Nottingham Forest continued their excellent start to the season with a 3-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at The City Ground this afternoon.
Goals from Jamie Mackie, Andy Reid and Henri Lansbury handed The Reds a fourth successive win, while some sterling defensive work ensured them a third consecutive league clean sheet.
Manager Billy Davies made two changes to the side which won at Blackburn last weekend. The match-winner at Ewood Park, Darius Henderson, was left out completely and replaced by the ever-versatile Greg Halford. Mackie was also handed a starting berth in place of Jamie Paterson, who took his place on the bench.
It took Forest just two minutes to take the lead. Radoslaw Majewski picked out Mackie’s run superbly and the forward composed himself before sliding his first goal for the club across Adam Bogdan and into the bottom corner.
Wanderers responded well but Forest were keen to extend their lead.
On ten minutes, neat play between Reid, Mackie and Chris Cohen saw the captain’s low cross held well by the Hungarian keeper.
The game was being played at a frantic pace and on 18 minutes the match had its first booking - Bolton’s Jay Spearing for a late lunge on Reid.
Both sides were jostling for dominance and after Craig Davies had nodded wide of Karl Darlow’s goal, Mackie couldn’t twist sufficiently to beat Bogdan from a difficult angle.
Mackie was proving a constant menace up front, harrying The Trotters’ defence at every opportunity, while both Jack Hobbs and Kelvin Wilson, who was making his City Ground return, were making some important challenges to halt the visitors’ lively attacking play.
Bolton had the crossbar rattling just after the half hour courtesy of a David Wheater header, but the assistant had his flag raised for offside.
Undeterred, Wanderers next went close through Rob Hall who drilled a left-footed effort across goal and a yard wide of the far post.
It was a fiery, physical affair and on another day Medo Kamara could have been dismissed for a lunge on Reid on halfway. Forest were furious with the challenge but referee Mark Haywood limited his punishment to a yellow.
Mr Haywood was having a busy afternoon - next in the notebook was Darren Pratley, whose flailing arm had caught Adlene Guedioura in the face in the first of three added minutes at the end of an entertaining half.
And with seconds to play before the break, Reid, annoyed that he hadn’t been awarded a free-kick after being pushed by Mark Tierney, fouled Medo from behind and was yellow-carded.
Half-time provided brief respite for everyone, but within five minutes of the second half Forest had doubled their lead.
Mackie linked up well with Majewski and the Pole picked out Reid in the middle with a low cross. The Irishman steadied himself before hammering it beyond Bogdan on the bounce.
Bolton nearly halved the deficit immediately in bizarre circumstances. A high ball into the area looked certain to be claimed by Darlow but the spin of the ball took it in the opposite direction, leaving the keeper stranded. Pratley rose highest but could only nod wide with Cohen covering on the line.
The Reds went straight down the other end and went agonisingly close to putting the game beyond doubt. Halford, who had acquitted himself well up front all afternoon, raced into the channel to latch on to a long ball. Taking it in his stride, he carried the ball into the box and fired an effort across goal. Cruelly, it bounced off the inside of the post and was cleared.
Matters got even worse for Wanderers on 53 minutes when Pratley was handed his second booking for a late challenge on Cohen. The referee had initially played advantage but gave the midfielder his marching orders at the next stoppage.
That prompted Bolton manager Dougie Freedman in to two changes - Jermaine Beckford for Davies and Sanmi Odelusi for Hall.
The substitutions did nothing to halt Forest’s flow - Mackie shot over before seeing an effort blocked on the hour, and The Reds had a third shortly afterwards.
Halford’s whipped cross from the right flashed all the way across goal and Lansbury ducked at the back post to nod home in front of The Trent End.
Forest’s pressure was incessant and Eric Lichaj was desperately unlucky not to make it four. He showed quick feet to cut back on to his left at the corner of the area and whipped an effort across goal and just wide of Bogdan’s far post.
Mackie was given a standing ovation as he was replaced by Matt Derbyshire with a quarter of an hour to play.
The substitute was immediately involved - he raced down the right and sent a low cross towards Halford at the back post, only to see it cut out by Baptiste.
Ishmael Miller then took the place of Halford, who was given a tremendous reception by the 22,000-strong crowd.
Forest were completely in control and with eight minutes to play Reid smashed a free-kick over the crossbar, before David Wheater headed Chung-Yong Lee’s header wide at the back post.
Djamal Abdoun was then handed his Forest debut with six minutes to play - Henri Lansbury made way.
Lee, perhaps frustrated after not being given room to breathe by Cohen all afternoon, was then booked for a foul on Lichaj as the clock wound down.
Four minutes of added time were indicated - the first of which saw Guedioura fire wide on the half-volley after Abdoun’s neat chest-down.
The remaining minutes passed without incident and the match ended 3-0 to The Reds.
Forest: Darlow, Lichaj, Wilson, Hobbs, Cohen(c), Guedioura, Lansbury (Abdoun 85'), Majewski, Reid, Halford (Miller 81'), Mackie (Derbyshire 76')
Subs not used: De Vries, Harding, Collins, Paterson
Scorers: Mackie 2', Reid 50', Lansbury 65'
Booking: Reid 45'
Bolton: Bogdan, Baptiste, Knight (c), Wheater, Tierney, Medo, Spearing, Hall (Odelusi 57'), Chung-Yong, Pratley, C Davies (Beckford 57')
Subs not used: Lonergan, Moritz, Ream, Mears, Eaves
Bookings: Spearing 17', Kamara 37', Pratley 45', Lee 87'
Sent off: Pratley 53' (second bookable offence)
Referee: Mark Haywood
Attendance: 22,306 (Away: 1,188)