View From The Trees
By Charlie Liptrott
Sunday 01 Mar 2020 20:17:00
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On Monday night Boro face up to Nottingham Forest in what has to be the most important game of the season. After an alarming loss of form Boro have nosedived into the bottom three. We now square up to a Nottingham Forest side playing with the confidence of a side gunning for promotion. A club that beat us home and away this season. Yet remember Paddy McNair pegged them back with an equaliser at the City Ground before Christmas, so don't write us off just yet.

I asked Forest fan and MA journalism student Charlie Liptrott to give us a view from the away end. Charlie looks into his crystal ball and sees the wood for the trees with a Forest perspective on this vital Riverside encounter – Boro v Nottingham Forest.. take it away Charles.

Nottingham Forest go into the game against Middlesbrough on Monday looking for three points to help secure their place in the playoffs. Automatic promotion seems a little unrealistic now, with West Brom and Leeds both overcoming their recent dips in form. The issue is that it’s so volatile in the playoffs, if Forest drop points and other results go against them, they could slip from third to sixth, and only be above Bristol City on goal difference.

Forest have the joint second-best away record in The Championship, tied with Leeds, and have also picked up more points in 2020 than any other team in the league. Playing away from home suits them, as they don’t play with the ball and sit back – so Middlesbrough could maybe find some joy if they force Forest to try and break them down. Woodgate could also find some comfort in Forest’s seemingly poor results against teams that, on paper, they should beat. A 0-0 draw at home against QPR, a 1-0 home loss to Charlton and a 2-1 loss to Birmingham are just a few examples of this.

Middlesbrough need to look out for Right Back Matty Cash who has been Forest’s best player this season and isn’t scared to go in for a tackle or two. Joe Lolley has hit form after a shaky start to the season, and Lewis Grabban is Forest’s main man up top – even though he hasn’t scored in seven matches. It will be interesting to see if Samba Sow plays in midfield due to a knee injury – Forest play much better with him in the side (losing only one of the nineteen games he’s featured in) so if he’s omitted from the team sheet it could be a huge boost for Middlesbrough.

Manager Sabri Lamouchi’s future at the City Ground is up in the air, with his contract running out at the end of the season. The fans obviously want him to stay and keeping managers has been a problem at Forest in recent times (Lamouchi is the fourth permanent manager at the club in two years) and with the job he’s done this year he will be a man in demand.

Forest and Middlesbrough have had some connections recently, both experiencing Aitor Karanka as manager, and with Middlesbrough’s record signing, Britt Assombalonga, coming from Forest. I personally remember a game where Forest came from a goal down to beat Karanka’s Middlesbrough at the City Ground, as I sat behind the Middlesbrough goal as Gary Gardner curled in a beautiful equaliser on the way to Forest winning 2-1. Forest have had mixed results against them, with some good wins (a 2-0 away win in 2018) and some bad losses (a 2-1 home loss and a missed penalty in 2015).

But, both teams need the three points for different reasons, given where they are in the table. As mentioned, Forest struggle against teams they really should be beating, but I will go for a 1-0 away win regardless - but wouldn’t be surprised if Middlesbrough manage to get something.

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