Learning How To Battle
The City Ground
This is the first fixture between these two teams since new years day 2005 when Forest ran out 1 - 0 winners thanks to an Eugen Bopp goal in a game that saw 2 Stoke players sent off (Hill & Clarke) in the last 5 minutes.
Although some of the Forest faithful have been a little down following the recent defeat to local rivals Notts County, a quick glance over to the potteries should give them a reason to be thankful, Stoke have so far played 5 pre-season games, failing to win any & drawing just one against household names such as Nantwich Town, Newcastle Town, St Pauli, Hapoel Tel Aviv & Preston North End.
Since the day Billy Davies arrived in Nottingham he's been trying to toughen up this squad. If consecutive games against Stoke & Birmingham don't teach them how to fight for a win, nothing will.
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Kelvin Wilson was taken off with an ankle injury in the last game against Notts County & his replacement Luke Chambers was also withdrawn from the game with a cut near his eye but that shouldn't keep him out of this game. There is still no sign of Paul Smith who hasn't appeared in any of the last 3 friendy games with no official word from Forest as to why.
Player to watch: Paul McKenna
The new arrival from Preston played well in the game at Meadow Lane and will be looking to prove to Billy Davies that he is worthy of a starting place come August 8th. If he continues to impress he may well run out against Reading as captain.
Stoke City Team News:
After finishing in a highly respectable 12th place last season there has been very little transfer activity at the Britannia stadium with only Sunderland's Dean Whitehead being added to their senior ranks although 18 year old duo Matthew Lund and Ben Marshall have both arrived from Crewe to bolster their back up.
Player to watch: James Beattie
Beattie arrived in Stoke in the middle of January last season with Stoke sitting in 17th place & just one point above the drop zone, the much criticised former England International scored 7 goals with 3 assists in just 16 games helping them to a comfortable end to a season which saw them eventually finish 11 points clear
Match Facts & Stats
Forest & Stoke have met in league competition 98 times in their history with Forest winning 41, Stoke 29 & 28 draws. This fixture has seen 265 goals with Forest grabbing 146 of them.
I can see this ending as a low scoring draw, probably 1 - 1 with the Matt Mills signing announced just before kick off.
Forest v Birmingham: Saturday 1st August.