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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Saturday, October 3rd 2020

'We passed the mental test' - Holden

Dean Holden praised his squad for passing a "mental test" to see out a 2-1 victory against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

The Robins will head into the first international break of the season with their 100% Sky Bet Championship record intact.

First-half goals from Andreas Weimann and Nahki Wells put City in front, though a spirited fightback from Forest began through Luke Freeman’s long-range strike.

Mental test

The head coach was pleased that City held firm with heroic defending while not deviating from their ambition to claim a third goal.

Holden told Robins TV: “We knew the threat that Forest would pose, especially given the difficult start to the season that they have had. I said to the lads at half-time 'this is the biggest test now mentally, because they are going to throw everything at you' – it was risk and reward for them.

“I said to them after the game that I’m really pleased that it’s worked out like that because there will be times that you are tested. They put everything on the line and did their jobs. Bents (Dan Bentley) has done his job as a goalkeeper and he has made some big saves. They have had the majority of the play in the second half and Bents has been outstanding. It was a really pleasing victory because the conditions were tough and it didn’t always go our way.”

Dream start

“It was important to start well with two very good goals from Nahki and Andi and a couple of assists from big Chrissy Martin. It was a great start to the game but I remember we switched off on a throw-in on the far side. We probably had about 15 seconds to get set for it and we switched off from it but they got down the side and had a big chance from it and the momentum changed a bit."

Attacking intent

“You saw as the game wore on that we had counter-attack after counter-attack to get the third goal and we didn’t quite manage it, and then you have to make sure you protect that lead.

“The players behind the ball are getting the confidence that it’s going to stick with Chris Martin and there are going to be flick-ons that get us up the pitch.

“But then you’ve got Fam (Diédhiou) who comes on and wins that header off the six-yard box which he does so well from corners. It was a team effort. It wan't a performance that wasn’t free-flowing , although at times in the game I thought we passed the ball really well. All-in -all it was another welcome three points."

International break

City next face Barnsley at Oakwell in a fortnight and Holden added: “We’ll use the international break as well as we can. It gives us a chance to get a couple of injured players hopefully back fit for the Barnsley game. Callum O’Dowda will go away with Ireland and get a little bit of game time which he hasn’t had recently.

“It will allow us to take a step back away from a game and look at the previous matches and see where we need to improve because we need to improve in every area to keep this run going.”

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