O’Neill admits he has lots of work to do at Forest

Martin O’Neill admitted he had lots of work to do after watching his Nottingham Forest side lose 2-0 away to Birmingham.

The new Forest boss saw Jota’s early goal and a late Che Adams penalty sink his side and also had Yohan Benalouane sent off.

O’Neill admitted: “There is no time for experimentation as we need to find out about the players and not lose ground. A defeat knocks you back.

“I am confident that we can get things going when we sort out the team. But I hadn’t realised Forest have not won back to back games since September. That itself is not something a relegation side should be looking at never mind a side trying to get into the playoffs.

“We have to try and rectify that as it is very important. We had the opportunity against Birmingham but we came up short.”

O’Neill added: “We started brightly against Birmingham, hit the post and conceded, from our point of view what was as poor goal which set us back.

“It was disappointing to lose as I thought we could get the equaliser. They then scored a late penalty. I can cope with that but when we have possession in good positions we need to do better.”

O’Neill paid rich credit to Jota’s performance after the Spaniard scored the opening goal.

O’Neill said: “Jota has a lot of talent. A nice footballer. We saw a lot of him at Brentford a couple of years ago when he was excellent. He can cause you problems because he has ability.”

Birmingham carved out their success as a result of a 13th-minute strike from Jota and a penalty in the first minute of added time from Adams who took his goals tally to 16 for the season.

Forest may have enjoyed most of the second half attacking play but they lacked a cutting edge.

All too often they relied upon the threat of Joe Lolley who smashed a shot against the post in the opening 10 minutes.

Birmingham used a different style of play than normal and were rewarded with their first home win since Boxing Day.

Birmingham manager Garry Monk was particularly pleased with the way Jota adapted to the switch from being an orthodox winger into a roving midfield role behind the two strikers.

Monk said: “Although Martin O’Neill has only had a few games at Forest I thought they might set up in a way which would frustrate us.

“That is why I used Jota in this position to play as he did against Forest. He was very effective and he scored an excellent goal.

“We worked on this plan in training and the pleasing part was that the lads delivered with a strong performance. It is credit to the players who have listened and understood what we asked of them.

“It was a case of getting on the front foot and producing a strong performance in front of our fans.”

Monk added: “I thought it was a fantastic response against a quality side like Nottingham Forest.

“It was important to get back to winning ways at St. Andrew’s. We controlled the majority of the game except for the final 10 minutes when they tossed everything at us.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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