Nottingham Forest are enduring another difficult season and more than a third of the way through the campaign find themselves only four points above the relegation zone.
Forest, now in their eighth consecutive season in the Championship, have not been in the Premier League since 1999 – despite being one of the founder members of the competition.
The former European champions have not come close to regaining their top flight status in recent years, with eighth their best finish since losing in the play-offs for the second year in a row in 2011.
At least Forest come into Saturday’s game after beating deadly rivals Derby 1-0 in their last game before the international break.
Not only did it stretch their unbeaten run against the Rams to three games, it was also their first win in nine matches following their back-to-back away successes at QPR and Birmingham at the start of September.
Those are their only victories on the road to date while they have lost their last three away trips – at Bristol City, Sheffield Wednesday and Preston – without scoring a goal.
In fact, they are the third lowest scorers in the Championship with only Preston (11) and Bolton (10) having hit fewer than their 12 goals.
Like us, Forest are in the middle of a five-month spell without cup football after they lost 4-3 at home to Walsall in the first round of the Capital One Cup in early August.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
It is a long, long time since Brentford beat Nottingham Forest at home – more than 66 years in fact!
The last occasion on which Forest left Griffin Park having tasted defeat was in April 1949 when we earned a 2-1 win in the old Second Division to complete the double over the City Ground side.
Forest have visited TW8 six times since then in league action – earning four consecutive 1-1 draws, earning a 2-1 win and then sharing the points again last season in a 2-2 draw on Easter Monday.
All the goals came in the last half hour with Tyler Walker, son of Des, putting the visitors ahead just after the hour mark with his first professional strike and Todd Kane doubling the lead 13 minutes from time.
But Andre Gray three minutes later and then Jota (in the last minute when else?) snatched a draw for us.
It followed a 3-1 win at the City Ground on Bonfire Night when a sparkling performance saw us race into a 3-0 lead by the 48th minute thanks to goals from Jon Toral, Andre Gray and then Alex Pritchard from the penalty spot. Michail Antonio scored a late reply – but just over a year on, none of those scorers are still with their clubs.
Dougie Freedman took charge of Forest at the start of February – replacing Stuart Pearce at the helm.
Freedman is a former Forest player, having spent two-and-a-quarter years there at the end of the 1990s.
The former Scotland international striker began his managerial career as assistant to Paul Hart at another of his former clubs Crystal Palace.
He became manager, saving the club from relegation to League One, and led them to fourth in the Championship before leaving to join Bolton in October 2012.
The Trotters just missed out on the play-offs under Freedman’s leadership in 2013 and he left the club towards the end of last year.
The other clubs on Freedman’s playing CV are QPR, Barnet, Crystal Palace (two spells), Wolves, Leeds and Southend.
Lennie Lawrence is Freedman’s assistant – a role the former Charlton manager also fulfilled for him at Crystal Palace and Bolton.
Forest captain Chris Cohen has said the side are determined to build on their morale-boosting win over Derby a fortnight ago.
Cohen, finally close to a return to action after a 14-month injury lay-off because of a serious knee injury, told the Nottingham Post: “We want to build on it this time.
“The way we beat Derby last season was such a high – but two days later we went to Fulham and found ourselves playing in front of 10,000 fans with a flat atmosphere.
“This time, we have had two weeks to prepare for a game against a good side who have had a real upturn in form recently.”
Full-back Eric Lichaj echoed his skipper’s views. He told the Nottingham Post: “I think we can kick on. Every game we’ve played has been winnable. We’ve just been getting unlucky so hopefully we do something special on Saturday.
“I don’t think the international break came at a bad time. A few guys are coming back from injury so that helps.
“We needed that Derby win and hopefully that work we’ve put in this week on the training ground will make the difference when we go to Brentford.”
Nottingham Forest are slowly but surely coming out of an injury crisis.
Although Chris Cohen is not ready yet for first-team action, defender Michael Mancienne and midfielder Robert Tesche do have a chance of regaining their places in the squad.
On loan midfielder Kyle Ebecilio has recovered from a recent strain but may not make the 18 because of the number of other loan players already in the party.
Forest are however still without long-term injury victims Britt Assombalonga, Matty Fryatt and Andy Reid.
Dougie Freedman’s side have been playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Portugal international Nelson Oliveira, currently on loan from Benfica, up front.
Both Oliveira and Ryan Mendes, with Cape Verde, were in international action in midweek.
Forest have used 28 players this season with no Championship ever-presents leaving their top appearance-maker as goalkeeper Dorus De Vries who has only missed one of their 16 matches.
Eric Lichaj has played 14 and other regular starters have been defender Daniel Pinillos (13 games) and defender Matthew Mills and midfielders Henri Lansbury and David Vaughan with 12 each.
Not one Forest player has scored more than two goals in the league.
Drinking in Brentford
For Forest fans coming along, you are probably aware there are plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming. Colours are fine and there is no ‘bouncer culture’ on the doors of our boozers – not yet anyway. All fans are welcome and most fans usually cite Brentford as their favourite away-day which we’re quite proud of.
As is etched in common folklore , there were four pubs around the ground until a few weeks ago – unfortunately one closed down to leave only three now. The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very very busy. The New Inn is on the other side is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option (The Royal Oak was the one that closed down).
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) the … The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted fanzine main pub – a very friendly pub indeed. The other boozer is The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) – both incredibly friendly and cozy away-friendly pubs and 30 seconds walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. Boro fans and Bees fans had one hell of a party before and after the match in both these boozers (despite us losing)- and The Plough (Northfields Ave – one minute walk from the tube) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route on the Northfields pub crawl).
Easily the best way to Brentford is to get the Piccadilly line from King’s Cross to either Northfields or South Ealing (35 mins). Northfields is preferred by fans in the know as it has a decent pub crawl run on the way to the ground (Plough, Lord Nelson, Globe). South Ealing has one posh pub en route that doesn’t really like football fans so we won’t even give it a mention here. It’s 20 mins walk from either South Ealing OR Northfields to the ground or you can get the E2 bus from Northfields or 65 bus from South Ealing for the short 5 minute journey.
Some fans prefer to take the Victoria Line to Vauxhall then get the overground to Brentford mainline station. Depending on your connection time, this could be a slightly longer route as you could be waiting for up to 15 mins for a train and the train takes 26 mins to Brentford. Including your connection from King’s Cross this journey could take you the best part of an hour as opposed to under 40 minutes (plus the journey to the ground).
If you do take this route, there is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … er … the Pub by Brentford station.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. Great views over The Thames. It’s around 15 mins walk to the ground from here.
There are loads more too. A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Rd or Windmill Rd.