There was no “new manager rebound” at Southampton. Things quickly went from bad to worse for Nathan Jones, whose team remains rooted at the foot of the Premier League and the Welshman is jeered by his own supporters in his fourth league match, all of which ended in defeat.
It was a game Jones had to win to win over the club’s supporters, and one he couldn’t afford to lose, but Forest secured their first away win of the season with Taiwo Awoniya’s goal midway through the first half.
That’s six consecutive losses for the Saints, who missed a shot on target and are four points off safety. In this match, it has been exactly one year since Sport Republic took control of the club, but their investment seems to be very much at risk.
Southampton fans can be forgiven for thinking that the entertainment at St Mary’s is currently taking place before kick-off. An intricate light show and a moving interpretation Oh when the saints played by the local brass band was unable to hide the dangerous reality the club found itself on the pitch.
Their 2022 form placed them 90th out of 92 clubs in the top four in English football, and their six-point return at St Mary’s this season is the worst in the Premier League.
Not that Forest’s away results have been much better – a measly two points and one goal is all Steve Cooper’s team has achieved away from the City Ground.
Another notable feature of the match was the appointment of Bhupinder Singh Gill as one of the assistant referees, the first time a Punjabi Sikh had held that role in the top flight.
Had Che Adams scored a few more of the many good chances presented to him this season, Southampton would have been in a much more comfortable position. In the seventh minute, he again shot wastefully beyond the far post from a clever pass from Kyle Walker-Peters, which was a bright start from Jones.
In the 12th minute forest hit the crossbar with his first significant attack. Awoniyi avoided the offside trap and crossed for Ryan Yates, whose shot attempt freed Brennan Johnson in the area where he hit the post, but he certainly should have scored.
Southampton struggled to score from open play, but James Ward-Prowse had scored in the previous two matches from set pieces. In the 20th minute he hit a free kick from 25 meters.
There were few displays of quality, but Lyanco’s disastrous loss of possession allowed Johnson to run freely for goal before crossing in for Awoniya to strike in a simple finish.
Things soon took a turn for the worse for Jones, who then lost German national defender Armel Bell-Kotchap to a knee injury, being replaced by Duje Caleta-Car.
There was plenty of mockery from the home supporters as the players left the pitch at half-time, while the visiting contingent was busily serenaded by their own manager, Steve Cooper.
The spirit, if not quality, shown in the draw against Chelsea reappeared at St Mary’s, although Forest hardly needed to sweat in the second half, with their supporters taunting Jones by chanting “You’ll be sacked in the morning.”
As the game drew to a close, the atmosphere became increasingly toxic. Many supporters left the pitch before the match-ending whistle, but when it came, shouts of “you don’t know what you’re doing” were directed at Jones as he was whistled in the tunnel.