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Nottingham Forest v Reading: Match Preview

Phil Owtram assesses the match at the City Ground as the Royals prepare to take on Nottingham Forest in the Championship on Saturday afternoon.

Laurence Griffiths

Nottingham Forest v Reading
The City Ground
Saturday 23rd August 2014, KO 3PM
Referee: Andy Woolmer

Form: DWWL
They say all good things come to an end, and they did for Reading against Huddersfield on Tuesday night. It was a tough night for the Royals where mistakes in defence cost them their unbeaten start to the season as they suffered a 2-1 home defeat to the Terriers. It was an all too familiar post-match feeling as Reading were brought back down to earth with a bang after enjoying a promising start to the campaign. The Biscuitmen must now travel to the City Ground and hope that ex-Forest boy Simon Cox  and the rest of the team are in the mood and can put things back on track before doom and gloom returns to the Madejski Stadium.  Reading will be boosted by the addition of Oliver Norwood who became Nigel Adkins’ fourth summer signing when he transferred from Tuesday’s opponents Huddersfield this week. The one-time Manchester United youngster will add much needed quality and composure to a central midfield decimated by injury and Reading fans will wait with bated breath to see how he performs. Aaron Kuhl had a terrific 45-minutes against Huddersfield and is another exciting option in the centre of the pitch.

Nottingham Forest
Form: WWDW
Table toppers Nottingham Forest are enjoying life so far under new manager Stuart Pearce, the former Forest player has bolstered his squad with a number of additions that have shown good form in the early part of the season. One such player is former Royal Michail Antonio; the winger has bagged 2 goals in 4 games for his new club and is no stranger to scoring against his former side after netting for Sheffield Wednesday in their 5-2 defeat of the Berkshire side last season.  Another man that played well that day is Matty Fryatt who scored a brace and will line up against the Royals on Saturday after switching Sheffield for Nottingham this summer. Big money summer signing Britt Assombalonga who transferred from Peterborough for a reported £5.5 million will be an obvious danger for the Royals defence. The Zaire-born striker has scored an impressive 3 goals in 3 Championship games this season, making him the league’s top scorer. The club have also signed Chris Burke from Birmingham and this is proving to be a shrewd acquisition with the right-winger scoring in their opening game against Blackpool and assisting Antonio for the goal which won their Capital One cup match against Tranmere. Away from attacking players, Pearce has also signed Michael Mancienne from Hamburg and he has started well for his new club, winning the man of the match award for his performance on the opening day against Blackpool and he is likely to be partnered by Reading target Jack Hobbs in the centre of defence.

Head to Head
Total meetings (32):
Nottingham Forest wins: 13 (41%)
Draws: 8 (25%)
Reading wins: 11 (34%)
Games at the City Ground (16):
Nottingham Forest wins: 8 (50%)
Draws: 3 (19%)
Reading wins: 5 (31%)

Forest just about lead the head to head record but the most recent meeting yielded a 1-1 draw at the Madejski Stadium on New Year’s Day. Stephen Kelly rescued a point for the Royals that day with a 95th minute equalizer cancelling out a Greg Halford opener. Last season’s corresponding fixture at The City Ground saw Reading run out 3-2 winners in a game in which Forest came back from two-nil down only for Jordan Obita to score a third for the visitors and steal a win for the Royals. Simon Cox scored in that match and he will be hoping he can be on the score sheet for the opposite side this time around as he makes his first appearance against his former club.
In total, matches between these two teams have yielded 109 goals with an average of 3.4 goals a game and there have only ever been two 0-0 draws one in the 08/09 season and another in the 09/10 season. The highest scoring game came in the 1927/28 season and saw Forest emerge victorious winning 5-3 at The City Ground. So we can expect goals but let’s just hope they’re all at the Forest end!

Team News
Nottingham Forest:  Forest were given an injury boost as long-term absentees Jamaal Lascelles, Kevin Wilson, Henri Lansbury and David Vaughan all took part in a friendly match on Thursday with recent signing Robert Tesche also making an appearance. Dexter Blackstock is still sidelined with a knee injury but otherwise the side will be similar to that which lined up against Bournemouth on Tuesday night.

Likely lineup: Darlow, Fox, Mancienne, Hobbs, Hunt, Burke, Cohen, Reid, Antonio, Assombalonga, Fryatt.

Reading: Jamie Mackie played 26 minutes against Huddersfield however will be unavailable for the game against his parent club as part of the terms of his season-long loan. However, Simon Cox will be available to face his former teammates. Oliver Norwood could make his debut for the Royals as he was registered before the 12pm deadline on Friday. McCleary, Williams, Karacan, Kelly and Guthrie are all remain on the sidelines and we expect the manager to name another youthful squad.

Likely lineup: Federici, Obita, Hector, Pearce, Gunter, Taylor, Norwood, Akpan, Blackman, Cox, Pogrebnyak.

What lineup do you think Nigel Adkins should start with? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.