FOOTBALL RETURNS: Forest travel to Hillsborough seeking revenge


Nottingham Forest make the short trip to face mid-table Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday afternoon, hoping to avenge their embarrassing 4-0 defeat in the sides’ last meeting and cement their play-off place.

Where they stand

When these two teams faced each other at the City Ground just before Christmas, four first half goals for Garry Monk’s men, including a clinical Jordan Rhodes hat-trick of half-chances, left the Reds shell-shocked and humiliated.

It didn’t herald the promotion push Wednesday fans hoped for though; with nine games to go, the Sheffield side have spectacularly crashed out of the play-off picture and are currently 15th.

The Owls won just one of their last eleven (1-3-7) before the season was suspended, including a 5-0 hammering at Brentford in their last outing.

Wednesday’s recent home record has been equally disappointing – they’ve gained just four points at Hillsborough since Christmas (1-1-5).

Fifth place Forest were in poor form too prior to the coronavirus lockdown, winning just one of their last six, but are still five points inside the play-off places.

French manager Sabri Lamouchi has transformed his side into the best counter-attacking team in the Championship.

The visitors have registered just a single victory when they’ve had more than 50% of the ball (1-5-8) in the league this season, compared to a 65% win rate and only one defeat when they’ve had less possession (15-7-1).

This has been a one-sided fixture in the last few years though, with Wednesday winning nine of the sides’ last ten meetings.

Rhodes celebrates a goal during the Owls’ big win in the reverse fixture (credit: Joseph Raynor / Nottingham Post)

Team News

Steven Fletcher, now 33-years-old, is likely to be the hosts main goal threat; he’s netted 13 times in 26 appearances so far this season.

The Scotland international returned to training this week after a minor injury, but fellow forward Josh Windass is a doubt with a ‘niggle’, according to manager Garry Monk.

Mercurial Argentine attacker Fernando Forestieri will probably provide the Owls’ creative spark if selected, whilst the midfield steel could come from Sam Hutchinson, who’s racked up ten yellow cards in 23 games.

Forest should be able to call on their best XI when the season gets underway again, with no suspensions or injuries to add to a number of long-term absentees.

The Reds are likely to line-up 4-1-4-1: Samba; Cash, Figueiredo, Worrall, Ribeiro; Watson; Lolley, Sow, Silva, Ameobi; Grabban.

Brice Samba has been the Championship’s goalkeeper of the season so far and the bedrock of his side’s success, whilst poacher Lewis Grabban is the league’s third top scorer with 17 goals.


Owls boss Garry Monk has admitted his side need a big improvement on their performances prior to the coronavirus lockdown.

He said: “No one likes letting fans down and we have done that. We want to make sure these nine games represent what we were doing before that [bad run]; we can do it and we have nine games to prove it.

“No one intends not to perform to their level. We have to do better and I’ve sensed a determination for that. The proof will be in the games.

The Wednesday manager believes his side are as ready for the return to action as possible.

He added: “Football is back, this is the real thing; we are prepared as well as we can be and are looking forward to Saturday.

“We’ve had two practise matches at Hillsborough to get used to playing in an empty stadium.

“We are trying to prepare as best we can; they [the players]dealt with it well – they were two good games. We’re looking forward to getting out there.”

Sabri Lamouchi (credit: Getty)

Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi was philosophical about the circumstances and glad to be back.

He said: ““It is different to before but we need to restart not only for the football, but for the people, for the clubs and for the fans.

“It is a very strange time. Nobody three or four months ago could imagine this could happen.

“Unfortunately, it did and we have to take the right decisions, adapt and find the right solution and the right way to work.

“We have a good squad; they are very professional and they work very hard. Nobody came back overweight or with any problems.”

The Reds’ manager doesn’t expect his players to be immediately at their sharpest, but has demanded concentration under pressure.

He continued: “If we want to be [in the play-offs]at the end [of the season], we have to restart very focused and ready mentally.

“Physically, technically and tactically we will need a little bit more for two or three games, but it is the same for all teams.

“We will play every four days, [for]five weeks and we play the season now. In basketball, they say about the ‘money time’ and for us, the ‘money time’ is now.”


About Author

Comments are closed.