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Brice Samba save ‘like a winning goal’ – Steve Cooper

Nottingham Forest v Luton Town – Sky Bet Championship – City Ground
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper likened goalkeeper Brice Samba’s contribution to his 10-man side’s 0-0 home draw with Luton to that of a match-winning striker.

Samba saved a 62nd-minute penalty from Elijah Adebayo after Jack Colback had been shown a second yellow card for hauling Tom Lockyer down in the box.

The Congolese keeper then demonstrated brilliant reflexes to keep out a firm Kai Naismith drive in stoppage time, meaning Forest have still only been beaten once in 12 matches under their new boss.

Cooper said: “Brice had big moments and his performance was like a striker scoring the winning goal. He made a massive contribution to us getting a result that we didn’t want at the start of the game, but one that was forced upon us.

“The penalty save was brilliant but the one at the end looked unbelievable and he got a round of applause in the dressing room afterwards. The life of a goalkeeper has ups and downs and this game will have been a real up for him and he should be proud of himself.”

Cooper also felt the penalty award and Colback’s consequent dismissal were harsh, whilst arguing that his side should have been given a spot-kick of their own when referee Jeremy Simpson judged Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu’s foul on Philip Zinckernagel to have been marginally outside the box.

The ex-Swansea chief added: “First of all, I didn’t think it was a corner and, then, if you are going to give penalties for that, you will be giving a lot of them.

“But he’s high on stats for yellows and reds, so he was true to form. I also think everyone saw the penalty we thought we should have had.”

Luton manager Nathan Jones, meanwhile, lamented the lack of a cutting edge, which he feels is preventing his team from becoming a top-six outfit.

“We are a good side and we’ve shown that here,” he declared. “Before the sending-off we were comfortable, our shape was good and we were good defensively.

“We just needed to show a bit of quality but, being realistic, we haven’t got the budget for a (Aleksandar) Mitrovic, (Dominic) Solanke or a Harry Wilson. The stats show that we’re creating enough chances and keeping the ball well enough, but I’m sick of looking at the numbers.

“We had a penalty and didn’t score it. I also think we should have had another two, but he was never going to give them.

“We got a point against the ex-European champions, which isn’t too bad, but it was two dropped really. The players are giving me everything, but certain moments are stopping us being a top-six team with a bottom-three budget.

“We pinned them in for long spells but, with the chance we had and other situations around the box, a team like Fulham would have scored three or four.”