Nottingham Forest 3 Barnsley 0: Sorry Barnsley look to be marking time ahead of drop into League 1
Nottingham Forest won 3-0 at the City Ground last night, though it could easily have been more if they had come off the gas for the first 25 minutes of the second half.
When Barnsley showed some overdue spirit after an embarrassingly one-sided first half, it only underscored the fact they are not very good. The January league tables fib a bit with the games played column so higgeldy-piggeldy but sadly Barnsley are definitely where they deserve to be, bottom of the Championship.
If the board really is unwilling or unable to strengthen this squad in January - no signings yet in 25 days of business - there is little hope for a demoralised group of players who have fallen from such a height since so many played in last season’s play-offs.
The writing was quickly on the wall, Romal Palmer and Mads Andersen booked for fouling Brennan Johnson inside 11 minutes.
Absolutely nobody was surprised when Forest went ahead after 15 minutes, Keinan Davis catching Andersen in possession, running through and slipping the ball past Brad Collins.
From that point on, it felt like a question of how many.
James Garner dragged a shot wide after Forest’s left-winger Lewis Grabban made a good run down the inside-right channel. Johnson was unable to keep his shot down when the ball bounced in front of him at a corner the Reds failed to deal with, then saw Collins cut out a cross-shot with his feet. Jordan Williams smothered a Phillip Zinckernagel shot.
After 39 minutes Forest worked the ball with ease on their left, Jack Colback playing in Johnson for a cross Ryan Yates - who shot wide from the edge of the area and forced Collins to tip over a header in the previous five minutes - slid onto score.
All Barnsley offered was a Callum Styles shot Scott McKenna cleared off the line after Palmer won the ball well and played in Devante Cole to pull a cross back.
Barnsley had a bench with one Championship start, belonging to Will Hondermarck, between six outfielders and no manager thanks to the sore throat that kept Poya Asbaghi at home.
Whoever said what and how at the interval, Barnsley at least showed some second-half fight but it only met with derision.
Cole did well to get to the byline but the cross he floated into Brice Samba’s arms was met with jeers, as was a ballooned Styles free-kick. The shot Claudio Gomes bobbled at the goalkeeper from a very long way out met with sarcastic “oooh”s. The wind-up to Jasper Moon’s long throws got similar treatment to goalkeepers taking goalkicks. Not all the derision came from the home fans. “We’ve got the ball!” sang some away supporters but the levity did not last. “We want Conway out!” got its now regular airing.
Forest’s sloppiness ended when Max Lowe came off the bench, not so much for what the Sheffield United loanee did but because it moved Grabban into the middle. He had three chances in five minutes before Djed Spence, whose Forest performances highlight what a good season Isaiah Jones is having at Middlesbrough for him still to be on loan, powered down the right and laid the ball on for Johnson to score.
Forest did the decent thing and quickly withdrew Grabban, then Johnson. Barnsley put on David Bremang and league debutants Matty Wolfe and Remy Vita.
It took the post to deny Grabban’s sub Xande Silva, and a Collins save to stop Yates scoring again. Silva’s miss when Garner laid a sitter on was shocking but if you are going to miss like that, at least do it when 3-0 up.
It had been an easy night for Steve Cooper’s men. Worryingly so for Barnsley.
Nottingham Forest: Samba; Spence, McKenna, S Cook, Colback; Yates, Garner; Grabban (Silva 78), Zinckernagel, Johnson (Konate 81); Davis (Lowe 69). Unused substitutes: Horvath, Figueiredo, Carvalho, Cafu.
Barnsley: Collins; Moon (Vita 88), Helik, Andersen, J Williams ; Gomes, Palmer (Wolfe 81); Styles, Adeboyejo, Iseka (Bremang 81); Cole. Unused substitutes: Walton, Hondermarck, Sraha, Thompson.
Referee: M Salisbury (Lancashire).