Cardiff v Nottingham Forest
Sunday January 30, 16:00
Morison reads the riot act at Cardiff
Cardiff chief Steve Morison launched an impassioned rant at his players after seeing the Bluebirds surrender a lead in the 3-2 derby loss to Bristol City last weekend. The capital club had opened the scoring through James Collins but couldn't hold onto their advantage at Ashton Gate with the meek manner of the goals conceded particularly disheartening.
Morison said: "We weren't good enough, we just got outfought in the second half. Outbattled. It's mind-boggling at times, you are flabbergasted. We need to be better. It's just not acceptable, second-half performances like that. It's got to come from within.
Cardiff's defeat leaves them 20th in the Championship table, hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone. With 10 senior squad members out of contract in the summer, the Bluebirds boss also told his underperforming stars that they're now playing for their futures over the coming months, demanding a reaction this weekend against Nottingham Forest.
Forest earn fourth straight success
Nottingham Forest rattled off a fourth straight win in all competitions to see off rock-bottom Barnsley 3-0 on Tuesday. On-loan Aston Villa striker Keinan Davis' first goal for the Reds set the ball rolling as Steve Cooper's men scored before the interval for the first time since 20th November. Ryan Yates and Brennan Johnson wrapped up matters after the break.
The quartet of consecutive triumphs equals seventh-placed Forest's longest streak since March 2013 and is the second time the Tricky Trees have achieved the feat under Cooper's watch, a remarkable turnaround considering the coach inherited the City Ground club when they were winless and sitting bottom of the Championship back in mid-September.
And Cooper still believes there's more work to be done. He said: "I enjoyed the goals, we should have scored a couple more, I didn't love the performance, particularly in the second half. We're a much better team than what we showed so in some ways the result and the performance didn't really match up. We're trying to raise standards in every part of the club and that includes the team on the pitch and if I feel they fall a bit short then I'll say it."
Curiously, the away side has succeeded in nine of the most recent 12 renewals between Cardiff and Nottingham Forest in league action. The Bluebirds were 2-1 victors at the City Ground in the reverse meeting, while the two previous campaigns both saw the visiting team take top honours - Forest are therefore chasing a third straight success at Cardiff.
Cardiff 2.9015/8 are three points above the drop-zone but take out the points penalties handed out to Reading and Derby, and the Bluebirds would be sitting third-bottom. Steve Morison's charges own the worst home record in the division (W2-D1-L9) and have scored just nine home goals. The hosts have also kept a league-low tally of just one clean sheet this term.
Nottingham Forest 2.747/4 sit second in the Championship standings based on results since Steve Cooper took charge (W11-D6-L3). All three defeats came against top-eight outfits with the Tricky Trees returning W11-D3-L1 in matches against bottom-half teams this season. The guests have W6-D4-L3 on their travels, boasting the second-best defence in the division.
Contests involving Cardiff have produced the fifth-highest goals per-game figure with 2.88 goals on average across the campaign. Yet matches in the Welsh capital have tended to be tamer affairs with the output dropping to 2.33 goals per-game, and only 5/12 (42%) fixtures featuring Over 2.5 Goals 2.1011/10, as City have fired blanks in seven of those showdowns.
Nottingham Forest are trending in the right direction but also have a penchant for tight encounters when taking to the road. Five of the Reds' most recent six away days have seen fewer than three goals, suggesting another low-scoring encounter could be on the cards.
However, the best value bet can be found elsewhere. Nottingham Forest Draw No Bet is available at a generous 1.804/5 and makes plenty of appeal considering the Tricky Trees have suffered only three defeats in 20 under Steve Cooper, the visitors' exceptional record against bottom-half opposition, as well as Cardiff's own struggles at home and in defence.