Nottingham Forest secured a superb 2-0 win at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium this afternoon.
Simon Cox and Jamie Mackie sent The Reds into the break 2-0 up and David Nugent missed a second-half penalty.
Billy Davies made three changes to the side that faced Blackpool last weekend. Andy Reid returned to the line-up after a back issue meant he was left out against his former club, Jamie Paterson was handed his first start since the Capital One Cup match at Burnley in September and Cox, who had scored in his previous two matches against The Foxes since joining Forest, took his place up front. Gonzalo Jara reverted to right back as Eric Lichaj dropped to the bench. Darius Henderson also had to settle for a place among the substitutes, while Djamal Abdoun missed out altogether after being red-carded against Blackpool.
Leicester had the first shot at goal through Anthony Knockaert on three minutes. The Frenchman received the ball on the edge of Forest’s area and curled his shot wide of Karl Darlow’s goal.
The hosts had started the game with purpose, but over-exuberance landed two of their players in referee Lee Mason’s notebook early on. Marcin Wasilewski was the first after he lunged in two-footed on Jack Hobbs. The Pole made no contact with the former Leicester defender and Mr Mason deemed a booking sufficient punishment. Knockaert joined him minutes later for waving an imaginary card in the referee’s face after Leicester had won a free-kick in the middle.
It had been a lively start for the winger, and on 12 minutes he almost unlocked the door. His excellent delivery from a central free-kick found Nugent, who flicked his header towards goal. Darlow tipped over superbly.
And it was Knockaert again on 15 minutes as he wriggled his way to the byline. His dinked cross sailed over Darlow and found Lloyd Dyer waiting at the back post. Dyer’s first touch evaded him at the crucial moment and he could only scuff his second attempt into the side-netting.
Forest successfully slowed the pace after that, but The Foxes carved out another golden opportunity on 26 minutes.
Knockaert’s left-footed inswinger from the corner of the area found the head of Nugent once again, but the experienced striker could only nod over from close range.
And The Reds punished Leicester’s wastefulness just after the half-hour mark. Andy Reid’s superb reverse ball sent Paterson into the area. The midfielder jinked cleverly onto his left and saw his shot blocked by Wes Morgan. Mackie nipped in ahead of Kasper Schmeichel to roll the ball to Cox, who guided the ball home despite the efforts of the defenders on the line.
The hosts sought an immediate response and nearly got one courtesy of Jeff Schlupp. He met a long throw with an acrobatic effort but could only watch on as it sailed over the angle between Darlow’s post and crossbar.
But Forest refused to succumb to the pressure. After Lansbury had benefited from another cute reverse pass from Reid, Schmeichel palmed the former Arsenal man’s effort out for a corner at his near post. Jamaal Lascelles leapt superbly at the back post to knock down Reid’s subsequent delivery, Lansbury’s shot was blocked and it spilled for Mackie who finished into the roof of the net.
The visitors were teaching their hosts a lesson in clinical finishing, but they had an astute piece of defending to thank for preserving their two-goal lead almost straight after the restart. Schlupp raced down the right and cut the ball back beautifully for Nugent. Lascelles positioned himself perfectly to block when it looked certain the striker would score.
Lascelles had given an assured performance, but after being booked for kicking the ball away he was replaced at half-time by Greg Halford, while Leicester emerged unchanged.
Forest took the second half by the scruff of the neck and Paterson almost made it three straight after kick-off. He curled a low effort across goal from the edge of the area but Schmeichel sprawled to his right to tip it away.
The Reds had contained their hosts brilliantly in the early stages of the second half, so much so that Nigel Pearson felt compelled to make a change just after the hour. Striker Jamie Vardy replaced Dyer. Paterson soon followed for Forest as he swapped with Darius Henderson.
It had been an excellent display of second-half resilience by Forest but their two-goal cushion was put under severe threat when Leicester were awarded a soft-looking penalty. Vaughan had nudged Danny Drinkwater from behind, but whether there was enough contact to bring the midfielder to ground just inside the area was debatable. It wasn’t to matter anyway, as Nugent clipped the crossbar with the spot kick and the ball sailed behind for a goal kick.
Cox was replaced by Lichaj with 15 minutes to play. The American filled in at right back as Jara moved inside.
Leicester had looked devoid of ideas in the second period and it took them until the 87th minute to next threaten Forest’s goal. Liam Moore was always stretching for his header at the back post and it went harmlessly wide.
Four minutes of added time were indicated, in the first of which Darlow dived to his right to turn Drinkwater’s dipping half-volley out for a corner. The set-piece was initially cleared, but Taylor-Fletcher missed a good chance to halve the deficit when Drinkwater whipped the ball into Forest’s area shortly after. Taylor-Fletcher couldn’t keep his glancing volley down and it soared over.
That was to be the final chance for either side as Forest took a valuable victory back along the A46.
Forest: Darlow, Jara, Hobbs, Lascelles (Halford 46'), Cohen (c), Lansbury, Vaughan, Reid, Paterson (Henderson 62'), Mackie, Cox (Lichaj 75')
Subs not used: Chalobah, Derbyshire, Majewski, de Vries
Scorers: Cox 31', Mackie 43'
Bookings: Lascelles 45', Cohen 84'
Leicester: Schmeichel, Moore, Wasilewski, Morgan (c), Konchesky, Knockaert (Hammond 68'), Drinkwater, King, Dyer (Vardy 61'), Nugent, Sclupp (Taylor-Fletcher 68')
Subs not used: James, Hopper, Miquel, Logan
Bookings: Wasilewski 8', Knockaert 10', Hammond 90'
Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 30,416 (Away: 3,320)