Forest’s fire has gone out ahead of PNE visit

Nelson Oliveira, in action against PNE's Calum Woods in November, is Forests top scorer this season
Nelson Oliveira, in action against PNE's Calum Woods in November, is Forests top scorer this season
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Nottingham Forest have gone from one extreme to the other in terms of their Championship form as they prepare to welcome Preston North End to the City Ground.

A 14-game unbeaten run in the league has given way to four successive defeats, the recent dip dropping them to 15th place in the table.

Such a contrast is one which Preston boss Simon Grayson believes sums up best what a strange beast the Championship can be.

When Forest were beaten by North End 1-0 at Deepdale in November, it formed part of an eight-game run without a win for them.

They responded in the next game by beating local rivals Derby, before losing to Brentford.

Then Forest embarked on their long unbeaten stretch, one which only ended with a defeat at home to Huddersfield last month.

Grayson said: “What has happened to Forest probably typifies the Championship, in that you can have a really good run and then suddenly hit some poor form.

“I watched their game from the weekend at Ipswich and they were the best team in the first half.

“So they will have been slightly disappointed to have come away without something.

“Forest have a strong squad, some good players and might still have an eye on the play-offs even though they are below us in the league.

“It is a big club with some fantastic history but there is a high expectation on the players as to where they should be finishing.

“We have a high respect for them but we will go there looking to pass the ball and take the game to them, while staying nice and solid.”

Forest’s leading scorer is Nelson Oliveira, a player who caught the eye in the reverse fixture at PNE.

The Portuguese striker is on loan from Benifca and has scored eight goals this season. Dexter Blackstock, who partnered Oliveira up front at Ipswich, believes Forest are moving in the right direction, despite their current run.

Said Blackstock: “Because this is Nottingham Forest there is massive expectation. People have to realise the manager has had no money to spend and has had to deal with a lot of injuries.

“It is a very difficult job, for anyone, to manage Forest at the minute given the circumstances. He is having to play more young players – lads who, with all due respect, might not have been involved this season otherwise.

“We are talking about good young players, but players who would not have been involved without the embargo being over our heads.”