Should Lewis Grabban have started against the Blades?
Lewis Grabban of Nottingham Forest applauds the Forest supporters during the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United at the City Ground, Nottingham on Tuesday 2nd November 2021. (Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Substitute Lewis Grabban came to Nottingham Forest's rescue last night as his close-range strike with seven minutes to go salvaged a point for Steve Cooper's side as they played out a 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United.

Grabban was utilised from the bench in the 63rd minute in the place of Lyle Taylor and it is clear that he made a huge impact, not only with his goal but also the fact that he acted as a focal point that Forest could use and benefit from, especially from wide positions.

Consequently, this raises the question of whether Cooper made the right decision in dropping the 33-year-old to the bench. If he had started instead, could one point have possibly turned into three?

Use of Taylor not very effective

For this Championship clash, Cooper opted to go with two up top with Taylor and academy graduate Brennan Johnson ahead of Joe Lolley.

Last night was actually the first time that Cooper had put Taylor in the starting lineup since his appointment back in September, with the former Charlton Athletic forwards last start coming in Chris Hughton's last game in charge of the club in a 2-0 loss at home to Middlesbrough.

In truth, when it was a great opportunity for Taylor to impress, the 33-year-old failed to really make the most of it as he struggled to get involved in the game.

When he is most lethal is when he is played in behind the defensive line, but with how deep the Reds sat in the first half, along with them tending to whip in crosses from the sides, meant that his qualities didn't suit the hosts’ game plan.

What didn't help is that his striking partner Johnson likes to use his pace to go at defenders and neither came in deep to receive the ball meaning that they struggled to feef off each other.

Second half impact of Grabban

When Grabban entered the field not long after the hour mark, Forest had started to obtain more possession of the ball and were beginning to go at the United defence, while still concentrating their attacks through the wing backs.

This change in style of play suited Grabban as he likes the ball to come into the box, he is dangerous in the air and knows that if the service is effective, that he will always cause a problem for the opposition defence.

The Blades were given a warning of this moments before the leveller when a quality cross from the right was heading towards Grabban, but he just couldn't quite adjust his body to get a vital touch on the ball.

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Then for the goal, he was in the right position to get the first touch on to Johnson's cross from the left and through the experience he has obtained, the striker was the first to pounce and excellently finish past Robin Olsen.

Therefore, with how Forest approached the game in the second period and with it not really suiting the way Taylor likes to play, credit must be given to Cooper for bringing on Grabban at the time that he did.

This is because he knew the fact that by the home side getting the ball out wide and crossing it in  Grabban being on the pitch would give Forest much more of an opportunity to come away with a positive result.

On the other side of that, with Cooper knowing that United were likely to dominate possession in the first half, it  could be considered a wise decision to start with Taylor as the former Swansea City boss knows that he is more likely to press the defence whereas Grabban wouldn't do this as much.

However, the time that Grabban came on to the pitch was the right time and the correct exchange as Cooper knew that his striking instinct, along with his physical presence up top, would likely make a difference and this proved to be the case. 

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