In a thrilling and controversial encounter, Nottingham Forest managed to hold Brentford to a 1-1 draw, leaving both managers, Steve Cooper and Thomas Frank, dissatisfied with the match officials’ decisions.
The game’s intensity escalated in the 9th minute when Moussa Niakhaté received his second yellow card for a reckless challenge on Yoane Wissa, reducing Forest to 10 men. This incident set the stage for a dramatic clash that saw Christian Nørgaard and Nico Domínguez exchange headed goals, ultimately resulting in a fair draw.
However, controversy loomed large over the match. Wissa was involved in a contentious moment when he was brought down in the box after dispossessing goalkeeper Matt Turner, but no penalty was awarded on the field or by the video referees. Additionally, there were two potential handball incidents by Forest in the first half, both of which were waved away by the officials. Frank, Brentford’s manager, expressed frustration, saying, “I am tired of talking about it [VAR].“
For the initial 52 minutes, the game appeared to be a lackluster affair, with neither team making significant headway. It wasn’t until injury time in the first half that either goalkeeper was truly tested, and this came amid a persistent downpour.
Niakhaté’s two bookings, particularly the second one for the challenge on Wissa, stirred controversy. While Cooper defended the decision, arguing that the second yellow was unwarranted, he acknowledged that football understanding was necessary to appreciate the accidental nature of the challenge.
Down to 10 men and trailing in the game, Forest had to quickly reorganize their defense through substitutions, introducing Harry Toffolo for his first Premier League appearance of the season. Surprisingly, Toffolo contributed by providing an accurate cross, allowing Domínguez to score with a looping header that left Brentford’s goalkeeper Mark Flekken with questions about his positioning.
Despite being a player short for nearly half the game, Forest displayed determination and ended the match with two strikers on the field in a bid to snatch a win. However, neither Chris Wood nor Divock Origi could secure victory. Instead, it was 21-year-old debutant Murillo who shone, making a crucial save to deny Michael Olakigbe’s added-time shot that had beaten the goalkeeper but not Murillo, who impressed in his first outing for Forest.
In the early stages of the match, Forest enjoyed the upper hand, with Ibrahim Sangaré particularly catching the eye in midfield. His composure, skill, and physical presence were evident as he controlled the midfield alongside Domínguez and Orel Mangala. This effective trio justified the manager’s decision to exclude Morgan Gibbs-White.
Although Taiwo Awoniyi had a goal disallowed for offside, the first half’s only noteworthy action was Niakhaté’s booking. Thankfully, the second half brought excitement to the spectators.
Both Forest and Brentford will take away positives from the match. Forest will be pleased with their new signings’ quick adaptation to the team, while Brentford, although extending their winless streak to five Premier League matches, can at least celebrate ending their run of defeats.