As clubs above them continue to drop points (only two of ten teams above them won on Friday), another twelve points might be enough for Albion to make the top six, but it’s very difficult to make a case that this group of players are capable of winning their remaining games.
The victory over Blackpool was somewhat fortunate. It was a game of few chances and little entertainment, and only in the remaining ten minutes did Albion look like they wanted to win the game. But win it they did thereby keeping alive those very faint hopes.
Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest are the form team in the division having won six of their last eight games although even they took a stumble on Good Friday going down 1-0 at promotion rivals, Luton Town, to leave them in fifth place just four points above seventh placed Middlesbrough.
You can argue that the pressure will all be on Steve Cooper’s side on Monday evening and most of Albion’s good results in recent weeks have come against the best sides in the division. A case can certainly be made for an away win, but I would be equally unsurprised to see the hosts run out comfortable winners.
Bruce rang the changes against Blackpool making six changes from the previous game. Adam Reach and Jayson Molumby both did reasonably well but Callum Robinson was less impressive and drew the wrath of the Hawthorns crowd when he appeared to pull out of a challenge with the Blackpool ‘keeper, Chris Maxwell. Having watched it back, I’m not sure he would have got there but the reaction to it was way over the top in my opinion. It was obviously borne out of frustration, but the tendency of certain players to become scapegoats for the dissatisfaction of groups of supporters is extremely disappointing, but far too common. Robinson is the latest victim in a long line. I’ve always been of the opinion that supporters are there to support – by all means show your dissatisfaction at the end of games, but booing individuals during the game is just pointless and counterproductive, in my opinion.
Another positive from Friday was the return of Matt Phillips. I thought he did very well when he came on, and certainly offered something different. His return to fitness is timely given that he has scored on each of Albion’s last two visits to the City Ground. I would start him on Monday evening, either alongside Carroll or perhaps even at right wing back where he ended up playing on Friday. It would be a bit harsh on Furlong, but Phillips offers more from an attacking point of view and has the discipline to do a job defensively.
Albion generally looked better after Bruce made his substitutions on Friday, so it will be interesting to see whether he goes with the eleven that finished that match. Unfortunately, he cannot rely on his players to repeat the same level of performance from one match to the next, so he will be taking a punt with whatever line up he chooses.
It is a match that should be a comfortable win for the hosts given recent form, but such is Albion’s inconsistency, any result is possible. If the Baggies can record successive victories for the first time since December, there may be a little hope yet remaining.
Nottingham Forest are one of handful of teams that have played in the Premier League that Albion have not met in that particular division. The Tricky Trees were last relegated from the top flight in 1999 and dropped down to the third tier for three seasons in the mid-noughties but have played in the Championship since 2008. The last time that the two clubs met in the top flight was at the Hawthorns in April 1986 when Johnny Metgod’s opener for the visitors was cancelled out by an equaliser from Martyn Bennett. The Baggies relegation would be confirmed the following weekend.
Albion haven’t lost a league match at the City Ground since 2000. Their last visit was on the opening weekend of the 2019/20 season when goals from Kyle Edwards and Matt Phillips earned Slaven Bilić’s side all three points. A year earlier, Matt Phillips was on the mark again as he scored a late equaliser to earn Albion’s first point of the season.
The previous meeting on the banks of the Trent was also early in the season, albeit nine years earlier. In 2009, it was again the Baggies’ first away game of the season and produced their first league victory as a second half own goal from Chris Cohen was enough to secure the points for Roberto di Matteo’s side.
In November 2003, Jason Koumas produced a match-winning performance scoring twice in a 3-0 victory, the other goal being an own goal from Matthieu Louis-Jean, while the previous visit was a crucial victory for Megson’s team in the run-in to the 2001/02 campaign when Bob Taylor followed up Neil Clement’s free kick to score the only goal of the game.
Forest’s only home victory over Albion this century came in the FA Cup Third Round in January 2004 when a Marlon King penalty was enough to see the hosts through to round four.
The Baggies have had a number of big wins at the City Ground – 5-1 in the FA Cup in 1958, 4-1 in Division Two in 1974 and 4-0 in Division One in 1923. Their biggest win, however, came in a Division Two fixture in November 1930. Stan Wood and W.G. Richardson both scored twice while Joe Carter and Teddy Sandford also found the net in a 6-1 victory.
Forest’s biggest win over Albion is also 6-1, first achieved in Division One in October 1899, and then again in the League Cup in 1982. It was the first leg of a second round tie and Albion actually took the lead through Cyrille Regis in the fourth minute, but the hosts responded with goals from Ian Wallace (2), John Robertson (2 penalties), Steve Hodge and Gary Birtles. Albion won the second leg 3-1 but lost 4-7 on aggregate.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
26 Nov 2021 – League Championship
West Brom 0
Nottingham Forest 0
Last meeting at Nottingham Forest
3 Aug 2019 – League Championship
Nottingham Forest 1 (Cash)
West Brom 2 (Edwards, Phillips)
Albion’s Record against Nottingham Forest
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