Nottingham Forest 2-0 Ipswich Town Player Ratings: Grabban the headlines


Lewis Grabban taps home the opener –

A brace and man-of-the-match performance from Lewis Grabban saw Nottingham Forest boost their promotion hopes with a convincing 2-0 win over bottom side Ipswich Town. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Nottingham Forest

Costel Pantilimon – the Romanian came in for some criticism for his performance against Aston Villa on Wednesday, but had few problems this afternoon, holding Jackson’s stinging effort at the second attempt in one of two shots on target he faced. Although the ex-Man City stopper’s distribution was not great, in the second half he slowed the play down in a way that suited Forest. 6

Tendayi Darikwa – the former Burnley right-back was one of the main players who gave Forest’s performance some early momentum with his driving runs. Not only was it Darikwa’s shot that led to the opener, it was also his cross that led to the second, as the ex-Chesterfield man enjoyed a very lively opening period, seeing another shot tipped over. Quieter in the second half, in which width from full-backs was less of a necessity; on this evidence though, positional rival Saidy Janko will need to be patient. 9
Michael Dawson – the Forest legend was guilty of one slip, which led to one of Ipswich’s two efforts on target, and he also allowed Jackson to get ahead of him for a close-range header midway through the first half. In fairness to Dawson, he did well to win five aerial duels but the 35-year-old wouldn’t necessarily rank among the key figures behind this victory. 7
Michael Hefele – the big centre-back, who came in for the suspended Tobias Figuieredo, showed what he can do in the opposition box when he headed onto the woodwork in the first minute of the second period. His lack of pace though was at times exploited by Jackson and Forest might not want to rely too much on Hefele when they face better quality opposition; Tobias Figueiredo’s suspension for the East Midlands derby later this month could potentially be problematic. 7
Jack Robinson – the one-time Liverpool academy graduate can sometimes be guilty of not closing down his opponent, instead inviting them to put a cross in, as we saw in the lead-up to Jackson’s headed opportunity; he does not always offer the width required from full-back, especially when he receives the ball without teammates nearby. However, Robinson moved to centre-back for the final 11 minutes and his distribution there surpassed the level of quality that Dawson and Hefele had shown. 7

Jack Colback – the former Newcastle midfielder is one of the second-tier’s most tenacious tacklers; occasionally, his commitment to challenges leads him to lose his balance, but any drawbacks to having Colback in Forest’s midfield are far, far outweighed by the benefits. He is first to a lot of second balls, he retains possession effectively – boasting an 87% pass completion ratio in the Championship – and has a willingness to push forward after shifting it on, creating space for others. At this level, he is the ultimate team player. 9
Adlene Guedioura – after Claudio Yacob endured an off-night at Villa Park, Karanka’s decision to bring in Guedioura was the right one. The Algerian not only has the presence to win physical duels in the middle third, he also offers an extra element of verve and dynamism to Forest’s other midfielders; plus, he has the audacity to try cross-field passes which allows Forest to switch play effectively. On this evidence, he is of the most complete Championship midfielders. 9

Joe Lolley – the wide forward grabbed four assists and one goal on Wednesday and looked buoyed here, always happy to accept the ball under pressure and turn to explode into gaps between the lines. Rather than attack the flank, Lolley used his quick feet to go on a series of mazy dribbles, one of which could have led to the goal of the game had he found the finish to match his excellent footwork. 8
Joao Carvalho – the Portuguese playmaker has shown some impressive, delicate touches on Trentside, as well as the ability to pick pin-point passes in tight areas. Equally though, Carvalho has both the aggression and intelligence to contribute to Forest’s pressing and the 21-year-old’s work helped pin Ipswich back for long spells. 8
Gil Dias – the wide man joined on loan from Monaco in the summer, perhaps expecting to play regularly, but Matty Cash’s displays have stiffened competition on the left-wing. Starting his 10th league game, Dias was not shy to tease defenders but, rather than take them on directly, he tended to cut inside and combine with his teammates. Showed good movement shortly before the half-hour mark to find himself free at the back-post, nodding onto the woodwork. 7

Lewis Grabban – the hardworking striker, who was part of Aston Villa’s top six finish last season, started the season without a goal in six, but has now bagged 14 in his last 13 league appearances. He had the awareness to follow in Darikwa’s effort for the opener, then nodded home at the back-post from the same teammates cross and could have had a couple more in the second half; one rasping, tight-angled effort hit the woodwork, one counter-attacking shot was saved before another was blocked. The front-man showed impeccable desire to sprint and battle for every ball, as well as power and technical proficiency – what a performance! 10

Ben Osborn (on 79) – the academy graduate thrived in Mark Warburton’s 4-3-3 system but, lacking the specific skillset to naturally play anywhere in Aitor Karanka’s 4-2-3-1, he has often found himself on the sidelines. Played left-back for the final 11 minutes competently enough but, clearly, that is not the position that will get the most out of him. 6
Karim Ansarifard (on 88) – the Iranian’s mobility made him a threat on the break, but he will have been disappointed not to add a third goal for Forest after being teed up beautifully by Carvalho, tapping wide from a one-on-one scenario. 6
Matty Cash (on 90+3) – the academy graduate offers, perhaps, a slightly quicker, more direct alternative to Dias on that left hand side, even if his appearance on this occasion was too short for him to demonstrate that skillset. 5

Ipswich Town

Bartosz Bialkowski – the Pole has been hugely important to Ipswich over the previous two seasons but is having a severe dip in form this term. Wednesday’s overt error against Bristol City was followed by another on Trentside, spilling Darikwa’s shot into Grabban. In fairness, he could have done little about the striker’s second goal and denied him a hat-trick in the second half as well as saving from Lolley, but he needs to cut those errors out quickly. 5

Jordan Spence – the right-back did little to alleviate the pressure on himself here. The only argument for not starting Janoi Donacien, who offers pace, power and raw determination, is because the ex-Accrington man might lack tactical and technical nous. Spence though, who does not overtly show the above qualities, only completed 56% of his passes and failed to track runners. He therefore has significant work to do to highlight precisely which qualities he can offer this Town side. 4
Luke Chambers – in the last two seasons, Chambers has not quite been at his best but at times found himself bailed out by the goalkeeper. Without having that luxury this year, the veteran is not only declining in ability, his errors are seemingly becoming more costly; a failure to defend his back-post effectively could easily have cost Ipswich two goals rather than one had Dias not found the woodwork. The defender deserves credit for reaching 300 appearances for the Tractor Boys but, after so many of his passes being fearful back-to-the-keeper plays, one wonders whether he has passed the peak of his powers. 4
Matthew Pennington – the Everton loanee’s best moments from the game include one nice overlapping run in the early exchanges, followed by a solid block on Grabban’s second half effort, but it was an otherwise underwhelming display from the centre-back. He failed to track Grabban’s run after Darikwa’s shot was spilt, he gave the ball away on numerous occasions and lacked the bravery to carry out simple defensive tasks. 5
Jonas Knudsen – the Denmark international’s long throws are important for Ipswich, at a time at which they might find it difficult to create chances in open play. His lack of pace though is problematic, both defensively and going forward. Myles Kenlock’s return to full fitness might give Paul Lambert a different option. 5

Teddy Bishop – the performance from the academy graduate, who is only just recovering from another long-term injury, can be considered the main positive from Ipswich’s afternoon. Bishop pressed enthusiastically and showed neat feet to aid their better attacking moves. The 22-year-old, arguably their most productive player in terms of both tackles and dribbles, has an affinity with fans and can play a major part in their quest for survival. 7
Cole Skuse – as the only experienced midfielder available, the 32-year-old has not been challenged too much for his starts. Although Skuse can read the game reasonably well and offer aggression where needed, he is technically limited and lacks the stamina to press for long periods without being caught out; on one occasion, he was forced to commit a cynical foul one second after letting an opponent get the wrong side of him. 4
Grant Ward – the ex-Rotherham man’s performance came to life for a brief period midway through the first half, when he enjoyed his stand-out moment: an accurate cross that Jackson nodded wide from close-range. Ward was otherwise anonymous, managing just 24 touches in 59 minutes, only two of which coming in the final third. 4

Jack Lankester – the 18-year-old had looked bright from the bench in previous games, but the first Championship start for a man who has spent time on loan at eighth-tier Bury Town this calender year, understandably, proved daunting. Had little chance with physical duels with battle-hardened pros like Guedioura although, in fairness, he still mustered Ipswich’s best shot of the second period; a curling effort from outside the box which flew wide. 6
Kayden Jackson – the former Accrington striker’s prominence was confined to within a six-minute period midway through the first half. Although his pace and persistence gave him an advantage over opposing centre-backs, the quality of his finishing was mixed; after one sliced effort on the break, he glanced wide from close-range before stinging Pantilimon’s palms from distance. In these types of games, Jackson will not get a lot of chances, so he needs to quickly become more ruthless in front of goal. 6
Freddie Sears – the long-serving forward has been Ipswich’s main goal threat of late with four in his last five, but here, 22 of his 39 touches were in Ipswich’s half. Sears was largely occupied by Darikwa’s runs and appeared at times to get frustrated, losing an element of forward momentum in the process. 5

Trevoh Chalobah (on 59) – the Chelsea loanee can show flashes of potential due to his ability to increase the tempo of Ipswich’s play with quick feet, but he also displays moments of naivety and poor decision-making. 6
Jordan Roberts (on 59) – the forward has his critics at Portman Road, but his work ethic here could not be faulted; Roberts willingly chased lost causes but simply could not get in behind Dawson and Hefele. 6
Jon Nolan (on 72) – while at Shrewsbury, Nolan was known for his ability to slot clever through balls in behind defences but, so impressive was Forest’s game management, he only once touched the ball in the final third. 5