Nottingham Forest fans know the anger of Hull City supporters, but the similarities end there at last


As players and stewards cleared hundreds of tennis balls from the pitch, Hull City fans chanted for owner Assem Allam to sell up and go.

New board please was the not so gently conveyed request – and it was a familiar one for Nottingham Forest fans.

As recently as January, Forest supporters packed the car park outside the Peter Taylor Stand at the City Ground, as they set off red smoke bombs and demanded Fawaz Al Hasawi make way for new owners.

Forest have one now in Evangelos Markinakis, who finally got his hands on the club in the summer at the second attempt after protracted negotiations.

Hull City owner Assem Allam

They appear to be a team on the up after winning 3-2 at the KCOM Stadium, thanks to Kieran Dowell’s hat-trick, as they moved to within a point of the Championship top six.

Hull on the other hand look to be in where Forest were 10 months ago.

Before the game hundreds of fans marched towards the ground in unity against Allam. Their patience has long since run out with an owner who appears to have little affinity for how the city’s biggest community asset should be run.

Forest fans can only empathise after Al Hasawi lost the backing of supporters as the name of Nottingham Forest was dragged through the mud.

Reds fans never threw tennis balls, or perhaps they were yellow stress balls, on the pitch. The strain has become too much for Hull supporters though.

In the 19th minute yellow balls rained past Forest keeper Jordan Smith, who must have wondered what was going on.

Hull City fans throw balls onto the pitch while protesting about the owner

Hull are now 17th in the table after being in the Premier League last year. Their manager, Leonid Slutsky, seems unable to convey his message properly having made changes at half-time in three of the last four home games.

The Russian paced around his technical area back and forth, back and forth in the same pattern without ever offering instruction.

The Tigers played without a clear philosophy. That was not a problem for Forest, who coped with the loss of Daryl Murphy’s physical presence by playing free flowing football as much as possible.

They managed to match this with defensive resolve, as headers were won, tackles made and shots blocked. They conceded two goals, but they defended well.

Of course, it helps to have a player with the natural ability of Dowell, who opened the scoring in the 29th minute, before making it 2-0 in the 71st.

Fans throw balls onto the pitch protesting about the City owner

Hull’s best player on the day, Jarrod Bowen, pulled one back with a brilliant strike of his own five minutes later.

Dowell restored the two goal advantage from the penalty spot with seven minutes left before Michael Hector set up a tense finish by making it 3-2 with two minutes to go.

Forest deserved the win though and in Dowell they have a star in the making. Already an England Under-20 international, he has the potential to play for the senior side if he is given opportunities in the Premier League.

At the moment there are no guarantees parent club Everton will be there next season. Forest might be 11th, but their proximity to the play-off places will raise expectations again in a league where a burst of form can transform the perspective of supporters.

Dowell has five goals this season. If he plays to his potential then he can help Forest fans at least dream.

The 20-year-old is reminiscent of a young Paul Gascoigne when in full flow as he glides past players with surprising pace and strength.

He did not actually start that well in a wind-battered Humberside though. That all changed when he took the ball just inside his own half from Liam Bridcutt after good work by Barrie McKay.

With runners left and right and a back pedalling defence, Dowell drove forwards for the first time in the match.

David Vaughan celebrates after Kieran Dowell’s opener

The opening was there and he took it emphatically, smashing a left footed shot past Allan McGregor from 25 yards.

Hull had their moments, but Smith was forced into only one stop in the first half, when David Meyler was inexplicably allowed to turn in the six-yard box and get a shot away.

Forest were unlucky not to go two up shortly before the break. Jason Cummings struggled to make an impact as the lone striker, but was at involved in a move involving around 20 passes. He would later head the ball of his line to save a certain goal.

The ball was moved from the left wing to the right and back again, before Eric Lichaj’s cross was volleyed onto Hull the bar by Ben Osborn via the glove of McGregor.

Dowell’s second was perhaps even more impressive from a technical viewpoint, sweeping the ball in off the post on the half volley from 14 yards.

The third was a well taken penalty after Tyler Walker was tripped in the box. Walker made a good impression after getting the nod to come on ahead of Ben Brereton, who might have thought he would get a start through the middle with Murphy nursing a hamstring strain.

Tyler Walker is fouled in the box by David Meyler

Brereton must remain patient for now, but he will surely get his chance. The challenge will be to take it, just as Dowell has and just as Joe Worrall did at Hull.

Back in the starting line-up after signing a new four-and-a-half year deal, Worrall blocked brilliantly from Kamil Grosicki in the first half and reacted sharply in the second when Smith was unable to hold a fierce drive from Fraizer Campbell.

Michael Mancienne won headers alongside him as Forest looked strong through the middle with David Vaughan and Bridcutt providing a solid midfield base.

They now go to Reading on Tuesday. Like Hull, the Royals are struggling.

Forest can make it three wins in a row. They could be in the top six come Wednesday morning.

Who would have thought that after losing to Derby earlier this month? The tides of Championship change quickly though.

Forest could soon be on the crest of a wave, although it is worth noting Hull were nothing special. Reading might well be in the same category.



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