Football Features

West Brom 2-2 Nottingham Forest: How bad habits cost the Championship league leaders

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:52, 15 February 2020

Nottingham Forest snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat at West Brom this afternoon.

In a highly entertaining 2-2 stalemate at the Hawthorns, both promotion-chasing teams gifted the other side a goal.

The Baggies, who still remain atop of the Championship table, were heading towards opening up a nine-point lead but were cruelly denied at the death.

With the dust beginning to settle, here are five things we learned from this encounter…

1. Opening his account

Strong competition for places in Sheffield United’s forward line ultimately saw Callum Robinson temporarily become surplus to requirements at Bramall Lane, though manager Chris Wilder believes he’s got a future at the club. Their loss has since been West Brom’s gain, and he couldn’t have underlined this point better today.

Starting in his fourth Championship game, and second at home, the 25-year-old Irish winger rounded off a Baggies counter-attack to register his first goal under Slaven Bilic eight minutes before the half-time interval.

2. My kingdom for a second-consecutive clean sheet at home!

Forest, second best for much of the opening 45 minutes, will have nevertheless felt there was always a chance they could get back into this contest. That’s because until last time out West Brom hadn’t been able to keep a home clean sheet.

Lewis Grabban should have put the visitors in front during the opening exchanges, but he could direct his powerful header past Sam Johnstone. They eventually did get on the scoresheet courtesy of a Kyle Bartley own goal, meaning you have to go back to February 2017 – when Tony Pulis was at the helm – for the last time the Baggies kept back-to-back shutouts at the Hawthorns.

3. Topping an unwanted record

Bartley’s inadvertent conversion into the back of his net was the fourth time this season a West Brom player had scored an own goal. That is a really frustrating statistic for Bilic, but there’s nothing he could realistically do as such events are unpredictable.

The goal itself, which came on the stroke of half-time, was executed well on Forest’s behalf. Sammy Ameobi from the left flank, after a neat piece of build-up play, would send an inviting ball into no man’s land. Bartley, recognising Grabban was around, got there first and tried to clear the danger. Before he knew it, however, Sabri Lamouchi’s men were off celebrating.

However, the shoe was on the other foot when Tobias Figueiredo, just after the hour mark, tapped the ball past Brice Samba, who had been keeping Forest in the match. Ameobi was down injured as West Brom retook the lead, but the game is played to the referee’s whistle.

Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.

4. Race for ‘assist king’ hots up

Going back to West Brom’s opening goal for a second, it was another strike teed up by impressive forward Matheus Pereira, who has been arguably their most outstanding player this campaign. Presently on loan from boyhood club Sporting CP, the Brazilian winger has now registered 12 assists for the season.

He’s subsequently moved level with Bristol City forward Niclas Eliasson in the race to be crowned this season’s ‘assist king’. Both happen to be the only two Championship players to reach double figures; Jed Wallace (Millwall) and John Swift (Reading) are one shy of that milestone. For now, it seems the race for top playmaker in England’s second division will be contested between the pair.

5. Better late than never

The last time West Brom defeated Forest at home was in November 2001. Back then, Uwe Rösler (now managing Fortuna Düsseldorf) scored the winner in a narrow 1-0 victory. That wait goes on following Matty Cash’s last-minute heroics. Quite incredibly, his effort in the 91st minute was Forest’s first shot on target, another twist in what is turning out to be a fascinating scramble for Premier League promotion.

Forest are now eight points behind leaders West Brom, with both having played a game more than their rivals, and though a point won’t satisfy the hosts, automatic promotion remains in their hands. Since their debut Premier League season in 2002/03, they’d suffer relegation four times, but come back up three times (twice at the first time of asking). A fourth return looks likely, unless something incredible happens.