Garry Birtles has lauded the impact of Super Eagles ace Taiwo Awoniyi as the Reds were beaten at Arsenal. The striker stepped off the bench on his return from injury to score for Forest in the 2-1 defeat.
Awoniyi didn’t feature during much of pre-season at all. He picked up an injury against Leeds and missed the overseas friendlies against PSV and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Perhaps, for Steve Cooper, it was a case of keeping him fresh, however. Awoniyi was a surprise inclusion in the squad on Saturday and he was fit enough to play for 20 minutes.
Awoniyi was in fine form at the end of last season as Forest secured Premier League survival. Now, he’s picked up where he left off and hopefully, there are more goals to come for him.
Birtles, a Forest legend was very impressed with the Nigerian striker at the weekend. He felt it was perhaps a shame that he couldn’t come on earlier, with the Reds chasing the game.
He told the Garibaldi Red Podcast: “The second half Steve changed it well. Maybe, it would have been nice to see the two lads come on earlier; Elanga and Awoniyi.
“When Awoniyi came on, that goal was just brilliant. You talk about Saka’s goal it was great but I was just so impressed with the desire of Awoniyi when he came on.
“I just watched him and he sprinted the length of that field, it was unreal. The ground he made up was absolutely stunning. The final ball for Elanga was just perfect for a striker, it was terrific.”