Henderson saves Rice penalty to seal historic win after Awoniyi strike at rocking City ground


FOUR PAGES of Nottingham Forest’s matchday programme was dedicated to showing off TWELVE of their new arrivals and in a match Henderson saves the penalty and seal historic win.

And one of them ended Forest’s 23-year wait to rewrite history as club-record signing Taiwo Awoniyi scored their first goal back in the big-time at a sun-kissed City Ground.

Another new face in Dean Henderson should also be heralded after saving Declan Rice’s 64th-minute penalty.

The irony is, since publishing those programme pages, Forest have completed two more deals for Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate and Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis.

And further ink needs to be put aside for Brighton’s Neal Maupay in the coming days.

Fifteen in total with no sign of stopping in one of the most hectic and chaotic transfer windows in Premier League history.

And if Kouyate, Dennis and Maupay have a similar impact to the 12 already loving life in the top flight, Steve Cooper’s men could make this even more of a campaign to cherish.

In the space that was left in the programme, boss Cooper spoke of doing more than just making up the numbers after guiding them back to the Prem for the first time since 1999.

They certainly proved that against West Ham in a real thriller of a battle in the August heat that harped back to the rough-and-ready days when Forest were regulars at this level.

Awoniyi – a £17m buy from Union Berlin – bullied and tormented the visiting back four before his fortuitous goal with seconds left of the first half.

And it could have been more just after the break had Brennan Johnson’s chip not been ruled out for offside.

The Hammers had their moments. Said Benrahma had a strike chalked off by VAR moments before Awoniyi’s effort, before he and Pablo Fornals both smacked the bar.

But in complete contrast to Forest, David Moyes’ struggling side are in desperate need of freshening up with no new signings in their starting XI and two losses from two.

Fifteen incomings? Just a couple more would do for Moyes despite £30m striker Gianluca Scamacca and £17.5m winger Maxwel Cornet coming off the bench to no avail in the second half.

Flashbacks to old faces dominated the build-up, looking back to the first televised game of the Prem era, also on a Sunday in August 1992, as Teddy Sheringham’s goal saw Forest beat Liverpool.

But it was new faces that dominated Forest’s starting line-up. Only three names from last season remained in Johnson, Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna.

Two new additions in Awoniyi and Orel Mangala also started after being on the bench for the opening day defeat away at Newcastle.

The atmosphere was electric at kick-off as Forest’s ditty Mull of Kintyre burst a few eardrums, although you could still hear the away end’s disdain for Jesse Lingard who snubbed a return to east London this summer.

The plan to throw fake notes onto the pitch was executed early on, but bizarrely at Neco Williams when he went to take a corner. Mistaken identity perhaps?

Rice seemed to get the message, picking up an early yellow for hauling down Lingard on the counter as any fears Forest’s chemistry and cohesion may be off with so many new names was quickly quashed.

They failed to have a single shot on target at St James’ Park but were making up for it here as Awoniyi came close on several occasions.

West Ham found their feet with Benrahma’s curling effort being palmed away by Henderson and Tomas Soucek was denied a rebound by Harry Toffolo.

And they were soon celebrating following a speedy counter started and finished by Benrahma thanks to Rice’s neat pick-out.

VAR rightly intervened however, spotting Michail Antonio barge over Mangala earlier in the phase and referee Robert Jones seconded that at the monitor.

Forest responded with a legitimate goal. Lewis O’Brien jinked into the box, Lingard fluffed his attempt and Ben Johnson’s block bounced off Awoniyi’s knee and in. Cue the noise.

Just like the first, the second half was both mesmeric and frantic as Fornals clattered the bar with a long-range effort and Henderson acrobatically stopped Soucek’s follow-up.

VAR was busy, chalking off Johnson’s dink over Lukasz Fabianski for straying offside, with the Polish keeper then doing well to get in the way of Moussa Niakhate’s header.

But after Benrahma hit the bar again with a free-kick, Forest conceded a needless spot-kick as McKenna’s outstretched arm blocked Soucek’s shot despite of Henderson presence.

The monitor was used once more and skipper Rice stepped up only to produce a tame side-footer.

A fuming Moyes acted by bringing on Scamacca and then Cornet for a late rally.

It barely materialised, Zouma coming closest as his header was brilliantly cleared off the line by Williams as the hosts clung on. Cue more noise.

Forest are back, and the Premier League is all the richer for it.

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