Throughout the second half of the 2018/19 season, millwallfc.co.uk will be analysing our opponents by taking a look back at their campaign so far. As The Lions prepare to take on Nottingham Forest at The Den, here is a review of our opponents’ results this season…
As Nottingham Forest prepared for Aitor Karanka’s first full season in charge, the club picked up where they left off last January to make further reinforcements as the Spaniard further revamped his squad. Former Lions striker Lewis Grabban arrived from AFC Bournemouth, along with Portuguese duo Joao Carvalho and Tobias Figueiredo among others. The likes of Eric Lichaj, Barrie McKay and Ashkan Dejagah departed the City Ground. A solid pre-season for Forest saw them win four of their six games, keeping clean sheets in every win – beating clubs such as Bournemouth, Malaga and Scunthorpe United.
While August proved to be an unbeaten opening month for the side in the Sky Bet Championship, four draws from five games showed there was still room for improvement. A 1-0 victory over Reading was sandwiched between the stalemates, leaving Forest 13th going into September. In the Carabao Cup, Karanka’s men secured passage into the Third Round after a penalty-shootout win over Bury, and eliminating Newcastle United for the second successive year.
A slightly improved September saw Forest pick up one more point than the previous month, rising to 11th. The team’s first defeat of the season came away at Brentford, before a draw at Swansea City was followed up by successive home wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham United, seeing Grabban and Carvalho in inspired form. Two more goals for the former away at Blackburn Rovers arrived in a 2-2 draw.
Problems with draws looked to creep into the Forest team as October began, when Neil Harris’ Lions opened the month at the City Ground. A dominant Millwall display saw missed chances punished by the hosts, who took a two-goal lead either side of the interval through Joe Lolley and Carvalho. Shaun Williams and Lee Gregory dramatically restored the game, though the Play-Offs were still well in sight for Karanka with an extremely tight top half of the division. They managed to find a way into the top six with an impressive 2-0 win at Middlesbrough, before being pegged back at home by Norwich City who won 2-1. Two away games followed, easing past Bolton Wanderers 3-0 before securing a point at Leeds United. Forest were eliminated from the Carabao Cup at the Fourth Round phase by Semi-Finalists Burton Albion.
Forest started November by moving back into the Play-Offs, triumphing over Sheffield United at the City Ground. Whilst Karanka has a talented squad at his disposal who have put in several top performances, Forest have often struggled for consistency in their winning form so far this season, subsequently hovering in and around the top six. A goalless draw at home to Stoke City was followed by a 2-0 victory at Hull City, before the side played out arguably the most entertaining match of the season, a thrilling 5-5 draw at Villa Park against an Aston Villa outfit who both trailed by two goals and led on the night. A dazzling display from boyhood Villa fan Lolley – who claimed a wonderful goal and four assists – inspired Forest to a well-earned point. The unbeaten month left the side fifth in the Championship table.
With Karanka expected to have plenty in mind with the January transfer window approaching, December has been a time for his squad to make a case to show they are good enough for his vastly-changing team. Forest made it seven games unbeaten as the month began, securing a 2-0 victory over basement side Ipswich Town. However, since then it has been a rockier road for the team, who were beaten 1-0 at home by both Preston North End and Queens Park Rangers either side of a local derby stalemate at Derby County. Times have been a rollercoaster over the recent weeks for Forest fans, which were not to become easier after another enthralling game ended all square at Norwich on Boxing Day, incredibly letting a fantastic 3-0 lead at Carrow Road slip with the spoils shared 3-3 – The Canaries netting a treble in the final minutes.