Nottingham Forest 2-1 Brentford Player Ratings: Milosevic makes his mark

Lewis Grabban slides home the opener – bbc.co.uk

Nottingham Forest gave their feint play-off hopes a boost on Saturday thanks to a 2-1 triumph over Brentford, with goals coming from Lewis Grabban and Molla Wague. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Nottingham Forest

Costel Pantilimon – the Romanian looked at times suspect, half-spilling one cross and one shot that he might have expected to hold onto; plus, his involvement in Brentford’s goal could be questioned too. However, he did make a good save low to his right to deny Maupay late in the first half. 4

Saidy Janko – the right-back’s physical qualities allowed him to dominate the flank in a defensive sense, although we did not see quite as many lung-busting forward darts as we may have expected and his use of the ball left something to be desired. 5

Alexander Milosevic – considering the centre-back joined in January, it is impressive quite how vocal he has been in terms of leadership. The Swede made one or two important interceptions, plus one block from Canos late on, he generally had the better of his duels with Maupay and played an excellent ball over the top that led to Grabban’s opener. 8
Jack Robinson – this was perhaps the right type of game for Robinson to play at centre-back, because he was not handed too many aerial duels that might have exposed one or two limitations in his game. In this instance, one first half slip aside, he was able to use his efficient reading of the game to good effect with an important late block from Canos. He also got impeccable distance on one or two long throws, one of which set up a good chance for Lolley. 7
Ben Osborn – for a player operating out of position, Osborn did a good job at left-back. He bailed out Robinson on one first half occasion, covering the centre-back position to put off Maupay when through on goal. In possession, meanwhile, he picked some positive forward passes including one inch-perfect ball down the line for Grabban. 7

Matty Cash – the academy graduate looked slightly better-suited than Lolley to Martin O’Neill’s methods; he did some good work without the ball to help Janko keep Odubajo quiet and also made some direct forward runs in and out of possession. Perhaps unlike Lolley though, he was not involved directly in the creation of Forest’s major chances. 6
Ryan Yates – when the academy graduate was on loan at Notts County and Scunthorpe, he was given the licence to dictate play with some real technical ability. Here, he had to adjust to a more circumspect role and that, he did admirably, denying space for opponents in key areas with strong challenges to boot. If the system were to change slightly however, Yates could produce a level of performance even higher than the level that won him the official man-of-the-match award. 7
Ben Watson – the experienced midfielder added steel and sound positional awareness, denying space for Brentford’s trio to combine centrally. Equally though, the former Palace man was not particularly eager to get on the ball and impose himself in a positive sense. A 50% pass completion ratio is poor; Jack Colback, when back in the squad, will match what Watson can do without the ball whilst recycling it more efficiently. 5
Joe Lolley – the versatile forward delivered the corner that led to Wague’s goal, set up a presentable opening for Bonatini with a bright run down the left and accurately slid Goncalves through one-on-one, yet it would be misleading to say he was a prominent influence on the game. Part of the problem is Lolley makes winding runs with the ball, rather than runs in straight lines, meaning that in a counter-attacking system, the speed of forward play can suffer slightly. Might have done better with his first half effort following a long throw, too. 6

Leo Bonatini – after a lively first few minutes, Bonatini’s performance quickly petered out and there were times when it became clear that his application was not at the level of his strike-partner. There might be a fitness issue of some kind because, after missing a presentable opening from Lolley’s pull-back, the Brazilian was withdrawn at the break. 4
Lewis Grabban – it has been clear all season that Lewis Grabban is among Nottingham Forest’s best players and he needed to be their star man once again. He hassled and harried from the off in a powerful, tenacious performance, so the manner in which he scored the hosts’ 16th-minute opener came as no surprise. The former Bournemouth man chased a hopeful ball down the right channel from Matty Cash and, through sheer persistence, got the better of Julian Jeanvier – who, himself, is no lightweight – before sliding the ball past Daniel Bentley. Also won the penalty, fortuitously, before being denied by a good save and on another day could have had a hat-trick. 8

Diogo Goncalves (on 45) – the wide forward looked lively soon after coming on and rounded the keeper to force a goal-line clearance from Dalsgaard, although he remains lacking in upper-body strength. 7
Molla Wague (on 70) – the Malian centre-back might not have been expecting to score his first goal for the Reds nine minutes into his debut, but certainly offered aerial prowess. 8
Karim Ansarifard (on 87) – added raw energy but was very keen to go over under minimal pressure, perhaps wanting to buy free-kicks for his side. 6

Brentford

Daniel Bentley – the goalkeeper has not had the best of campaigns and had a mixed afternoon on Trentside. After brilliantly saving Grabban’s second half penalty as well as Watson’s follow-up, he might have done better when failing to catch Lolley’s corner for the second. 5

Ezri Konsa – the Charlton academy graduate might have been quicker to get onto the goal-line to stop Grabban’s opener and while he was as composed in possession as expected, his range of passing was not quite at the level it can be. Failed to reach one pass from Barbet, then in trying to keep it in play, handed the ball to Lolley in a slip-up that nearly saw the Bees fall two down before the break. 4
Julian Jeanvier – appears to have added some extra physicality and aggression to Brentford’s defence. While it is tempting to look upon his involvement in Forest’s opening goal in a negative way, he was actually far more active in trying to stop it than his peers. Should not have been penalized for a foul on Grabban in the box when trying to cover for Konsa’s error and was the best of the three centre-backs. 7
Yoan Barbet – the Frenchman hit three powerful free-kicks, of which one forced Pantilimon to tip the ball round the post. Played some nice cross-field passes to the right flank, but looked dubiously lethargic in the build-up to Forest’s opener. 5

Henrik Dalsgaard – the Dane showed the intent to get forward but, given how narrow the front three was, he did not always have enough options in possession, which was not ideal considering he does not have the pace to attack the flank directly. Made one important off-the-line clearance though to deny Goncalves and, also in the first half, he hit one tantalizing cross that caused an issue for Pantilimon. 5
Kamohelo Mokotjo – the South African was not afraid to get his hands dirty and, in that sense, he is a clear improvement on those who had been playing in midfield earlier in Thomas Frank’s reign; he made an important headed clearance following the penalty save, too. We did not see quite as many crisp, forward passes in the opposing half as might have been expected, but he was still a strong influence on the game. 7
Romaine Sawyers – the former Walsall man played one beautiful diagonal ball to Dalsgaard in the first half, but struggled to truly assert himself on the game for long periods. The St Kitts & Nevis international though hit the post shortly after the hour mark then, when the hosts’ midfield did not press quite as high up in the latter stages, he found more space to dictate proceedings. 6
Moses Odubajo – the former Orient man certainly has the athleticism to be a wing-back but, being right-footed, seemed unsuited the role on the left. With the ball he was keen to cut onto his right foot, without it he was very keen to make inward darts in early phases of the build-up play; both trends meant the Bees had no real width on the left flank and thus their play became congested. 4

Ollie Watkins – the former Exeter forward was quiet for much of the contest, although he did come alive in the final five minutes when he both had a goal disallowed and set up Canos’ consolation strike. Guilty of abandoning his man from a set piece on two occasions, including Wague for Forest’s second goal. 5
Neal Maupay – considering that Maupay is the Championship’s fifth-top goalscorer with 17 goals, he looked surprisingly wasteful here. When released one-on-one, his feeble effort gave Pantilimon the task of picking up a ball any amateur could have grasped; although, a stronger effort later in the first half, following good combination play with Benrahma, proved more testing. Link-play was ok but end product was lacking when it mattered. 5
Said Benrahma – the Algerian was on fire against Blackburn this week but, baring one stinging free-kick that tested Pantilimon’s palms and a moment of tidy combination play with Maupay that led to a shot late in the first half, he struggled to get into the game here. 5

Sergi Canos (on 63) – the sparkling Spaniard looked very bright, producing a number of runs deep into the final third and deserved to mark a positive appearance with a goal. 8
Josh McEachran (on 71) – added a touch of composure to the Bees midfield, which suggests he might be more effective as a substitute who can be introduced when opposing midfields are tiring. 7
Marcus Forss  (90+1) – although the Fin is highly-rated in Brentford’s B Team, he has negligible senior experience and Thomas Frank only saw fit to bring on a second striker, when chasing the game, in injury-time – does that imply a lack of depth in the centre-forward position? 5