Taiwo Awoniyi: Can His Late Rally Save Forest?
After a record-breaking transfer from German side, Union Berlin to Nottingham Forest, Super Eagles forward, Taiwo Awoniyi failed to hit the ground running at the City Ground and injuries too, didn’t help matters. However, with a return to the English Championship looming, the Nigeria striker seems to have found his mojo and his four goals for Tricky Forest in their last two matches may be enough to restore his team’s Premier League status
Taiwo Awoniyi’scored twice against fellow strugglers-Southampton, and ensured his side carted away the three points at stake while another two goals against Chelsea earned Nottingham Forest a vital point and another win may be all the Tricky Forest need to escape relegation at the end of the season.
Awoniyi says Nottingham Forest have “two cup finals” left to secure their Premier League status after his two goals earned a valuable point against Chelsea.
Awoniyi, who scored twice in last Monday’s 4-3 win against Southampton to end a run of seven successive league away defeats for Steve Cooper’s men and leaves them three points above third-bottom Leeds United with two games remaining.
Forest have taken seven points from their last four games and are within touching distance of securing successive seasons in the top flight.
But Awoniyi, the first Forest player to score two goals in consecutive Premier League games since Bryan Roy in 1995, maintains there is still work to be done.
“We came here with spirit and togetherness and had a plan that worked. When they score two quick goals you feel bad, but we believed in ourselves and got the point,” said the 25-year-old.
“We now have two finals to go, the next one is Arsenal and from there we will see what happens.”
Forest, who had taken just six away points from a possible 51 this season before the Chelsea game, face the title-chasing Gunners at home today before travelling to Crystal Palace on the final day.
The wisdom of Forest’s decision to stick with Steve Cooper when all around them at the bottom were changing managers – sometimes more than once – will be determined with the outcome of their final two fixtures.
Before the Chelsea game, they had won two of their past three matches – but that was after going 11 without a victory, a period when the Forest board must have been tempted to make a change as all four clubs below them had.
Cooper has found a golden touch at just the right time. Forest have been lamentable in London this season, losing all five previous Premier League visits to the capital by a 16-2 aggregate.
But he turned that form around by frustrating the home side by recalling defender Joe Worrall in place of forward Brennan Johnson and switching to a back five.
His reward was real defensive resolve combined with an eagerness and ability – especially through the aerial prowess of Awoniyi – to capitalise on the weak points of the star-studded hosts. One more victory, or even two draws, might well be enough to preserve their top-flight status and reward the Forest board for sticking with their man.
Awoniyi has been in phenomenal form recently, and his brilliance has kept Nottingham Forest’s hopes of survival alive.
Nottingham Forest coach has urged the Super Eagles striker to continue scoring goals for the team as they look to end the season on a high.
The 25-year-old Super Eagles striker scored twice against Southampton last Monday to spur his side to a 4-3 win.
He then continued with his brilliance, netting a brace for his side to help them gain a massive point after a 2-2 draw with Chelsea.
In his last two appearances, he has equaled his tally of four goals for the entire Premier League campaign. And with two games left, a win will be enough for the Tricky Trees to preserve their place in the English top flight.
Cooper has been impressed with Awoniyi’s form, and he has praises for former Union Berlin man. Nonetheless, he wants the Nigerian to continue churning out the goals.
“You always want your striker to be scoring goals, and he’s got more than a few this week,” Cooper said per Nottingham Post.
“He’s missed most of the second part of the season, and he got injured at a time when he was doing what he did today.
“Although he’s got his goals in the last two games since he’s come back he’s played really well. But obviously, you want your number nine to be scoring goals.
“We’ve been really happy with T. He showed a great attitude and commitment to getting back in the way he did. “He hit the ground running as soon as we got him back on the pitch. Now he’s turning good performances into good performances with goals.
“That’s what you want and what you need from your strikers. Let’s hope he can carry on in the next two games.
According to some statistics from Who Scored, the Nottingham Forest striker has a better conversion rate this season than Harry Kane and has propelled himself into the top 10 strikers in the Premier League based on his ruthlessness. The Reds talisman has been a bit of a late bloomer this season but has now scored four goals in his last two games.
The 25-year-old was the club’s first summer signing after winning promotion to the Premier League.
After scoring 15 goals in the Bundesliga last season, he was plucked from Union Berlin by the Reds for a fee of £17.5 million.
Awoniyi scored five goals in the first half of the campaign but injured his groin during a 1-0 win over Southampton in January.
That injury ruled him out of action for three months and Forest sorely missed his physical presence.
Awoniyi has returned with a bang though and his goals in recent weeks might just keep the Reds in the Premier League.
Clearly, the talented striker has some way to go in order to emulate Kane in terms of the number of goals he scores.
In reality, he will never be as good as Kane in that sense but right now he’s been more productive in front of goal than the Tottenham man. Nottingham Forest play Arsenal and Crystal Palace in their last two games of the season. Cooper would hope that his top goal-poacher continues with his form in their remaining games.