After getting back to winning ways at Stoke, Darren Moore’s team welcome Nottingham Forest to the Hawthorns on Tuesday evening still looking for their first home league win since Boxing Day.
Forest were well fancied for promotion at the beginning of the campaign, but the have hovered just above mid-table for most of the season and, after a run of just one win in seven games through December and January, manager Aitor Karanka was released from his contract.
A few days later, he was replaced by legendary Forest player, Martin O’Neill, who returned to club management having left his job as manager of the Republic of Ireland in November, and he’s brought Roy Keane with him as his assistant.
O’Neill started his reign at the City Ground with a home defeat to in form Bristol City, before beating Wigan Athletic 3-1 in his next fixture. After a 2-0 defeat to Birmingham City, Forest beat Brentford at the weekend and they are currently in 9th place five points off the play-offs. One interesting stat is that they haven’t recorded back-to-back victories since September, and Albion will be looking to ensure they need to wait a little longer to break that run.
Top goalscorer, Lewis Grabban, ended his ten game goal drought in the first half against Brentford, but then missed a second half penalty, the fourth he has missed of his last seven, but he remains Forest’s key danger man.
So far this season, Moore has generally kept faith with the same starting eleven from game to game unless forced to make a change. It will be interesting to see whether he will make any changes for this game, particularly given that Albion have four games in eleven days.
The new loan signings have given him a few more options, but he is unlikely to make more than a couple of changes given the options available. Murphy didn’t really impress at the Bet365 and he may choose to give Montero a run from the start. I expect Gareth Barry to be given a rest ahead of next weekend – I’m sure he’ll be fired up to play against his old club – with Rekeem Harper the favourite to replace him. I guess there may also be a question mark as to whether Johansen would be able to start another game so quickly given his lack of action recently, but he may be just lacking sharpness rather than fitness, and another game could do him good. I’d be surprised to see any other changes barring any late injuries.
Albion’s home record has left much to be desired in recent months, despite their overall good form. Since the beginning of December, the Baggies have won just one league game at the Hawthorns, drawing four and losing one of the other five in that time.
While Forest aren’t the easiest of oppositions, having played sides in the top four in their last two home games, this probably represents their best chance to get a home win so far in 2019.
Having said that, the Baggies played well in the games against Norwich and Middlesbrough and could have easily won both of them, and after an excellent and resilient performance at Stoke without any of the errors that marred the defeat to Middlesbrough, they should be confident of another three points.
Nottingham Forest’s spell in the third tier between 2005 and 2008 means that there have only been three meetings between the sides since the Baggies won promotion in 2004.
Before this campaign, the two clubs last found themselves in the same division in the 2009/10 season when the away team won on each occasion. Billy Davies’ Forest side won 3-1 at the Hawthorns in January 2010 thanks to goals from Dexter Blackstock, Radoslaw Majewski and Chris Cohen in what proved to be the last home league defeat for Roberto di Matteo’s team that season.
For the Baggies’ last home win over Forest, we have to go back some 18 years to 2001 when Uwe Rösler scored the only goal of the game with what was the only goal of his brief Albion career. The season before had seen a much more comfortable win for the hosts when a double from Jason Roberts and an own goal from Ben Olsen saw the Baggies run out 3-0 winners against David Platt’s team who had been reduced to ten men when Tony Vaughan had been sent off just after half time.
The two clubs first met in the FA Cup semi-final in 1892 at Molineux – the game finished 1-1 as did the replay at the same venue, but the Baggies finally prevailed in the second replay held at the County Ground in Derby with an emphatic 6-2 victory with Jasper Geddes grabbing a hat trick. Albion went on to beat Aston Villa 3-0 in the final.
The Baggies had the Indian sign over Forest at Stoney Lane losing only once and winning seven of the meetings between the sides at that venue. Albion signed off in style in April 1900 as Chippy Simmons (2), Billy Walker (3), Richard Roberts (2) and John Chadburn all on the scoresheet as the hosts ran out 8-0 winners in what is Albion’s record win over Forest.
The Reds found the Hawthorns to their immediate liking, however, and on their first visit six months after their trouncing at Stoney Lane, they handed out one of their own as Amos Adams’ goal for Albion was a mere consolation as Alf Spouncer (2), Grenville Morris (3) and Jack Calvey scored for the visitors in a 6-1 victory, their record win at the Hawthorns.
There was another example of contrasting results in successive visits to Albion for the Tricky Trees. In February 1984, Brian Clough brought one of his great Forest teams to the Hawthorns to take on Ron Wylie’s Albion and went home with the points after a sparking second half performance. Colin Walsh had given the Reds the lead with a first half penalty and an own goal from Ken McNaught put them two up just after half time. They then turned on the style and added further goals through Ian Bowyer, Gary Birtles and Viv Anderson to make the final score 0-5.
Six months later, Cloughie was back but this time it was Johnny Giles in charge at the Hawthorns and it was a very different result. It was one of the few high points of Giles’ second spell as Albion manager as goals from Steve Mackenzie and Garry Thompson gave the hosts a 2-0 half time lead. Ian Bowyer was on the scoresheet again as he made it 2-1, but Thompson proceeded to complete his hat trick as the Baggies ran out 4-1 winners.
The two clubs’ have a rich FA Cup history have played out 15 matches in that competition, although they have only been drawn together on eight occasions, with five of those ties needing more than one game to be settled.
One of those which needed just one game was the Sixth Round tie at the Hawthorns in March 1978. Brian Clough’s team would end up as League Champions that season and go on to win two European Cups, but the Baggies got the better of them that day thanks to a goal in each half, the first from Mick Martin and the second from Cyrille Regis. Albion, of course, went on to lose the semi-final to Ipswich Town, but beating that Forest team was a remarkable achievement. It was the only game that Forest lost in a remarkable run between November 1977 and December 1978, and Albion played them on three further occasions during that period which were all drawn.
Albion to build on their win at Stoke and record another victory.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
7 Aug 2018 – League Championship
Nottingham Forest 1 (Guedioura)
West Brom 1 (Phillips)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
8 Jan 2010 – League Championship
West Brom 1 (Bednar)
Nottingham Forest 3 (Blackstock, Majewski, Cohen)
15 Aug 2009 – League Championship
Nottingham Forest 0
West Brom 1 (Cohen (o.g.))
Last win at the Hawthorns
4 Nov 2001 – League Division 1
West Brom 1 (Rösler)
Nottingham Forest 0
Albion’s Record against Nottingham Forest