As the Greek tragedy that is Nottingham Forest continues to unfold, another manager seems destined to exit stage left.
Chris Hughton is the fifth man to have sat in the City Ground hotseat since Evangelos Marinakis’ takeover four years ago, but a 2-1 loss at home to Cardiff City yesterday saw his job hanging by a thread.
Forest now lie rock bottom of the Championship after their worst start to a season for 108 years. And as if life could get any more miserable for their beleaguered boss, it was his opposite number Mick McCarthy who changed this game – substituting on Ruben Colwill to devastating, and immediate, effect.
Chris Hughton’s Nottingham Forest prop up the Championship with just one point in six games
Substitute Rubin Colwill’s (No 27) brace saw Cardiff turn the game on its head after the break
Hughton played down talk about his future after the match, stressing that he is intent on reversing Forest’s fortunes.
‘I have to be confident we can turn it around,’ he said. ‘Whatever way we do it, we have to get results. It’s my responsibility, and we never think about shirking.’
Forest had led through Lewis Grabban, but never looked in control. Whenever McCarthy’s men floated the ball into their box — which was often — they always looked to cause trouble.
Forest overcame a nervous start to take the lead on 23 minutes through Lewis Grabban
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the pressure in these parts, Forest started slowly and their players looked nervy. Joel Bagan headed against the crossbar for Cardiff early on, and there was a mixture of joy and relief from the home fans after Grabban slotted home Max Lowe’s accurate ball into the box.
Bombarded with long-throws, Forest defenders repeatedly put their bodies on the line to protect their goal, and their lead. Results may have abandoned Hughton, but his players’ fight remains.
If Kieffer Moore had been on the pitch in the first half he would have relished the Bluebirds’ set-piece service. It appeared McCarthy had the same thought, as he threw the burly Moore on shortly after the break, along with 19-year-old Colwill.
Wales international Colwill swept in just a minute after coming on for his first-ever senior goal
It was a decision that reaped instant reward. Moore won a header after a looping ball in, of course, and Colwill pounced to sweep past Brice Samba 53 seconds after coming on.
Suddenly it was all Cardiff. Samba spilled a high ball, but Mark Harris volleyed over with the goal gaping. Moore hit the post with a superb header, then Samba saved well at close-range from another Harris volley.
A goal felt inevitable, and it was. It was Colwill again, too, dancing into space on the edge of the box and placing his shot accurately past Samba. It was a lead Cardiff deserved, and one McCarthy could take a great deal of credit for.
If only Hughton had such a magic touch. Instead, as Cardiff fans sang, ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’, he tasted defeat again. Unfortunately, he may find he has plenty of spare time to chew on it.
And the 19-year-old then curled excellently past Brice Samba to take all three points to Wales
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS FROM THE CITY GROUND
NOTTINGHAM FOREST (4-2-3-1): Samba 6.5; Spence 6.5, Worrall 6, McKenna 6, Lowe 7; Yates 6, Garner 6.5; Zinckernagel 6.5 (Lolley 66, 6), Grabban 7, Johnson 6.5 (Mighten 81); Taylor 5.5.
Subs not used: Horvath, Figueiredo, Mbe Soh, Colback, Carvalho.
Goals: Grabban 23
Manager: Chris Hughton 6
CARDIFF (5-3-2): Phillips 6; Ng 6.5, Morrison 7, Flint 6.5, Nelson 6.5, Bagan 7.5; Bowen 6 (COLWILL 57, 8), Pack 7, Vaulks 6; Harris 6.5, Collins 6 (Moore 57, 7.5).
Subs not used: Smithies, McGuiness, Sang, Evans, Brown.
Goals: Colwill 58, 73
Booked: Ng, Vaulks
Manager: Mick McCarthy
Referee: Dean Whitestone 7