Nottingham Forest vs Derby
Friday October 23, 19:45
Nottingham Forest foiled in midweek
Chris Hughton's first home game in charge of Nottingham Forest ended in a 1-1 draw against Rotherham on Tuesday night, as his team were forced to come from behind. After a scrappy first half, the Millers took the lead early in the second period from the penalty spot but the Reds reacted well, mounting sustained pressure as they searched for a way back in.
Ryan Yates and Joe Lolley both hit the woodwork for the Tricky Trees before Sammy Ameobi equalised heading into the final 10 minutes. Forest pressed hard for a winner, with Lewis Grabban missing a golden opportunity late on, but Hughton's troops were forced to settle for a share of the spoils at the City Ground despite generating 3.12 Expected Goals (xG).
Hughton named an unchanged starting XI and there was once again no place in the matchday squad for Anthony Knockaert, after his deadline day move last Friday. Jack Colback was fit to start in midfield with Lolley joining Luke Freeman and Ameobi in an attacking three to support lone striker Grabban with Lyle Taylor utilised off the bench.
Pressure mounting on Cocu and Derby
Derby's miserable opening to the Championship season continued in midweek as County lost 1-0 at Huddersfield. Juninho Bacuna's goal in the 53rd minute settled the clash as Phillip Cocu's men suffered a second consecutive game without scoring, slumping to 21st in the standings after a wretched W1-D0-L5 from their first six league games of the campaign.
With Wayne Rooney unavailable and neither Martyn Waghorn nor new signing Colin Kazim-Richards fit enough to start, Cocu paired Kamil Jozwiak and Tom Lawrence in attack for Tuesday night's loss. Derby actually enjoyed the better of the opening period but failed to conjure up any outstanding opportunities and were made to pay for their timid approach.
County nearly grabbed a late equaliser but Matt Clarke's header from Waghorn's cross hit the post. Cocu knows a major improvement is required to stave off speculation surrounding his future at Pride. Supporters are suggesting that Friday night's East Midlands derby fixture is the Dutchman's last chance to inspire a positive turnaround.
Reds have enjoyed recent meetings
Nottingham Forest have suffered just a solitary reverse in the last eight East Midlands derby dates with Derby (W3-D4-L1), silencing the Rams in five of their most recent six meetings. The Tricky Trees have been beaten once in nine when welcoming their bitter rivals to the City Ground (W5-D3-L1) going back to 2012, recording six shutouts in that same sample.
Nottingham Forest 2.001/1 opened their account with four successive defeats before Sabri Lamouchi was dismissed. Chris Hughton's since collected four points from his first two fixtures and seen the Tricky Trees comfortably win the Expected Goals (xG) battle in both contests with Blackburn and Rotherham suggesting a sustained upturn is forthcoming.
Derby 4.003/1 have managed only two goals across their first six league matches - nine hours of football - suffering five losses, and the pressure is now on Phillip Cocu to turn the tide promptly. The Rams have been beaten in 14 of their 26 road Championship trips under the Dutchman's watch and make little appeal following a series of uninspiring efforts.
Goals at a premium
Eight of the past 10 East Midlands derbies have featured Under 2.5 Goals 1.705/7 - the most recent five meetings have produced a total of only four goals - and a low-scoring repeat could be on the cards considering what's at stake in Friday night's showdown.
Only three of the duos collective 12 Championship contests have featured three goals or more with the league average standing at a huge 73% success rate for Under 2.5 Goals backers thus far. Chuck in Derby's lack of offensive bite, plus Forest's improved defensive stability under Chris Hughton and opposing goals appeals, even at the 1.705/7 offering.