Nottingham Forest manager Chris Hughton hailed the professionalism of recalled full-backs Carl Jenkinson and Gaetan Bong as the pair helped secure a 1-0 victory over Cardiff in the FA Cup third round.
Former Arsenal right-back Jenkinson and Cameroon international Bong were part of a solid back four that kept a more adventurous Cardiff team at bay to register a third consecutive clean sheet at home, equalling Forest’s best sequence since 2010.
Match-winner Lyle Taylor, who scored in the third minute, was also among eight changes to the side that secured a victory at Preston, with Hughton admitting he now has welcome selection headaches.
He said: “I was pleased with Jenkinson and Bong. For them to come in and be part of that defensive unit that did so well, speaks volumes for the hard work they have put in during training.
“They have hardly played any type of game for three months, but one thing I think we do right is the volume of training we give players who aren’t in the team.
“The changes from the last game to this one were not dramatic ones and we have got good competition and choices to make now. Both centre-backs were also excellent and they needed to be.
“We need to keep the ball better, because we are putting more pressure on ourselves than we would like and this was an uncomfortable game for us, so we needed that good partnership. The ideal scenario is that you defend very well and score goals but, when you are finding scoring goals difficult, it’s something you have to work on while making sure you stay in games at the same time.”
Neil Harris was less satisfied with the efforts of his fringe players, as he contends with a growing injury list, including eight-goal top scorer Kieffer Moore.
He said: “I picked a team to win, because the FA Cup is a wonderful competition, even if it has lost some of its sparkle because the pandemic means there aren’t any fans.
“But, while I’m not overly disappointed with the performance because we controlled the majority of the game, our main downfall was the poor goal we conceded.
“That was really disappointing so early in the game. We should have stopped the cross and then we gave their striker an opportunity to score from 12 yards.
“It was still a great finish and, if you look at his goal and the one from Junior Hoilett that went an inch over, it shows the close margins, but we still have to do better. We had 15 shots and lots of balls that went across their six-yard box, but couldn’t find that moment of quality.
“We’re missing Kieffer not being in the team but, if you miss players, then other players have to come in and step up.”
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