A bitterly cold, overcast day on the banks of the River Trent last Saturday was somewhat emblematic of the current state of affairs at the City Ground.
‘Fawaz Out’ banners were hoisted into the air all around the stadium at kick-off after protests ensued outside of the Peter Taylor Stand prior to the reds’ 3pm encounter with fellow EFL Championship stragglers Bristol City.
Without a manager after the departure of Phillip Montanier coupled with Henri Lansbury’s move to Aston Villa on Friday, it’s certainly going to be a tough task for Gary Brazil to lift the supporters’ spirits at NG2.
“A glimmer of hope amid all the turmoil had to come from somewhere for the home side. Step forward: Ben Osborn.”
The first half was an uneventful 45 minutes with Forest looking the more livelier of the two sides placed 19th and 20th in the EFL Championship. Chances were at a premium, Matty Cash’s strike which forced a smart save from new City goalkeeper Fabian Giefer was the only action of note in the first period.
The second half saw a flurry of chances for the robins with former Forest midfielder Jamie Paterson striking wide before Aden Flint and Tammy Abraham were denied by Stephen Henderson.
A glimmer of hope amid all the turmoil had to come from somewhere for the home side. Step forward: Ben Osborn.
Forest were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal on the seventieth minute, after a foul on Matty Cash. Attacking midfielder Osborn audaciously chipped the ball up and struck a sweet left-footed volley into the top right hand corner of Giefer’s goal.
“It was a moment that was representative of the meteoric rise that the Forest youngster has undergone over the past few seasons.”
The emotion that poured out around the City Ground at that moment was incredible, the Forest fans went into raptures as Osborn sprinted away to slide in front of fans in the Brian Clough stand – it was a goal that the late legendary manager would have been proud of.
The goal that secured an almighty six-pointer for the reds was badly needed for a Forest side way short on confidence at the moment.
It was a moment that was representative of the meteoric rise that the youngster has undergone over the past few seasons.
The Derbyshire-born 22-year-old made his breakthrough from the youth ranks to the Forest first team during the 2013-14 season and made eight appearances towards the latter half of the campaign before signing a five-year deal.
“He was nominated for Nottingham Footballer of the Year in 2015, he has been an indispensable part of the Forest midfield ever since and has become arguably one of the best players in the squad.”
He then went on to solidify his place in Stuart Pearce’s starting XI during the 2014-15 season, a year in which he scored that thunderbolt against East Midlands rivals Derby County to win the match 2-1.
He was nominated for Nottingham Footballer of the Year in 2015, the Derby-born midfielder has been an indispensable part of the Forest midfield ever since and has become arguably one of the best players in the squad.
The academy graduate has been a shining light for Forest at numerous times of darkness and has so much in his locker. Osborn’s close control, skill, striking ability, vision and possession keeping attributes make him a top EFL Championship midfielder.
Forest fans will be praying for their lives that Osborn doesn’t leave the City Ground for a bigger club like teenage winger Oliver Burke did back in August after a £13 million bid from RB Leipzig.
With a relegation battle on their hands and Henri Lansbury no longer in central midfield, it is pivotal that Forest hang on to the 22-year-old. But with the likes of Watford and Swansea reportedly interested in his signature, that may prove a tricky prospect in this transfer window.