Opposition watch: Nottingham Forest

The low-down on this weekend's opponents from the City Ground

A fixture which has yielded 31 wins apiece for either side since the first meeting back in 1882, Wanderers’ clashes with Nottingham Forest are rarely dour affairs.

A match-up which always produces excitement - just six of the 85 games between the teams have failed to produce a goal with Forest securing a 3-0 victory at the City Ground back in August - this weekend’s fixture looks set to be a cracker at the Reebok.

With both managers having seen their sides denied a play-off berth by Leicester City on the final day of last season, Dougie Freedman and his opposite number Billy Davies will certainly not be underestimating the threat which each team pose.

The Bolton boss in particular will undoubtedly be fully aware of the challenge which his side face come kick off this weekend however, with Davies’ Reds entering the clash on the back of an impressive 5-0 victory over Premier League outfit West Ham United in their FA Cup third round clash.

Having enjoyed a solid start to their domestic campaign – one which has left them residing in fifth position in the Sky Bet Championship league standings with 40 points accumulated from 24 games – the future looks promising for Forest as they bid to make a return to the top flight after a 15 year exile.

Just four league defeats suffered so far this term and ten wins secured including four on their travels have allowed the City Ground faithful to dream of Premier League football once more – one which has been within their grasp on no less than three occasions in the past five years.

After missing out on a top six finish in such dramatic fashion alongside Wanderers last term however, Forest moved to strengthen their squad with the likes of Jamie Mackie and Kelvin Wilson agreeing deals with the club alongside the loan acquisition of highly rated Chelsea youngster Nathaniel Chalobah.

Davies’ thriftiness in the transfer market appears to have reaped dividends thus far, with the Reds looking a force to be reckoned with during the current campaign.

The form of experienced midfielder Andy Reid has undoubtedly played a crucial part in Forest’s early season success, with the former Sunderland front man currently leading the line as the club’s top goal scorer with eight strikes in all competitions.

A player who has boasted a reputation as a reliable figure in the middle of the park throughout his career, Reid has surpassed expectations this term by taking on a more attacking role within the team – one which has recently secured the club’s captain a contract extension.

Despite their impressive early season form however, Forest make the trip to BL6 having failed to emerge victorious on Bolton soil since October 1991 – a statistic that Wanderers supporters will be hoping continues come kick off on Saturday afternoon.

Paul Taylor – Nottingham Forest reporter for the Nottingham Post

“Over the Christmas period, it is safe to say that Nottingham Forest’s season has sprung back into life.

“Following a slight stutter in form, when it came to securing wins at least, Billy Davies’ side have subsequently found their consistency, culminating in a morale boosting 5-0 win over Premier League West Ham in the FA Cup.

“Yes, Sam Allardyce’s side included five under-21 players and a couple of senior figures who were making their return from injury - it was something of a makeshift Hammers team.

“But you can only beat what is put in front of you and Forest certainly did that in emphatic fashion, with Jamie Paterson’s hat-trick the catalyst for victory amid an impressive team performance.

“Forest are now unbeaten in eight games, with victories secured over two of their promotion rivals, in QPR and Leeds in recent weeks and it feels as though things are starting to fall into place.

“A new striker remains at the top of Billy Davies’ shopping list, with a habit of missing chances the only obvious possible Achilles heel in the Forest squad currently.

“That cost them at Reading when, after carving out a host of good opportunities with some quality football, they failed to capitalise and saw the home side net a 94th minute equaliser, in a 1-1 draw.

“Tying Andy Reid to a new contract in the build-up to today’s game was a significant boost for the Reds, who will be hoping the midfielder continues his good record against Bolton – having netted in all of the last three meetings between the sides.

“As for what the score is likely to be this weekend, much may depend on whether Forest again make the most of their chances, as they so emphatically did against the Hammers.

“Forest are very hard to beat under Davies and do not concede many, so perhaps an avalanche of goals is unlikely, but it would not be a shock to see them secure a narrow win over Dougie Freedman’s side.”

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