Nottingham Forest vs Brentford Preview: Can Brentford break Karanka hoodoo to keep play-off hopes alive?

Nottingham Forest vs Brentford Preview: Can Brentford break Karanka hoodoo to keep play-off hopes alive?

Brentford will hope to continue their winning streak at the City Ground, in a vital game for The Bees' play-off chances. But Aitor Karanka has won all six encounters against Brentford, which came when he was Middlesbrough manager.

Bradley Collings

Nottingham Forest meet Brentford on Tuesday night, as the visiting Bees look to keep their Sky Bet Championship play-off hopes alive.

Dean Smith's side sit in tenth place, five points outside of the play-off places, but within striking distance of Middlesbrough with only a handful of games left in the season. 

Meanwhile, Aitor Karanka’s men sit 17th only nine points clear of the drop zone. 

Recent meetings

Brentford have scored three in each of their past three visits to Nottingham, which all ended in away wins.

However, Forest won the reverse fixture 4-3 at Griffin Park in August, under the guidance of former Brentford manager Mark Warburton.

A repeat scoreline is unlikely though after the club owners sacrificed the attack-minded coach in favour of a more pragmatic approach.

Recent form

Nottingham Forest should comfortably avoid relegation, but worryingly for Reds fans, they have failed to score in their last five games. 2-0 defeats on the road against Middlesbrough and Millwall were preceded by three 0-0 draws on the trot.

Incredibly, in Aitor Karanka’s tenure so far, Forest have failed to score in 10 out of the 14 league games he has taken charge of. But they can be encouraged by their defensive form, as Danny Fox and Tobias Figueredo have formed a solid partnership at centre-back.

Brentford meanwhile, will be hoping to take advantage of the other play-off hopefuls slipping up in recent weeks.

Many of the teams in the mix are due to play each other over the run-in, and The Bees have closed the gap to five points following two wins in a row.

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Team news

Lee Tomlin has enjoyed scoring against The Bees for Middlesbrough and Bristol City in recent seasons, and he will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of clubs when Forest host the west Londoners.

Matty Cash was the last player to score for the goal-shy Tricky Trees, in a 2-1 win against Birmingham City. Cash is doubtful for Tuesday’s encounter, but top scorer Kieran Dowell has recently returned from injury and should start in midfield.

Daryl Murphy is also unlikely to be fit, so Apostolos Vellios or Ben Brereton will lead the line.

Brentford’s star midfielder Ryan Woods serves his third and final game of a suspension, but The Bees have coped well in his absence, in back-to-back 1-0 victories.

Neal Maupay has been the match-winner in both of those games, also scoring in this season’s reverse fixture, and the Frenchman will start up front.

In the Bees’ home win v Ipswich, Alan Judge made only his second start since a 2-year injury lay-off. He may be rested in place of winger Florian Jozefzoon, who is returning from a minor ankle problem.