Lewis Grabban strikes at the death as Forest edge to narrow victory at Millwall
Lewis Grabban’s dramatic stoppage-time winner settled an entertaining contest at the Den as Nottingham Forest beat Millwall 1-0.
Defeat was cruel on the hosts, who were the better side for large periods of the first half.
Forest were much improved after the interval and had several chances before Grabban – a former Lion – poked home from a yard out right at the death.
It was Benik Afobe who engineered the opening chance of the game, and it was all his own work.
A clever shimmy saw him lose Joe Worrall with ease, before racing into the Forest penalty area and hitting one from close range, turned round his post by Brice Samba.
Sheyi Ojo and Tom Bradshaw then combined for the latter to deliver a superb, skidding cross right in front of Samba. Scott Malone was a whisker away from turning the ball in to give his side the lead which their start deserved but, urged on by an appreciative home crowd, they continued to probe.
Ojo was beginning to run proceedings in midfield and his pinpoint cross, midway through the half, found Danny McNamara at the back post. He could not quite head the ball back into the danger area, Samba smothering the danger quickly.
It took almost 25 minutes for Forest to work Bartosz Bialkowski in the Millwall goal, Aston Villa loanee Keinan Davis the man to alleviate some of the pressure on his defensive colleagues.
The game really came to life just before the break as Forest rallied.
A positive surge forward from Davis saw him bring Grabban into the game and he intelligently delayed his pass until Ryan Yates had arrived into the penalty area unmarked. Either side of Bialkowski would have been enough, but he did not sufficiently test the Millwall keeper.
Yates had a cross scrambled off the line moments later as Millwall were asked questions in their own third for the first time and they were dealt a significant blow with the loss of Ojo, who landed awkwardly after going up for a header.
Steve Cooper evidently had a few words to say at half-time, with Forest much better in the second period.
Grabban, who had largely cut an isolated figure up to that point, and Yates might have had two in a minute, only to be denied by McNamara’s sharp reactions on the line and a point-blank, diving save from Bialkowski.
The final 10 minutes saw the sides go toe to toe, with action at both ends.
Grabban missed an open goal two minutes from time, failing to connect with Brennan Johnson’s cross, before Afobe was somehow kept out by Samba low down to his right.
In a thrilling finale, it was Forest skipper Grabban who had the last word.
Philip Zinckernagel tip-toed past three blue shirts to carve open the Millwall rearguard and with Bialkowski committed, Grabban just had to usher the ball home in front of the Forest faithful to finally deliver the game’s telling blow.
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