By Michael Callander
Nottingham Forest will host Barnsley on Saturday as they look to recover from two defeats in five days.
The Reds lost 2 – 1 to Middlesbrough at the City Ground last Wednesday in the SkyBet Championship, and were on the wrong end of a 5 – 1 scoreline at the Liberty Stadium as they faced Swansea City in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round last Saturday.
Chris Hughton’s side had been on their best run of the season until Middlesbrough arrived Trentside, going seven games without defeat before former Forest man Britt Assombalonga and George Saville scored early in each half.
The less said about the performance in South Wales the better, but on a positive note, Forest are now only fighting on one front until the end of the season. Though the scoreline and performance perturbed fans on social media, not progressing and being able to focus on their Championship campaign may prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Liam Cullen (2), Matt Grimes (2) and Oliver Cooper inflicted Forest’s heaviest defeat of the season, with Anthony Knockaert scoring a consolation goal, his first since extending his loan until the end of the season.
To the weekend then. Forest have had a free midweek, with no match on Tuesday night, but the same can’t be said of their next opponents.
Barnsley host Mick McCarthy’s Cardiff City on Wednesday night, and Forest will hope to take advantage of their freshness and get things back on track.
Former Wolves and Republic of Ireland manager, McCarthy was born in Barnsley and joined Cardiff earlier this month, having been sacked by Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia after just two months.
The Tykes are having a fantastic season so far and sit 12th, which would be a huge improvement on their final position of 21st last season. Like Rotherham, they’ve been something of a yo-yo club in recent years, bouncing between the top of League One and the bottom of the Championship every other season.
Forest lost both of their most recent encounters with Saturday’s visitors without scoring, both away at Oakwell. They may not have a packed City Ground to back them on Saturday but aren’t at risk of extending their recent hoodoo in South Yorkshire. They avenged last season’s 4 – 0 home loss to Barnsley’s neighbours Sheffield Wednesday in November with a 2 – 0 win, so will hope they can put in a similar performance against Valérien Ismaël’s side.
Barnsley are on the downturn recently, having lost all three of their games in 2021, against Norwich, Swansea and Watford.