Five things we learnt from Nottingham Forest's opening day defeat to Coventry City
Coventry City and Nottingham Forest players observe a minutes since just moments before their 21/22 campaign's got underway
(Photo by Marc Atkins via Getty Images)

As Brennan Johnson darted into the final third before sliding across for the onrushing Lyle Taylor to open the scoring, Forest supporters were yet to realise the old foe they would later be painfully greeted with. That being the moment the clock strikes 80. 

Late goals from Viktor Gyokeres on 82 and a 96th minute winner from Kyle McFazdean cancelled out Forest's earlier strike, to confirm an opening day victory for Coventry City on their return home. 

Points dropped, yet another lead surrendered late. New season, same problems. 

But, here are five things we did learn from Nottingham Forest's opener against the Sky Blues. 

Joyous Johnson impresses on league return 

Although it's hard to take a loss in the way it presented itself at the Coventry Building Society Arena yesterday evening, there were positives to take. One of which was the adaptation of the youngsters called upon to start - notably Johnson. 

After impressing in Sky Bet League One, Johnson was thrown into the starting 11 and forced to sink or swim in adapting to Sky Bet Championship football. 

Johnson impressed on the day, and set-up the Reds' opener with a dazzling run from the halfway point, before slotting a perfectly weighted ball across the area into Taylor, who prodded home. 

Since the 20-year-old's return from Lincoln City, he's been of interest to Premier League clubs. Johnson's quick feet, turn of pace, mazy dribbling and eye for a pass, were just some of the qualities displayed on the opening day, showcasing just why there are clubs vying for his signature. 

Tactically inept 

If Forest are to progress this season and see games through until the final whistle, and subsequently break a terribly bad habit of conceding late goals to surrender points, then tactical changes are needed. 

The stubborn and worn out 4-3-2-1 formation has been the mainstay set-up adopted by the Reds over the past two seasons, with it only being tweaked a handful of times. 

As Coventry grew into the game yesterday during the second-half, Forest didn't have the answers. And, on the dawn of a new season the implementation of a new system or ideas wasn't present. 

Forest often look void of ideas when they're ahead, and the current system has never crushed teams from an attacking standpoint, which opposes the question as to why the Reds haven't been flexible when things have gone wrong? 

A switch of formation from the whistle, or for the final 20-25 minutes to freshen things up and give the opposition something new to think about,  would combat things drying up in the final third, like they did as the game wore on yesterday. 

Exposure down the left 

It's certainly no secret that the Reds have been in the market for a left-back this summer, but with them yet to recruit, Gaetan Bong was given the nod at the CBS Arena. 

What followed was serious exposure down the left flank. The Sky Blues switched play, arrowed deep passes into Forest's left defensive quartet and ran at Bong on numerous occasions. This reinforced the message that Forest need to recruit in their problem area at left-back this summer transfer window, and sooner rather than later. 

Bong didn't make a mistake that led to a goal, or put in a horror show performance. However, he didn't progress play very well and his aimless long balls forward were very predictable, and one dimensional at that. 

The Ex Brighton & Hove Albion man was deemed surplus to requirements earlier this summer, but after a slow transfer window Bong is currently the only natural left-back at the club. However, if new additions are brought in to bolster, then the 33-year-old's time at Forest may very much be over, after a string of poor performances. 

Impressive showing from Mbe Soh prior to his day concluding early 

Loic Mbe Soh found first-team opportunities hard to come by in his debut campaign in English football last season, but with Joe Worrall absent and with plenty of pre-season minutes under his belt, Mbe Soh was given the start. 

It was an assured and confident defensive performance from the Frenchman, who was fantastic in aerial duels and notably progressed the ball forward nicely, as he often broke the lines of the Coventry midfield. 

Unfortunately, just moments before the interval Mbe Soh hobbled off the pitch and his afternoon finished early. It is yet to be determined the severity of the groin injury he sustained, and how long he may be on the sidelines for. However, based on his showing, Forest need him to return swiftly and play a big part this season, as he starts to grow in the Garibaldi. 

Mbe Soh's natural pace as a centre-back sets him apart from other defensive players Forest have. His athleticism and strength on and off the ball is refreshing to see, and Reds fans can expect to see more of the youngster this season. 

Isolation up top 

Despite Taylor's opener, and a couple of other inviting openings for the Montserrat international, for large periods of the game Taylor looked isolated as the loan striker. 

McFazdean put in a stellar defensive performance, but wasn't tested enough across the afternoon, as Forest often stalled before finding Taylor in the final third. 

The Reds currently have Taylor, whose linked with a move away to fellow Championship side Birmingham City, in a potential rekindling with former boss Lee Bowyer, as well as Lewis Grabban, Nuno Da Costa and young Will Swan on the books as striking options. 

There are certainly goals among that list of names, but should the likely occurrence of an injury hamper one of them this season, it leaves Forest very short and with little room to manoeuvre towards a two striker system. 

With just over three weeks of the window remaining, adding another striker could serve as a viable problem solver for Forest's isolation up front, lack of shots and goals. 

A fresh face, preferably in loan form, would be an astute piece of business that wouldn't cost the club a fee. 

Much like James Garner last season, a young striker would join the Reds with a point to prove, wanting to impress his parent club and everyone on Trentside.

Adding further competition could be the extra vigour needed to get the cogs turning in the attacking department once again, and is something that should be considered by Chris Hughton as he continues to make assessments of his squad over the coming weeks. 

VAVEL Logo