Nottingham Forest were beaten 3-0 by Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium this afternoon.
First-half goals from Joel Lynch and Nakhi Wells put The Reds on the back foot before Grant Holt added gloss to the scoreline early in the second half.
Thomas Ince was handed his debut two days after joining the club on loan from Hull City. He was given a right-wing berth, Chris Burke dropping to the bench, while Eric Lichaj, Danny Fox, Jamaal Lascelles and Henri Lansbury also came into the side after missing last weekend’s defeat against Blackburn.
Forest found themselves a goal down within a minute after conceding a throw-in down the left. Huddersfield took it long and Lynch leapt highest to head the ball across Darlow and into the keeper’s bottom left-hand corner.
It had been a strong start by the Terriers and they almost had a second goal when Harry Bunn made a strong run down the left, beating Robert Tesche and crossing the ball to the back post. Sean Scannell opted to compose himself before shooting, allowing Fox crucial time to get across to block his shot.
The Reds issued a response when Ince won the ball in Huddersfield’s half and worked the ball to Lansbury, who shifted it on to his right foot on the edge of the box before firing it towards goal. Alex Smithies did well to push it over, and was relieved to see Lascelles head the ball over the bar after David Vaughan’s dangerous corner.
But Town were celebrating again on 20 minutes when Wells stooped low to head the ball home after a dangerous cross from the left.
Michail Antonio had a chance to halve the deficit almost immediately after the restart but was unable to bring the ball under control with his chest after Mancienne had played an excellent long ball over the top.
Holt headed the ball over Darlow’s bar two minutes later, before quick-thinking from Antonio and Britt Assombalonga almost paid off when the latter darted beyond Town’s back line as the former prepared to take a throw-in. Assombalonga received the ball but couldn’t shirk the attentions of a covering defender, who helped smother the danger.
The Reds were enjoying their best spell of the game and Ince came close to scoring a debut goal on 28 minutes, taking the ball into the area and looking certain to score, only for Lynch to get across to make an heroic tackle. The ball came to Vaughan but the midfielder could only send it over from outside the area.
Ince was involved again four minutes later, showing excellent feet, pace and strength to get away from his marker but failing to generate sufficient power on his left-footed shot from 25 yards. Smithies held on to the ball comfortably.
But it was the home side who finished the half stronger, Bunn drawing a good save from Darlow with a stinging half-volley from the corner of the area.
And had Holt shown better composure after Mancienne missed his kick, the Terriers could have made it three. Forest were outnumbered but the forward rushed his cross, sending the ball out for a goal kick much to the dismay of the unmarked Huddersfield players in the middle.
There were no changes for either side at half-time and Forest came out fighting. Antonio led the charge, riding several challenges before playing a one-two with Assombalonga. Antonio, who had continued his run into the area, opted to shoot first time but could only direct the ball straight at Smithies.
Town had a chance of their own a minute later when Scannell crossed the ball dangerously from the right. Holt was the man in the middle, but he couldn’t position himself correctly to meet it.
But there was no such frustration for the front man on 54 minutes when he was picked out by Scannell on the edge of the area. Holt stroked the ball into the corner with consummate ease to make it 3-0.
Forest had a chance to pull a goal back two minutes later when Tesche was fouled 25 yards out, but Assombalonga could only fire the ball over the bar with the free-kick.
And, moments after Wells had skipped away from Mancienne before driving the ball just wide of Darlow’s near post, Assombalonga had a golden opportunity when he raced on to Lansbury’s through ball. The striker went through one-on-one with Smithies but the keeper spread himself well to make the save.
Stuart Pearce opted to make all three of his changes at once on the hour as Ben Osborn, Jack Hunt and Chris Burke replaced Vaughan, Lichaj and Tesche.
But any hope of a comeback was nearly dashed when Fox, who had earlier been booked for protesting with the referee, played a sloppy pass which Wells latched on to. Town worked the ball to Conor Coady, who drew an excellent save from Darlow with his shot from the edge of the area.
Forest nearly had their breakthrough on 73 minutes following a neat exchange between Antonio and Osborn. The former’s shot was well saved by Smithies, but the keeper could only push the ball in the direction of Ince. The loanee scampered to get there before his marker but could only send the ball into the side-netting.
The Reds came close again minutes later when Burke struck the ball sweetly towards goal from range. Cruelly, it crashed down off the crossbar and Town cleared the danger.
Further half-chances came and went for Forest, Assombalonga sending the ball over the bar twice before Hunt cut inside and shot straight at Smithies.
Jacob Butterfield almost made it four for the hosts as full-time neared, showing excellent pace to leave Forest’s defence in his wake before firing the ball harmlessly wide.
Burke tried his luck from distance again shortly before five minutes of added time were indicated, but his shot was saved low down by Smithies.
Hunt came close to a consolation with seconds remaining but saw his shot deflected over the crossbar - the final action of note on a disappointing afternoon for the visitors.
Forest: Darlow, Lichaj (Hunt 60'), Mancienne (c), Lascelles, Fox, Tesche (Burke 61'), Vaughan (Osborn 60'), Lansbury, Antonio, Ince, Assombalonga
Subs not used: De Vries, Harding, Paterson, Veldwijk
Bookings: Lichaj 37', Fox 68'
Smithies, Hudson (c), Scannell (Ward 87'), Butterfield, Coady, Holt (Paterson 90'), Robinson, Wells (Peltier 81'), Smith, Bunn, Lynch
Subs not used: Murphy, Dixon, Gerrard, Wallace
Goals: Lynch 1', Wells 20', Holt 54'
Booking: Coady 51'
Referee: Andy Davies
Attendance: 15,317 (3,011 away)