] may have begun today. They’re becoming closer. Both teams are experiencing an absence of time in the preseason. We’re not too concerned. Perhaps they’re not prepared to play for 90 minutes.
“Manuel Lanzini was the one who took penalty shots and scored these in the last game of the season. We were thinking of Declan in mind for today.
“No this does not mean he’ll be in them throughout the season. Declan was penalized today.”