Sky Bet Championship outfit Nottingham Forest recorded their first victory of the 2018/19 campaign with a 1-0 victory over Reading at the City Ground on Saturday.
The Reds tasted victory for the first time this season thanks to a second-half strike from summer signing Hillal Soudani, who stepped off the bench to show Aitor Karanka – and the adoring Forest faithful – exactly what he is capable of.
It had been a somewhat disjointed performance from the Reds before the Algerian curled an unstoppable effort beyond Vito Mannone in the Royals’ goal with just 22 minutes remaining on the clock.
Karanka’s men were left frustrated with a dogged game plan from Paul Clement’s side and for a long period of the game it had looked like being a third consecutive share of the spoils for the East Midlands-based club.
With the Reds having spent heavily on the squad this season it is definitely apparent that promotion is the ultimate goal from this campaign and this maiden victory will give a new-look squad a massive boost of confidence.
The Boot Room looked at three things learnt about Nottingham Forest from their 1-0 win over Reading.
Danny Fox is integral
According to Who Scored, the Nottingham Forest central defender and captain for the afternoon won 11 headers against Reading in a vastly dominant display.
It is a remarkable turnaround for the 32-year-old who only a few years ago was deemed a weak link in the Forest side, with some fans deeming him the scapegoat for some underwhelming form.
Forest have recruited several new defenders this summer with Michael Dawson, Jack Robinson and Micheal Hefele all arriving at the City Ground. On current form, however, each of the new boys have a real job on getting in the starting line-up, such has been the form of a rejuvenated Fox.
Competition for places is as good as ever
In recent years Forest have found themselves short of a squad that is remotely capable of challenging for anything in the higher echelons of the Championship table, but thankfully that looks like being a thing of the past under Aitor Karanka.
With the arrival of Sam Byram into the squad, the Reds now boast two solid players capable of performing in the Championship and it could be the quality of the personnel in their squad that gives them the edge on their rivals this season.
Hillal Soudani and Matty Cash entered the fray on 56 minutes and just 12 minutes later the two had combined to edge Forest in front and ease the frustration that was building around the City Ground.
Karanka now boasts one of the best squads in the second tier at his disposal and the challenge for him will be to ensure that morale remains high among the crop of players not featuring on a frequent basis.
Newcastle midfielder is a stunning loan signing
Some people questioned Aitor Karanka in the summer when he opted to bring back Jack Colback for a second loan spell after he impressed during last season, with certain fans wondering whether Forest really needed him.
On Saturday’s showing the signing of the 28-year-old is a fantastic piece of recruitment from the Reds and he was once again in solid form in the middle of the park alongside the in-form Adlène Guedioura.
According to Who Scored, Colback boasted a successful pass completion rate of 87% and with him in the side it seems as though Forest will be capable of winning more games than not.