Nottingham Forest Under 23s’ winning run was brought to a halt by Birmingham City Under 23s as they lost 2-1 in the Premier League Cup at the Impact Arena.
A late Forest surge in the second-half, which included a stunning strike from substitute Ethan Dekel, was not enough to prevent defeat as two early second-half goals from Birmingham City's Olly McCoy and Dom Bernard condemned The Reds to defeat.
Gareth Holmes made four changes to the side that beat Barnsley Under 23s 4-2 on Friday evening with Liam Bossin, Kieran Hayes, Keith Asare and Victor Sodeinde coming into the side for Tim Erlandsson, Anel Ahmedhodzic, Ethan Stewart and the suspended Aaron Smith.
It was the visitors who had the first real effort when space opened up in the middle for midfielder Olly McCoy. McCoy powered forward, lined up the shot and fired it into the hands of Liam Bossin who eventually held it.
The Reds were looking to utilise the pace of Virgil Gomis in attack and he was close to creating an opportunity when Keith Asare played him in down the right-hand side. Gomis beat his man but over hit the cross which went out for a throw.
Birmingham City came close on 18 minutes when a weighted cross from Remeao Hutton was met by Olly McCoy but he could only head over from close range. The Blues nearly broke the deadlock moments later when a low cross from Wes Harding was eventually cleared as the visitors tried to heap on the pressure.
Forest were struggling to keep hold of the ball but they did look threatening on 29 minutes. Toby Edser intercepted the ball before his ball to Lewis Walters freed up some space for the latter who danced his way into the box, looking for the shot. The ball came back to Edser who lofted a cross to the back post which was eventually dealt with by the Birmingham defence.
Birmingham looked the more likely to score and they continued to build the pressure when Olly McCoy cut inside and curled a powerful effort towards goal which Bossin parried away. The Forest defence continued to remain strong however with a number of important blocks as The Reds went into the break level.
Early into the second-half and Forest came inches away from finding the opener on two separate occasions. A clever corner routine sent Toby Edser racing into the area but his low cross was fired narrowly over by Victor Sodeinde at the back post. Moments later and Virgil Gomis was bearing down on goal, but he dragged his shot just wide of the post.
But it was Birmingham City who scored the first goal of the contest when Olly McCoy netted for the visitors. Centre back Luke Maxwell raced into the area and pulled it back into a dangerous area. A rather unconvincing clearance played the ball to McCoy who lashed home an emphatic effort past Bossin to send his side into the lead.
The Blues were close to doubling their lead just two minutes later when Remeao Hutton whipped a cross towards the back post with McCoy failing to turn the ball home. But they soon doubled their lead through Dom Bernard. A deep cross was headed back across goal by Wes Harding with Bernard on hand to sweep it into the bottom right corner off the post.
Forest defender Alex Iacovitti was lucky not to be punished on 61 minutes when he was dispossessed by Kyle McFarlane but Reds 'keeper Liam Bossin was quick off his line and produced a fine stop to deny the striker. Ethan Dekel then came on for Forest, replacing Keith Asare.
Toby Edser was trying to make things happen for The Reds in the final third and he was unlucky not to score when Birmingham goalkeeper Jake Weaver pulled off a clever stop to deny him as he danced his way into the box.
Forest were struggling to create anything but that all changed when Ethan Dekel scored a stunning effort from 25-yards out on 73 minutes. Dekel picked up the ball, found some space and lashed a stunning effort into the top right-hand corner to put The Reds back into the contest.
Forest came alive after the goal and looked likely to score an equaliser. First, Kieran Hayes made an impressive run into the box and put a teasing ball across the face of goal which Birmingham cleared. Moments later Virgil Gomis was inches away from equalising when he met a fantastic delivery but put his effort inches over the crossbar.
Kieran Hayes was then shown a yellow card for a cynical foul before Gareth Holmes' men had appeals for a penalty waived away five minutes later when the goal-scorer Dekel went down inside the area as Forest came closer to finding a leveller. They finally thought they had it through Lewis Walters when he raced through and prodded an effort towards goal but his effort was cleared off the line by Birmingham defender Geraldo Bajrami.
Tensions started to rise going into the final five minutes with Lewis Walters going into the book before Birmingham City defender Luke Maxwell was shown a yellow after a robust challenge on Virgil Gomis. Lewis Walters was then shown a second yellow card with just seconds remaining on the clock after he got a challenge all wrong.
Forest: Bossin, Hayes, Coveney, Iacovitti, Otim, Taylor, Edser (c), Asare (Dekel 62'), Sodiende (Sanders 72'), Walters, Gomis
Unused subs: Barnes, Erlandsson, Ram
Goal: Dekel 73'
Bookings: Hayes 81', Walters 86', 90'
Sent off: Walters 90'
Birmingham: Weaver, Harding (c), Martin, Maxwell, Burke (Bajrami 70'), Bernard, Hutton, O'Keefe, McFarlane (Clarke 74'), Bailey (McDonald 80'), McCoy
Unused subs: Anderson
Goals: McCoy 53', Bernard 57'
Booking: Martin 83', Maxwell 90'
Referee: Danny Middleton