Dean Smith defended Orjan Nyland after the Aston Villa goalkeeper conceded five goals from five shots on target from Nottingham Forest on Wednesday. In the midweek 5-5 draw, Nyland faced eight shots over the 90 minutes, three of which missed the target, but he failed to make a save and may have been at fault for two goals.
The 28-year-old stood little chance of preventing Lewis Grabban and Joao Carvalho’s close-range efforts in the first six minutes of the game, but he wasn’t too convincing when closing down Matty Cash for Forest’s third goal and was surprisingly unmoved for Joe Lolley’s effort from distance. Forest’s late equaliser from Grabban saw Nyland beaten too easily at the near post too.
Smith admitted two of the goals were preventable but still believes the criticism that gets levelled at Nyland is too “harsh”. He said to Birmingham Live: “I think the criticism he has received is harsh. On Wednesday, he didn’t have a chance for the first three goals. They were big chances for any team and I would expect us to score them against any goalkeeper.
“The fourth one (Lolley’s goal), you analyse it and see where it has gone into the net. I looked back this morning and you think: ‘I want my goalkeeper to get a hand on it’. That said, I cannot get away from the fact I was right behind it on Wednesday and as soon as it left his foot I thought: ‘That is a goal’.
“I can’t take that initial reaction away and the feeling I had on the night. It was a super strike and sat up nicely for him. The one Orjan will probably be disappointed with his the fifth one, even though it takes a flick off Axel Tuanzebe’s heel.
“It was a tough one to react for, but you don’t want to see it go in. Up until then, at Derby County for example, he has pulled of great saves and looked more commanding. I think the criticism is unfair.”
Nyland has made 17 Championship appearances for Villa this season since his summer move from FC Ingolstadt. The Norwegian international has conceded 26 goals, keeping only four clean sheets, and may have an uncertain future as a result of his struggles between the sticks – Villa have been linked with a move for Tom Heaton recently.
Smith has jumped to Nyland’s defence, but he may be considering his goalkeeper options when the winter transfer window opens.