Mitchell Waller / @MitchellWaller9
An afternoon to forget for Grant McCann’s side after suffering a two nil home defeat courtesy of a Lewis Grabban brace to play off chasing Nottingham Forest at the KCOM Stadium. The spectacle was observed by just over fifteen thousand supporters; the second highest attendance for the tigers this campaign, second only to the fixture against Derby County in October.
Grant McCann introduced Daniel Batty back into the starting line up along side ever impressing Leonardo Da Silva Lopes in a bid to allow Jackson Irvine to uptake a more attacking role in his system. Micheal Dawson; who had a large stint in East Yorkshire didn’t make the side after not impressing in his last cohort of fixtures. City lost the coin toss and were forced to attack towards the south stand for the first time this season as the game got underway at 3pm.
Chances came few and far between during the opening forty five minutes, however it was Jackson Irvine who had his head in his hands during the opening stages after blazing an effort from 6 yards out over the crossbar and into the south stand from a dangerous ball played in from a free kick.
The away side then we’re awarded a penalty after Daniel Batty proceeded to bring down his man within the penalty area after ten minutes. Lewis Grabban cooly slotted away the resulting penalty sending the two thousand strong travelling fans into ecstasy.
Nottingham Forest’s ability to manage the fixture was displayed predominantly throughout the first half as they ‘played the clock’ in an attempt to break up the fast flowing rhythmic football which City have showcased on numerous occasions this season. This was evident throughout the fixture and moreover, was highlighted by the five minutes of additional time held up by the substitute board.
Midway through the half, Joe Lolley’s acrobatics where met by a chorus of jeers by the Hull City supporters in the east stand after Reece Burke’s poor headed clearance set the forest danger man up, however to the delight and relief of George Long, the attempt was high and wide of the target. City found it difficult to get into the groove of the game, as Kamil Grosicki’s tame left footed strike didn’t cause too many difficulties for Brice Samba in the Nottingham Forest net.
The Tigers then had a penalty shout waved away by the referee who was in a good position to dismiss the appeals, as Kamil Grosicki played a lofted ball into the area for Jarrod Bowen to get onto the end of, however the tigers ‘star man’ looked to have collided with the Nottingham Forest defender during his attempt on goal.
City were forced into making a substitution after Callum Elder appeared to have done some damage to his hamstring during the first half, as a result of this, Stephen Kingsley was introduced: a player who hasn’t caught the appraisal of many supporters this season.
It would be unrealistic to suggest that Grant McCann wasn’t pleased with his sides performance during the first half and acted swiftly into making a substitution at half time, he opted to remove pontefract born Daniel Batty in favour of Josh Bowler. This enabled him to allow Bowen to play more centrally as we have seen on numerous occasions throughout the season and forcing Josh Bowler onto the right hand side with Jackson Irvine shifted into a less attacking role alongside Leonardo Da Silva Lopes.
The second half began with a missed opportunity for Tom Eaves after a set piece was played in from the right hand side towards the penalty area and resulted in a poor header which didn’t trouble Brice Samba in the Forest goal. Nottingham Forest kept a monotonic tempo throughout the game which was effective as they frustrated City all afternoon. They had another chance to increase the scoreline after a corner was poorly cleared by an intelligent yet ineffective clearance by Leonardo Da Silva Lopes which dropped to a Forest man just outside of the penalty area, he volleyed past a sea of black and amber shirts, but this was easily dealt with by George Long who produced a low foot save to keep the tigers in the fixture.
The home side exerted heavy pressure and committed bodies forward, however chances were repeatedly squandered; Nottingham Forest were comfortable in absorbing the pressure applied by the hosts and resorted to catching City on the break. This was evident when Matty Cash found himself on the left hand side of midfield with no real pressure applied to him, which allowed him to deliver a low ball into the penalty area which wasn’t dealt with by the tigers back line. This allowed goalscorer Lewis Grabban to scurry an effort which just rolled past the post.
Grant McCann introduced George Honeyman into the system to the expense of Leonardo Da Silva Lopes in an attempt to grasp a foothold in the tie. The tigers best chance of the game arguably came from a delicious ball played in by captain Eric Lichaj which found the diving header of Jarrod Bowen. Unfortunately, he was unable to convert from close range as his header glanced past Brice Samba’s far post.
This key moment in the game would prove costly as minutes later Nottingham Forest broke and a ball played through the wide open midfield found danger man Lewis Grabban who took a touch to beat his man and dispatch the effort past George Long at his near post. That was the final nail in the tigers coffin which saw Nottingham Forest climb up into 7th position in the championship table, one point of 6th place.
It is notable to add, Jarrod Bowen arguably should’ve received his marching orders midway through the second half. It appeared that the ‘star man’ was dragged onto the Nottingham Forest player who had just committed the foul against him and replays show him making an attempt to throw a punch at Forest man. However, the referee deemed the ordeal only to be worthy of a yellow card.
The afternoon was deservedly won by Nottingham Forest who managed the fixture well and took their chances throughout the course of the game. The attention for Grant McCann’s men turns to Queens Park Rangers on Sunday as they look to obtain three points during this hectic festive period.