How Jack Colback was key to Nottingham Forest's win against Preston North End
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Jack Colback of Nottingham Forest celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Preston North End at City Ground on November 06, 2021 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

The City Ground witnessed Nottingham Forest's sixth win of the season at the weekend over Preston North End. Having been in and out of the team so far this season, Jack Colback's quality has been shining through in recent weeks. 

Whilst being a valuable asset in the centre of midfield, breaking up play and retaining possession for his side, he has recently started adding goals to his arsenal, which are winning Forest points. Colback has scored two goals this season, both of the coming in the last week. 

Manager Steve Cooper says that he is very happy with how he is playing and what he brings to the team, and called his goal against Preston a very good strike.

  • Dirty work in midfield

Jack Colback is known to Nottingham Forest fans for his ability on the ball in the middle of the park, and not necessarily his dirty work when his side haven't got possession. Not only did Colback complete three tackles last time out against Preston, but he made four clearances and three interceptions, which helped relieve the pressure on his side.

Playing alongside Yates in the centre of midfield, it was important that both players were disciplined in their movement and positioning. Despite scoring a goal, Colback was the definition of disciplined and focussed for the entire game, as shown by his heat map.

Jack Colback heat map vs Preston North End | Photo:
Jack Colback heat map vs Preston North End | Photo:

As we can see, Colback was very heavily involved on the left hand side of the pitch, doing lots of defensive work by sitting in front of the back four providing a layer of protection. This is where lots of Preston's play broke down which also allowed Forest to spark counter-attacks which they did so well at the start of the match.

  • A threat going forward

Alongside his great defensive work, Colback also added another string to Forest's bow in an offensive way. His late runs forward from midfield were tough for the Preston defenders to track meaning that he had time and space to either get a shot away or pick a pass in and around the penalty area.

18 out of his 33 passes were made in the Preston half, which shows the intent that he played with when Forest had the ball. He was excellent in the way that when he got on the ball, he calmed everything down for his side and relieved any pressure that they were under. His pass accuracy of 85% was what helped his side going forward. Forest turned over possession very rarely in the centre of the park which made it hard for Preston to counter as they wanted to.

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It was not only his passing that helped Forest going forward, but it was his goal that gave them breathing room at the end of the second half. A well taken volley from the edge of the box after Philip Zinckernagel's free kick was headed clear. Colback composed himself below the high ball before striking it into the back of the net, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.

  • A happy manager

Steve Cooper, when speaking about Colback's goal, was very happy that his side scored from a set piece, as they have been rather rare this season.

"He took it well and he seemed to strike it really well. Massive credit to Stephen Reid for the attacking set plays and the positions he's putting players in and areas that he is highlighting to attack”, he said.

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"We've been due one to be honest, I know it was from a second phase but I feel like we are due scoring from a set piece. Joe Worrall's header against Sheffield United just before half-time and one or two other occasions where we have come close so I am very pleased for the lads that they've done it."

Steve Cooper will now get to work with his side on the grass over the international break, and will be hoping to extend this unbeaten run when the league resumes in mid November.