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Preview: Nott'm Forest vs Birmingham

Sports Mole preview Saturday's Championship game between Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City including predictions, team news and possible (Author: Gardener)

Nott'm ForestNottingham Forest host Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon and will be hoping for a win that will bolster their place in the Championship play-offs. While Forest could potentially move up to third this weekend, the Blues are looking to get closer to the 50-point mark after effectively securing their Tier Two status for another year. Forest head coach Steve Cooper, still just two points off the top six, would almost certainly accept a playoff berth if offered to him and his team now. With eight points behind second-placed Bournemouth and eight games to go and the two teams yet to meet, there is still scope for Forest to remain in the automatic promotion hunt. A nine-game unbeaten run in the Championship has seen six wins and three draws, the most recent success came on Wednesday when Forest beat Coventry City 2-0. Brennan Johnson continued his hot streak in this game as the Wales international has now added four goals and an assist in his last three league games. Still, the Blues have never really been in danger of relegation and accumulating eight points from five games has ensured they will take on the same company next season. They have also conceded three goals in four games, the latest of those shutouts coming in last weekend's 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. Lyle Taylor scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot and has scored four goals from nine starts since arriving in January. However, with the striker on loan from Forest and unable to play this weekend, Birmingham will need to find another solution in front of goal after ending a 414-minute wait to be included in the scorers' chart. James Garner could face a break after playing three 90-minute games since March 29, a run that includes an appearance for England Under-21s. Taylor Richards and Lukas Jutkiewicz are both pushing recalls to the Birmingham starting line-up in Taylor's absence. While the Blues will be very confident after their recent form, a trip to the City Ground is currently the toughest test at this level. With that in mind, we expect another professional display from Forest, who can score a goal in each half to give his opponents relatively easy work.

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Questions asked at a key win as Nottingham Forest rides a wave of momentum

The Reds are fifth in the table as goals from Brennan Johnson and James Garner beat Coventry City 2-0 (Author: Gardener)

Nottingham ForestNottingham Forest goalscorers Brennan Johnson and James Garner after defeating Coventry City. It can take you far, momentum. In the case of Nottingham Forest up to fifth place. It would take a brave person to bet against them to keep up that run and put more pressure on their rivals. The Reds are on the road to success. Read more: Reds v Coventry review Read more: Relive the action on the town square But now that Forest are in the top six, the focus must be on staying there. Collect results one way or another, just like they did against Coventry City, and then see what happens. Forest weren't at their best against the Sky Blues. But they found a way to win. In the end also quite comfortable, even if the guests made it difficult for them. Cooper afterwards insisted that being in the top six doesn't count at the moment. The decisive factor is whether you are there after the last game of the season. Of course he's right. But there's no question that entering the play-off spots will only add to the excitement and sense of optimism surrounding the City Ground. And now they're here, the goal is to build on that platform over the last eight games. But the Reds have now gotten the bit between their teeth. It was an important game on Wednesday, the first of a double-header home game. Coventry are not cups. When Steve Cook and then Scott McKenna were injured, there were concerns among some fans that the Portuguese could make the squad. However, he has been excellent in the last four games. And on Wednesday night he was great. The guests had phases of possession, especially in the first half, which caused problems for Forest. However, they were limited to very few chances - and Figueiredo played no small part in that, being right in the middle of defence. The saves that Brice Samba had to make were pretty comfortable. Cooper makes a point of generally staying on a sedentary side. So the question becomes, will Cook go straight back into the starting XI once he's available again? Scoring is important to increase the goal difference. But don't underestimate the importance of conceding goals. Bruno Fernandes, no less, last week picked James Garner as the Manchester United academy player he's really looking forward to. Garner has been getting better and better this season. He shows so many different elements in his game and can dominate in the middle of the field. Along with Figueiredo, Keinan Davis and the ever-consistent Scott McKenna, he really stood out against the Sky Blues. He also scored a fabulous goal. Davis was immense under construction. The striker had been kicking lumps out of him all night as it appeared to be Coventry's only way of stopping him. It takes more than that, however, and he used his strength and skill to knock Garner off. The Reds needed it too. Brennan Johnson had put them ahead in the first half but with their opponents not going away, a second really killed the game. Squads can fully develop during this phase of a campaign. Forest has a lot of power in itself. Just like at the Blackpool weekend, Cooper made the double substitutions of Sam Surridge and Lewis Grabban and didn't let up on the tired guests. That's got to be a nightmare for any defender to see these two coming together after already running ragged by Davis. Both Grabban (if/when he's ready) and Surridge could easily slip into the starting XI as well. Not that leaving Davis out would be easy — he's that influential in games. Likewise, Joe again pushed Lolley to get back in the lineup. The goalkeeper dilemma seems solved, Samba keeps its place. But the fact that Ethan Horvath is struggling to get back on the bench shows the Reds are strong in that department too.

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Steve Cooper makes a critical admission from Nottingham Forest after Coventry win

Nottingham Forest were victorious again in Championship action - but head coach Steve Cooper wasn't entirely impressed with his side's 2-0 win over Coventry City on Wednesday night. Fresh from a 4-1 defeat by Blackpool on Saturday afternoon, the Reds were aiming for a fourth win on the rotation in the […] (Author: Gardener)

Steve CooperNottingham Forest were victorious again in Championship action - but head coach Steve Cooper wasn't entirely impressed with his side's 2-0 win over Coventry City on Wednesday night. After a 4-1 defeat by Blackpool on Saturday afternoon, the Reds were on their way to a fourth win in the league when the Sky Blues were promoted to Trentside. Goals either side of half-time from Brennan Johnson - his 15th in all competitions this season - and Manchester United loanee James Garner sent the Tricky Trees leaping into the play-off spots, overtaking Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and Sheffield United in the process fifth digit. It wasn't Forest's perfect display though, although they could have scored more than with Ryan Yates hitting the crossbar in the second half, with Coventry creating their own chances by scoring five shots on Brice Samba's goal. Cooper, in particular, criticized his team's ability to keep possession despite his satisfaction with the win, insisting there are still things the team needs to learn before the season is over. "They test you," Cooper said of Mark Robins' side, per NottinghamshireLive. "But we turned the ball too much in the first half and didn't pass enough. When we did that, we got into good positions. Great moves with Keinan (Davis) playing into Jack (Colback) and Jack flashing the ball to Brennan's goal. “And then I said all these things to the players at half-time. I felt we did quite a bit better in the second half and created enough good moments to score the second goal. “But it was an important win. There were some really, really good parts, but also some parts that we need to address.” Although Forest have been better than probably most championship teams for a number of months, it speaks volumes that Cooper is still not 100 percent satisfied with their performances . They've also blown away Premier League teams during this period, but he still believes they can be better - which is a scary claim. With the games they have, Forest should be a sure bet for the playoffs unless their form falls off a cliff - that doesn't look likely though. They're a force to be reckoned with up front, and one fears for any team that faces them through the end of the season -- and inevitably in the playoffs, too.

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Live Text Updates: Nottingham Forest 2-0 Coventry City

Live Text Updates: Nottingham Forest 2-0 Coventry City (Author: Gardener)

Nottingham ForestViktor Gyokeres - Coventry City - Right footed shot from the right side of the box, missing to the left. Callum O'Hare - Coventry City - Right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the center of the goal by the goalkeeper. Philip Zinkernagel (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assist - Jack Colback with a cross. Callum O'Hare (Coventry City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assist – Todd Kane. Callum O'Hare (Coventry City) - right footed shot from outside the box goes up. Brennan Johnson - Nottingham Forest - Left footed shot from a few yards into the right corner. Jamie Allen (Coventry City) - right footed shot from the center of the box is saved to the right. Submission - Viktor Gyokeres. Submission - Viktor Gyokeres. Tobias Figueiredo - Nottingham Forest - headshot from the center of the box misses on the left. Philip Zinckernagel - Nottingham Forest - right footed shot from long range is saved by the goalkeeper in the center of the goal. Philip Zinkernagel (Nottingham Forest) - right footed shot from the center of the box, but the shot is blocked. Gustavo Hamer - Coventry City - right footed shot from long range goes up. Preparatory work – Jamie Allen. Philip Zinkernagel - Nottingham Forest - Shot with a right shot from the center of the box goes up. Assist – Brennan Johnson with a cross. Keinan Davis - Nottingham Forest - Right footed shot from the center of the box but high to the right and wide. Submission – Scott McKenna. Viktor Gyokeres (Coventry City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Ben Sheaf - Coventry City - right footed shot from long range is saved at the top center of the goal. Viktor Gyokeres (Coventry City) left footed shot from the left side of the box, high and wide to the left. Assist - Callum O'Hare. Assist - Callum O'Hare. Assist - Callum O'Hare. Ryan Yates - Nottingham Forest - right footed shot from long range, missing on the left. Goal! 2 Nottingham Forest 0 Coventry City. 2 Nottingham Forest 0 Coventry City. James Garner - Nottingham Forest - Left footed shot from the center of the box to the top left corner. Assist - Keinan Davis. Assist - Keinan Davis. Callum O'Hare (Coventry City) - right footed shot from the center of the box is saved to the right. Assist - Gustavo Hamer with a through ball. Lewis Grabban - Nottingham Forest - right footed shot from the left side of the box, but just wide. Assist – Joe Lolley with a through ball. James Garner (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assist—Joe Lolley. James Garner - Nottingham Forest - right footed shot from long range, missing on the left. Preparatory work – Djed Spence. Preparatory work – Djed Spence. Sam Surridge - Nottingham Forest - Head shot from the center of the box goes up. Assist – James Garner with a cross from the corner. Assist – James Garner with a cross from the corner. Jake Bidwell (Coventry City) - left footed shot from long range, misses very close from a free-kick. Viktor Gyokeres (Coventry City) - right footed shot from long range is saved in the right corner. Assist – Jake Bidwell. shot blocked. shot blocked. shot blocked. shot blocked. shot blocked. shot blocked. Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) - left footed shot from the left side of the box, his shot is blocked. Assist – Sam Surridge. Joe Lolley - Nottingham Forest - Left footed shot from long range goes up and wide to the left. Assist – James Garner. Assist – James Garner.

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Andy Turner's analysis of Coventry City after Nottingham Forest defeat

The Sky Blues slipped to a 2-0 loss at the City Ground to a free-flowing Nottingham Forest side believed to be favorites for play-off success (Author: Gardener)

Nottingham ForestFanky test, baptism of fire and more of the same - Analysis of Coventry City after Nottingham Forest defeat The Sky Blues slipped to a 2-0 loss at the City Ground to a free-flowing Nottingham Forest side who were considered favorites for the play- off-success applies Sky Blues delivers the latest team news, game updates and analysis straight to your inboxSomething went wrong, please try again later. Thanks for subscribing!We have more newslettersShow meCoventry City put up a fight but ended up leaving the City Ground with more 'if only' questions after failing to take their chances against flying Nottingham Forest . The Sky Blues played decent football in an entertaining game in which they made 13 attempts on Brice Samba's goal, five of which were on target. After Viktor Gyokeres missed a brilliant opening chance in the fifth minute, Mark Robins' men were punished 20 minutes later when Brennan Johnson took full advantage of a shot on target. City had more chances, a couple of decent ones also from the boots of Callum O'Hare and Jamie Allen, before James Garner smashed Forest's second at home just after the hour mark to secure the full three points. Dreaming but plenty to play If we're being honest we all knew it was going to be a tall order for the Sky Blues to reach the play-offs after beating Sheffield United last month's thrilling 4-1 lost too many points. City's final finish was difficult enough on paper, given the quality of their opponents and five of the last eight being sidelined from home after the international break. The team now appear too far from the top six, now eight points behind the Blades in the last available spot after falling to 12th after last night's 2-0 defeat in Forest. No shame but same old story As disappointing as it was to lose to Forest, there's no shame in being on the wrong end of a side who are absolutely flying at the moment and see in every way the team that has the quality and momentum has to not just make the playoffs comfortably but have the wherewithal to advance to the finals and win promotion. Credit to the Sky Blues, they gave Steve Cooper's side a game at the City Ground where the nearly sold-out crowd became frustrated and turned around just before Brennan Johnson gave his side the lead against the run of play. Not taking chances when they get them has been a feature of many games this season and that, in short, is the difference in quality between the two sides. Ahead of Wednesday night's game against Forest, it was pretty obvious that Mark Robins needed to come up with a plan to deal with the dual threats of Djed Spence and Brennan Johnson, who have been in impressive form at right flank this season. Interestingly, Sky Blues manager ditched Ian Maatsen and entrusted right-back Fankaty Dabo with the job. Explaining his decision, Robins said: "Everyone's talking about Spence being a player worth around £20m now and Johnson being a player worth £20m and the person who's likely to handle that is likely the best in our squad Fanky because of his experience. And he was brilliant when it came to not having possession and he was really good at possession so he showed a really good game and you know he's capable of that. Ryan Howley became the youngest graduate of Coventry City Academy, making his league debut in Wednesday night's 2-0 defeat at Forest. The Nuneaton-born midfielder only turned 18 in November but has been training with the first-team and an unused substitute in Mark Robins' senior squad for several weeks. The manager clearly thinks highly of the youngster, admitting "I've wanted to give Ryan Howley a little taste for a while" but concedes it was ultimately a bit of a baptism of fire for the player who played Gustavo Hamer for the last five minutes of regular time and seven minutes due to stoppages at the City Ground. "It was just a little bit difficult for him in his first taste but at least he has that now and he can see what playing against a good team is about." But hopefully it's the first step for the young talent in a time when City's participation in the Championship means it's becoming increasingly difficult for homegrown players to assert themselves.

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Steve Cooper hints at what will complicate Nottingham Forest against Birmingham

Steve Cooper has suggested Birmingham City's "week off" between games will add to the challenge for Nottingham Forest on Saturday. The Reds beat Coventry City 2-0 at The City Ground last night and are back in action against Birmingham in Trentside on Saturday afternoon. Cooper's side moved back into the top 6 after yesterday's win […] (Author: Gardener)

Steve CooperSteve Cooper has suggested Birmingham City's "week off" between games will add to the challenge for Nottingham Forest on Saturday. The Reds beat Coventry City 2-0 at The City Ground last night and are back in action against Birmingham in Trentside on Saturday afternoon. Forest are the best team going into this game - having won five of the last six in all competitions - but the Welsh manager believes Birmingham's extra rest will complicate things for his side. After the game, he told club media: "We now have just two days before we return here on Saturday. Birmingham had a week off so they will be ready to go here and with fresh legs. That will increase the challenge. You need to recover well, make small sacrifices over the next few days and be ready to go again on Saturday.” A Lyle Taylor penalty helped Birmingham beat local rivals West Brom at St Andrew's last weekend, but Lee Bowyer's side will be without the striker for Saturday's game as he is on loan from Forest. With Forest having to make up games before the end of the season, the next few weeks will be a testing time for Cooper's squad and her fitness in particular. The Reds boss has fielded an unchanged starting XI in his last two games but despite winning both it would be a surprise if he does the same for the third game in seven days. Birmingham will certainly be fresher, but if Forest can match the heights they've reached in recent weeks they should have enough to go away with all three points and maintain their momentum.

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Forest successfully move up to fifth ahead of Coventry

Nottingham Forest climb to fifth in the Championship with a win over Coventry, whose own play-off hopes are almost over. (Author: Gardener)

up to fifthNottingham Forest kept their play-off bid on track by beating Coventry City. A third win in a row puts Forest fifth in the table with eight games to go and Steve Cooper's side have two games under their belt against most of their rivals. The defeat for Sky Blues, who drop to 12th place, almost ends their hopes of promotion as they are now eight points adrift of the play-offs with six games to go. However, Coventry more than lived up to their opponents and Callum O'Hare had a chance to put them back in play with 15 minutes to go but he failed to beat Brice Samba when he was played through by Gustavo Hamer. O'Hare saw another chance at 1-0 through Viktor Gyokeres, but the Swede shot wide. The defeat means the Sky Blues have just six points from their last eight games. Forest's form has been stark contrast and they enter the final month of the season having not lost in the league since late January. Both goals were cleverly constructed, first when Jack Colback crossed from the left in the 25th minute and Johnson deftly finished, deflecting the ball around the keeper and the post. Keinan Davis jumped into the void in the 61st minute and slotted a ball into the area for Garner to hit home with his left foot. The game was briefly stopped due to an ailing home fan, but Forest didn't falter as Ryan Yates hit the bar in added time. "It was a tough game and a great result." "We turned the ball too much in the first half and that cost us a lot of fluids. "I thought we played really well, but we just didn't have the finishing touches, which we've said many times. “Forest are a really good team. "The atmosphere was great, it was a fun game for all the right reasons, apart from the fact that we obviously didn't take our chances."

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Forest successfully move up to fifth ahead of Coventry

Nottingham Forest climb to fifth in the Championship with a win over Coventry, whose own play-off hopes are almost over. (Author: Gardener)

up to fifthNottingham Forest kept their play-off bid on track by beating Coventry City. A third win in a row puts Forest fifth in the table with eight games to go and Steve Cooper's side have two games under their belt against most of their rivals. The defeat for Sky Blues, who drop to 12th place, almost ends their hopes of promotion as they are now eight points adrift of the play-offs with six games to go. However, Coventry more than lived up to their opponents and Callum O'Hare had a chance to put them back in play with 15 minutes to go but he failed to beat Brice Samba when he was played through by Gustavo Hamer. O'Hare saw another chance at 1-0 through Viktor Gyokeres, but the Swede shot wide. The defeat means the Sky Blues have just six points from their last eight games. Forest's form has been stark contrast and they enter the final month of the season having not lost in the league since late January. Both goals were cleverly constructed, first when Jack Colback crossed from the left in the 25th minute and Johnson deftly finished, deflecting the ball around the keeper and the post. Keinan Davis jumped into the void in the 61st minute and slotted a ball into the area for Garner to hit home with his left foot. The game was briefly stopped due to an ailing home fan, but Forest didn't falter as Ryan Yates hit the bar in added time. "It was a tough game and a great result." "We turned the ball too much in the first half and that cost us a lot of fluids. "I thought we played really well, but we just didn't have the finishing touches, which we've said many times. “Forest are a really good team. "The atmosphere was great, it was a fun game for all the right reasons, apart from the fact that we obviously didn't take our chances."

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Nottingham Forest seal a 2-0 win over Coventry in the Championship

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 2-0 COVENTRY: Forest's native talent builds his reputation every time he steps on the pitch and now he's added goals to his repertoire. (Author: Gardener)

Nottingham ForestForest's native talent improves his reputation every time he steps onto the field and now he's added points to his repertoire. Manager Steve Cooper is adept at the art of nurturing promising youngsters, and it's not just Johnson who's benefiting from that. Nottingham Forest secured a 2-0 win over Coventry in the Championship on Wednesday. Homegrown talent Brennan Johnson (No. 20) opened the scoring for the home side. Johnson's opener last night won't win awards for his looks, but he was still in the right place at the right time. A match full of lovely patterns early on - mostly from Coventry - was brought to life thanks to a three-way combination by Keinan Davis, Jack Colback and Johnson. Davis found Colback, whose cross was brought in by Johnson from close range, although it took him a second try before it crossed the line. Forest started the night eighth, but their play-off push has gathered impressive momentum in recent weeks. Not only does Cooper's team have games in hand, but they've built up a plus-21 goal difference that's vastly superior to their rivals and almost worth another point. Add 11 goals in their last three games to the mix and a packed City Ground gathered in excited anticipation last night. Coventry are without a win in three games since beating Sheffield United and face a tough clash including a trip to Fulham and a home game against Bournemouth. They certainly didn't look like a side with such a run and kept home goalkeeper Brice Samba busy. Even after the goal, they looked for the break at every opportunity. Manchester United loanee James Garner (left) doubled the lead for Steve Cooper's side. Getting back to the action, Forest showed no signs of closing up shop, getting Joe Lolley, and looking for a second killer. Then the impressive Davis shook off his marker, put up Garner and his finish was explosive. Davis had rejected a few criminal charges and left the field to a standing ovation. The forward, on loan from Aston Villa, has given the team more presence and is a master at bringing team-mates into play.

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Steve Cooper's side tighten their grip on the play-off spot

Report and free match highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash between Nottingham Forest and Coventry at the City Ground as goals from Brennan Johnson and James Garner sealed victory for Steve Cooper's side. (Author: Gardener)

Steve Cooper'sNottingham Forest clinched their fourth consecutive Sky Bet Championship win and climbed into the play-off places with a 2-0 win over Coventry at the City Ground. Steve Cooper's side had to work hard to win, but Brennan Johnson's 15th goal of the season and a well-taken effort from James Garner on either side of half-time put them on course to a valuable three points. Coventry made it an evenly contested competition and Mark Robins will feel his side deserved more as their own top-six ambitions took a hit after a fourth game without a win. Forest got off to a better start but it was Victor Gyokeres who had the first sight in sight and fired wide after Coventry's first meaningful attack. When the space opened up in front of Forest's full-back Djed Spence, he stormed into the penalty area, but his attempted back pass to Philip Zinckernagel failed. Callum O'Hare tested Forest keeper Brice Samba with a well-held low shot while Coventry continued to pose a threat at the break. Forest took the lead in the 24th minute after Keinan Davis found Jack Colback on the left. His cross was fired right over goal and just as Coventry looked like they were going to parry it at the far post, Johnson pulled the ball back and lobbed it high into the back net from close range. Goalkeeper Simon Moore needed two tries to save a shot from Zinckernagel while Forest tried to extend his lead. Zinckernagel then attempted a spectacular volley that always went wide before Davis brilliantly passed two Coventry defenders on a 20-yard rush, only to miss the target with a shot by a wide margin. Samba had to make a powerful save to ward off a long-range shot from Ben Sheaf as Coventry looked for an equaliser. Yates shot wide as Forest pushed forward again - and the second goal was not long in coming. Another brilliant work from Davis saw him put the ball down the run of the enraged Garner, who scored an emphatic finish past Moore to make it 2-0 in the 61st minute. Forest wanted a penalty when Fankaty appeared to obstruct Dabo Davis in the box but referee Tim Robinson was unconvinced. Sub Lewis Grabban hit wide as Forest tried to secure the win. Nottingham Forest's Steve Cooper: “It was a really important win, that's the headline for me. The way they set themselves up is really testing. I know Coventry are rivals but I have a lot of respect for the way they play and the way they have maintained that over the years. But we turned the ball too much in the first half, we didn't make enough passes and took too many touches, so we never got fluid. If we managed, the goals were excellent.” Brennan put in an excellent performance in a manic moment and showed great composure on the first goal. I thought we were better in the second half and created enough good moments to score the second goal. We got through a challenging match fairly comfortably. It was an important win with some really good points - and some things we need to address. Coventry's Mark Robins: “I don't think we were unlucky, we didn't take our chances when we needed them. When you're playing against a top team, they keep going. We're a really good team but you look at it and think: "He took off Keinan Davis and Brennan Johnson - a £20m forward - and brought in Sam Surridge and Lewis Grabban. We have really good quality , but what we don't have is the quality of being ruthless." currently. Forest has that. They can be ruthless because they have that extra bit of quality. That's the difference between the two teams at the moment."

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