Nottingham Forest strengthened their grip on a playoff place with a 3-0 victory at Huddersfield Town’s John Smith’s Stadium this evening.
Two second-half goals from Jamie Paterson, a header and a neat finish, were rounded off by substitute Darius Henderson as The Reds comfortably extended their unbeaten run to 16 matches.
Billy Davies made two changes to the side which drew at Blackpool last weekend. Radoslaw Majewski came in for Gonzalo Jara, while Paterson replaced Jamie Mackie.
Joel Lynch formed part of a three-man defence for The Terriers, and the former Red was called into action on six minutes, diverting Majewski’s shot out for a corner. Andy Reid’s inswinging cross was met at the near post by Jack Hobbs but the centre back couldn’t head the ball goalwards under pressure.
Forest had started the brighter of the two sides and tested Lynch again on 11 minutes. Rafik Djebbour let the ball run for Paterson who looked likely to latch onto it in the area, only for Lynch to slide in and make a superb last-ditch tackle.
The visitors pressed again two minutes later and Paterson was again involved, dinking a lovely ball over the top for Simon Cox to run onto. The Republic of Ireland international watched the ball bounce before shooting towards goal. He miscued his effort, however, and the ball went harmlessly wide.
But for a couple of corners Huddersfield didn’t threaten properly until the the 21st minute, when they were left to rue some defiant work from Karl Darlow. Jonathan Hogg raced onto a long ball over the top and Darlow opted to come out to challenge for the ball. It bounced up and the pair clashed heavily as they went up for the header, Darlow nodding it cleanly out for a throw and leaving his opponent requiring treatment.
More stern defensive work, this time by Jack Hobbs, frustrated The Terriers two minutes later. Nahki Wells took the ball away from Jamaal Lascelles but was blocked off brilliantly by Hobbs as he raced towards goal.
The visitors responded through Reid, who sent the ball harmlessly wide from long range on 28 minutes, before it was Lascelles’ turn to make an impressive block in his own box, getting his toe to the ball as Wells cut into the area ominously.
Clear-cut chances had been hard to come by for both sides and Forest were left frustrated again on 36 minutes. Paterson received the ball from Reid on the edge of the area and showed quick feet to keep the move alive. He poked the ball to Cox in the area but the striker couldn’t quite wriggle free of Huddersfield’s defence and the chance was gone.
Terriers forward James Vaughan was forced off through injury shortly before half-time, making way for Danny Ward, and just before the break Forest came close to opening the scoring.
Reid spread the ball to Halford, who played the ball into the feet of Majewski. The Pole took one touch before whipping a left-footed effort towards goal. The ball flew just wide of Smithies’ far post.
The keeper was equal to a tamer Majewski effort in the first of three added minutes at the end of the half before the hosts came close to taking a lead into the break.
Darlow did well to punch away a cross from the right, but the ball dropped to Oliver Norwood on the edge of the area. He did well to set himself before firing the ball inches wide of the post.
Guy Moussi made way for Jara at half-time and within five minutes of the restart Forest had a chance.
Cox sprung the offside trap to latch onto Reid’s cute ball down the left but his shot lacked accuracy, bobbling tamely across the face of goal.
The hosts responded immediately through Paul Dixon, who cut in from the left before firing the ball over from the edge of the area.
It was proving to be an end-to-end start to the second half as Forest cut open their hosts once more a minute later. More neat work from Reid saw him send Djebbour through one-on-one. The Algerian opened his body up to take the shot on his right but couldn’t send the ball past the well-positioned Smithies.
The frenetic pattern continued as Huddersfield created another opening almost immediately. Dixon was the instigator again, taking the ball past Halford and into the area. The angle was always against him, however, and he could only send the ball into the side-netting.
Moments later Reid latched onto Djebbour’s flick-on and fashioned a chance for himself with some neat ball juggling in the left-hand side of the area. He volleyed the ball towards goal but Smithies stood firm to hold on to it at his near post.
Again the hosts responded straight away, this time through Ward. The substitute carried the ball across goal before shooting with the outside of his left foot. He didn’t quite get the required bend on the ball to send it into the top corner.
The forward went even closer a minute later, moving cleverly towards the near post before nodding the ball off the post from a cross.
Forest quickly set about making their own inroads down the flanks. Reid ran the ball down the left, showing excellent strength and determination to fend off a defender and cross the ball enticingly into the middle. Djebbour couldn’t quite leap high enough to make significant contact with it.
But it wasn’t to matter as, a minute later, The Reds had the lead. Danny Fox picked out Paterson perfectly with a cross from the left and the former Walsall man sent the ball into the bottom corner of the net with a neat header.
Darius Henderson replaced Djebbour on 68 minutes and, shortly after play resumed, his fellow substitute Jara had to be alert to halt Dixon. The wing-back had intercepted a pass down the left and hurtled towards goal, only to be blocked off by Jara who had made up a lot of ground to close him down.
Huddersfield, boosted by the arrival of substitute Sean Scannell, were imposing themselves on the game as it entered its final stages, but Forest had a good opportunity to double their lead with 12 minutes left.
With the game stretched, Majewski led a Forest break before laying the ball off to Reid, who in turn played it to Paterson. The goalscorer cut onto his right foot but curled the ball high over the bar from just inside the area.
But he made amends on 82 minutes. Darlow’s long ball was flicked on by Henderson and Paterson, who had timed his run to perfection, showed great composure under pressure from Tommy Smith to shuffle the ball onto his right before passing it beyond Smithies and into the net.
Jamie Mackie replaced Cox shortly afterwards, but it was a different substitute who would put the icing on the cake for the visitors.
Henderson latched onto a poor backpass, rounded Smithies and slid the ball over the line in front of Forest’s delighted 1,701-strong travelling contingent.
Three minutes of added time were indicated, during which Huddersfield wasted a free-kick in a promising shooting position, and Forest saw the game out comfortably to record a convincing win on their travels.
Forest: Darlow, Halford, Lascelles, Hobbs, Fox, Moussi (Jara 46'), Reid (c), Paterson, Majewski, Cox (Mackie 84'), Djebbour (Henderson 68')
Subs not used: De Vries, Harding, Collins, Derbyshire
Scorers: Paterson 63', 82', Henderson 89'
Booking: Halford 72'
Huddersfield: Smithies (c), Lynch, Gerrard, Smith, Dixon, Hogg, Clayton, Norwood (Scannell 70'), Hammill, Wells (Paterson 79'), Vaughan (Ward 38')
Subs not used: Bennett, Woods, Clarke, Southern
Bookings: Vaughan 20', Clayton 59'
Referee: Nigel Miller