Burke is papering the cracks

Oliver Burke may only be Nineteen years of age, but he’s carried Nottingham Forest at times this season.

For one so young, he seems to have grown, not only in stature but in terms of mentality too. No surprise then, that he’s joint top scorer with Britt Assombalonga.

On Saturday against Wigan, his goals were the difference between the two sides in the end. Before anyone begins to scream at me, let it be said that Matty Cash was absolutely superb and has just as much of a claim to this accolade. Cash was instrumental in providing the opportunity for Burke’s second goal.

I suppose my point is this; without Oliver Burke, Philippe Montanier would be in serious trouble by now. The Forest manager is chopping and changing his team on a game by game basis, and just getting away with it. Patterns are there for all to see, no league goals away from home but we’ve plundered eight at the City Ground.

The 4-3 victory over Wigan Athletic was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride for us supporters; although it seemed more like the ghost train at times! The resurgence of Britt Assombalonga continued after just six minutes, when he pounced on a mistake and calmly slotted home with ease. However; normal services were resumed just five minutes later when Jacobs equalised for the Latics, after some tepid tackles from forest. Things got a lot worse soon after, as Assombalonga limped off with a suspected hamstring injury.

Danny Fox also left the field through injury and was replaced by Eric Lichaj; Assombalonga’s replacement was Apostolos Vellios. In all honesty, from what I’ve seen of this guy, we’d be better with Stellios (from that budget airline.)

Having finished the half level pegging, the second forty five wasn’t good for the heart, I can tell you. Forest twice took the lead but they proceeded to throw it away, courtesy of some woeful defending. Throw in a penalty miss from Vellios and you literally had end to end action, by the minute. Chris Cohen proved his worth by putting in a real captain’s performance, manifested by his sixty yard through ball for Oliver Burke’s first goal of the game. The young Scot took it superbly on his chest before clipping the ball home on the volley; absolute class from start to finish!

Pereira was beaten easily in the build up to Will Grigg’s easy header, all be it, aided by hesitancy from Henderson in the Forest goal. But Wigan were soon behind again, thanks to the brilliance of Matty Cash, who had a near perfect game. His burst from midfield and measured pass was finished with aplomb, once again by Oliver Burke.  The seeds of the NFFC academy are certainly blooming; and take it from me; there are a few more gems in the pipeline!

Wigan were gifted another equaliser, again gratefully received by Will Grigg. The Northern Irishman was far from on fire, possibly due to the damp defending on display by the reds; although he’ll never score two easier goals in a game again.

The late winner for Forest came in stoppage time, as Hildeberto Pereira skipped past three Wigan defenders to set up Thomas Lam for his second consecutive home goal. The industry of this goal will tell you everything that is wrong with our set up under Philippe Montanier.

Wrong, you say? The deciding strike was set up by and finished by two defenders; if you are doing your own job properly in the first place, then you shouldn’t have to throw yourself forward in the last minute. In fairness to Thomas Lam, he showed improvement and did take his goal very well though. (Still have my doubts)

Pereira is not a full back or a winger, so what is he? I said this from week one; don’t mess with a back four that kept us up last season.  We created numerous chances and some fantastic attacking football in this game, because we have plenty of offensive midfielders and forwards. Leave it to them, and let the defenders do the basics.

We must also take into account that both 4-3 wins have come against promoted teams, and that without Oliver Burke we could be down near the bottom of the table. It’s no wonder that a growing list of Premier League clubs are looking at this lad. Winning hides a multitude of sins but without Assombalonga and especially Oliver Burke, those wins would not be possible.

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