Reds chief Cooper felt his side were 'tactically superior' to Luton in Championship stalemate

Forest manager thought hosts should have had a penalty too

By Mike Simmonds
Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 11:23 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 11:24 am
Forest boss Steve Cooper hugs keeper Brice Samba following last night's goalless draw
Forest boss Steve Cooper hugs keeper Brice Samba following last night's goalless draw

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper felt his side were ‘tactically superior' to the Hatters during the first period of their goalless draw at the City Ground last night, before questioning referee Jeremy Simpson's decision-making as the hosts ended up playing the final half an hour with 10 men.

The opening 45 minutes saw the Reds enjoy the lion's share of the ball, with 61 per cent, but barely tested visiting keeper James Shea, most of their efforts coming from range, defender Scott McKenna putting their best attempt over the bar.

After the break, Lyle Taylor was denied by Shea following a mistake at the back, before Philip Zinckernagel bent one off target, but Forest were then forced to try and hold on to a point from the hour onwards, defender Jack Colback seeing yellow for his second offence.

The ex-Sunderland man hauled back Tom Lockyer from a corner to concede a penalty, only to see keeper Brice Samba perform heroics to save Elijah Adebayo's effort with his legs.

Cooper told the Nottingham Post: “First half, we dominated possession and I thought we were tactically superior.

“We were ready to step it up a notch at the start of the second half.

"Lyle (Taylor) had a chance, Phil was getting into some good areas, and we were ready to really go to work in the last half hour.

“30 minutes to go with 11 men, we were in complete control of the game, we created good chances, but just like that, things change.

“We dominated the first half and wore them down and we were ready to kill the game, but that opportunity was taken away from us.

“Then we had to show the other side of our game.

"A group of lads have shown that it matters, that this football club matters.

"They’ve given everything to make sure they kept the ball out of the net - from unbelievable individual moments from our goalkeeper, to good tactical composure in defending the box, to showing heart and soul.

“I expect that, but at the same time, when you see it, you have to give credit when it’s due.”

Meanwhile, when discussing the incident that saw Colback dismissed, Cooper felt the original set-piece shouldn't have been awarded.

He also thought Forest were deserving a spot-kick of their own when Zinckernagel was fouled by Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, the incident deemed to have taken place outside the box by Simpson.

Cooper added: “First of all, I don’t think it’s a corner.

"And if he’s going to give a penalty for that, okay, we’ll take it, but he’s going to have to give a lot of penalties this year.

“He (Simpson) is high on his stats for yellows and reds anyway.

"We let the players know that. He was true to form.

“And yeah, everyone has seen it (the Zinckernagel penalty claim).”