Aitor Karanka says fans can be proud but Nottingham Forest should have beaten Derby County

Action from the first half between Derby County vs Nottingham Forest at Pride Park Stadium Derby - 17-12-18  - image Jez Tighe
Action from the first half between Derby County vs Nottingham Forest at Pride Park Stadium Derby - 17-12-18 - image Jez Tighe

Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka says the Reds’ faithful can be proud of their team.

But he believes they should have left Pride Park celebrating a win following Monday night’s 0-0 draw.

Both teams had chances to open the scoring with Tom Huddlestone turning over the bar from close range for Derby whilst Joe Lolley struck the woodwork for Forest. In the end, neither side could find a decisive, break through with the promotion-chasers having to settle for a point each.

Speaking after the game, Karanka said his side did enough to secure a win against their bitter rivals.

“I think we should have won the game,” said the former Real Madrid assistant.

“We had the clearest chances. They had chances but the clearest chances were ours. Lewis Grabban had a really clear opportunity at the end of the first half and Joe Lolley hit the cross bar.

“For the first 25-30 minutes, we weren’t as good as I wanted us to be but for the last part of the first half, and the second half, we were better. We were compact and everyone was committed.

“I said before the game I wanted the crowd to be proud of the team and I think they can be.”

Karanka was forced to field a make shift defence due to the unavailability of three, key central defenders but the Forest back four chosen stood firm to keep an impressive clean sheet and the Spaniard was full of praise for the character they showed.

“The main thing for me is even with us missing players like Danny Fox, Michael Dawson or Tobias Figuereido, we were really good. They are good players, they are big players on the pitch and in these games, you can miss them.

“I knew Hefele was doing good, Jack Robinson is playing really well every single game as a central defender and it wasn’t the first time Saidy Janko was playing at left back. It wasn’t about the skills, it was about the character but they were really good.”

As often is the case in fiery, local derbies, the referee was the centre of attention at times with many Forest fans believing Keith Stroud should have shown red cards to Derby pair Jayden Bogle and Fikayo Tomori. Quizzed about the incident post-match, Karanka refused to be drawn into commenting on the referee and instead wanted to direct praise onto his players.

“I don’t want to say anything because it’s difficult for the referees and I prefer to focus on the good things in our performance.

“After a few years coming here and losing, I think the club can be, and should be proud of the team.”