Nottingham Forest v Derby Monday February 25, 19:45 Live on Sky Sports
Forest frustrated at Deepdale
Nottingham Forest manager Martin O'Neill was adamant his team were denied a perfectly good goal during their 0-0 stalemate with Preston last time out. Joe Lolley had the ball in the back of the net 12 minutes from time at Deepdale, only for the officials to rule it out for a foul on goalkeeper Declan Rudd, with O'Neill insisting the stopper simply fumbled the ball.
In a game of few clear-cut chances, Rudd made a fingertip save to deny Forest striker Lewis Grabban, who was through on goal just before half-time. Tricky Trees cat Costel Pantilimon made an equally good stop in the second-half as the game ended goalless with O'Neill frustrated his side were unable to pick up maximum points in Lancashire.
Forest have collected eight points from six games since the ex-Ireland boss arrived and come into this clash four points adrift of the play-off positions. Matty Cash is back available again but looks likely to start on the bench with Ben Watson expected to return to the starting XI having been rested at Preston. Leo Bonatini will hope for a recall.
Derby booed off in midweek
Derby's Championship play-off hopes were dented on Wednesday evening when Millwall departed Pride Park with a surprise 1-0 win. Home supporters booed their team off after an unimpressive performance that saw Millwall hit County on the counter-attack 20 minutes from time, scoring from the first shot on-target for either side in what was a drab affair.
Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer had to make a fine stop to keep out Fikayo Tomori's header in a frantic finish but the Rams were unable to regain parity and remain one place and two points outside the top-six. Frank Lampard can't have been pleased with what he saw with Derby registering their first on-target effort in the 92nd minute.
Lampard accepted County fell short on Wednesday in a display lacking creativity and a cutting edge. The Derby boss will hope to have Mason Mount and Tom Lawrence available again for Monday night and may look to freshen up his team having picked up a solitary success in four league fixtures, and three triumphs from their last 11 in the Championship.
The last two East Midlands derby meetings between these two ended goalless, extending an unbeaten six-game streak for Derby (W0-D3-L3) over their bitter rivals. That six-match winless run is Nottingham Forest's longest without victory over the Rams since 1914 and the Reds will be eager to arrest that record on Monday evening.
Nottingham Forest2.42 have W3-D4-L6 in their past 13 Championship matches since the start of December. However, the Reds have claimed top honours in three of their most recent four City Ground outings and boast a 50% win rate in front of their home supporters, including toppling Sheffield United and Leeds.
As already mentioned, Derby2.84 have delivered only W3-D5-L3 in their past 11 league contests. The Rams have picked up six victories from 16 on the road, although Frank Lampard's troops have taken maximum points away from Norwich and West Brom already this term, highlighting their potential for the big occasion.
Tight tussle awaits
Under 2.5 Goals has been chalked up as a 1.75 chance and it's difficult to oppose a low-scoring battle on Monday night. Nine (47%) of the last 19 duels between these two team concluded with no more than a solitary strike and the duo have already played 16/65 (25%) collective draws featuring no more than two strikes.
A repeat - essentially supporting the 0-0 and 1-1 correct scores via Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi market - is rated a 3/1 shot.
Robert Jones has been handed the whistle for the City Ground showdown and he's dished out 84 cards across his 23 league matches thus far in 2018/19 at a rate of 3.65 per-game. The Merseysider has only issued two red cards in that sample, although one arrived in the Second City derby when Aston Villa welcomed Birmingham.
Considering there has been a red card shown in five of the last seven Championship meetings between the arch-rivals, plus the extra edge with the two teams vying for a play-off position this season, I'm happy to back a red card being flashed on Monday night at 4/1.
A Red Card to be shown @ 4/1 in Nottingham Forest v Derby