With Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest side heading into Wednesday night’s fixture on the back of a promising first performance under the 41-year-old manager last weekend, the Reds would certainly have been hoping for yet another fine display, and perhaps even their first win, under the leadership of the Welshman at Barnsley.
And Forest did not disappoint, as second-half goals Philip Zinckernagel, Brennan Johnson and Lewis Grabban helped to secure a highly impressive turnaround at Oakwell, after Cauley Woodrow has given the hosts the lead in the 20th minute of the match, with the Garibaldi running out 3-1 winners.
The result sees the Reds move out of the Championship relegation zone for the first time since matchday one, however, while the club’s small climb up the second tier standings will undoubtedly have delighted Cooper, the level of performances from a number of his players in the fixture is sure to have pleased the 41-year-old much more – none less so than the display of Philip Zinckernagel.
Having been deployed at centre-forward as a result of Lewis Grabban’s slight knock, the right-winger thrived in the position, playing an influential role in two of Forest’s goals on the night.
Indeed, over his 90 minutes on the pitch, the £2.7m-rated man scored one goal, registered one assist and created one big chance for his teammates, as well as hitting the target with all three of his shots at goal, making three key passes and completing one cross.
The 26-year-old who Xisco Munoz dubbed a “brilliant” talent also helped out in a defensive capacity, making one clearance, two tackles and winning four duels against the Tykes.
These returns saw the former Denmark U20 international receive a SofaScore match rating of 8.1, a score which, aside from fellow Nottingham Forest forward Brennan Johnson, bettered any other player to feature in the match.
As such, while Grabban’s pre-match fitness concerns initially looked to cause something of a selection headache for Cooper – as the 41-year-old’s other option up top, Lyle Taylor, has far from been in the best form of his life this season – Zinckernagel’s show-stealing performance as the lone striker will have given the Welshman confidence that the winger can more than fill in for the 33-year-old centre-forward if required.