Last week I called for an injection of youth into the Forest first team and I was delighted to see Arvin Appiah get his second consecutive start as the Reds took on Blackburn Rovers.
When I was handed the NFFC team sheet at 2pm on Saturday, I was somewhat confused. After a few minutes of scribbling down possible formations and player positions I succumbed to the reality of Jack Colback playing in defence.
To be honest, I wasn’t too perturbed by the reshuffle and subsequent inclusion of various players, I was more interested in seeing the potential going forward.
For most of the 27,786 supporters in the ground it was a frustrating 90 minutes of football, especially for the home fans who were treated to a solitary shot on target. Forest looked disjointed and anything but cohesive as they laboured to the odd attack here and there without any real conviction.
On paper, an attacking midfield three of Lolley, Cash and Appiah looked decent, but the reality was somewhat different to the expectation. Lolley isn’t a No10 and Cash, for all his endeavour, fails to propel fans to the edge of their seats. Matty Cash struggled to get the better of Amari’i Bell on almost every occasion and appeared bereft of ideas towards the end. Remarkably, he was awarded the sponsors man of the match award.
Arvin Appiah again looked lively and linked up well with the excellent Sam Byram. Going forward, I’d like to see the pair regularly next season. As for several others, I just don’t think they’re good enough to compete at play off level and above in the Championship.
Appiah, who’s just 18 years of age, meaning that Forest haven’t been in the top flight during his lifetime, looks an exciting prospect. For a wide man he possesses the key attribute that I crave of players in his position; he wants to beat his man. Sounds basic doesn’t it? But we’ve seen many a player on the City Ground flanks who’ve lacked the bravery to go at the full back in recent times, happy instead to do a Cruyff turn and revert backwards or sideways.
When Appiah switched wings in the second period, I got genuinely excited at the prospect of a head to head battle with Amari’i Bell, and he didn’t disappoint as he began to put the Rovers man on the back foot. However, just as he began to assert a bit of authority over his opponent he was withdrawn from the contest by Martin O’Neill. In my opinion, Cash would have been the man to replace given his inability to beat his man and the rising frustration levels that accompany his game in such situations.
Regardless of his early withdrawal, Arvin Appiah’s inclusion in the starting line up echoed my sentiments from last week. Hopefully, he will be granted the same opportunity for the remaining four matches.
As I alluded to earlier in the piece, it was a disjointed and lack lustre performance which triggered an exodus of home fans well before the final whistle. Yes, there were chances, but they were woefully spurned by the likes of Grabban and Murphy respectively.
Martin O’Neill hinted afterwards at widespread personnel changes in the close season, which Forest fans will welcome with open arms. The retainer list will not be a sizable one but I’m certain Arvin Appiah will have a big part to play come the start of the 2019/20 campaign.