Nottingham Forest left the West Country empty handed after slipping to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Bristol City.Second half goals from Steven Davies and Marvin Elliott settled the contest at Ashton Gate.
The Reds will look to return to winning ways next Saturday when they entertain Bolton at The City Ground in the first game of Billy Davies’ second spell as manager.
Davies officially begins work on Monday, so it was left to caretaker boss Rob Kelly to take charge of team affairs against a City side led by ex-Forest manager Sean O’Driscoll.
Kelly made three changes to the side beaten at Birmingham a week earlier with Adlene Guedioura, Radi Majewski and Dexter Blackstock recalled to the starting line-up.
Guedioura, now fully recovered from the virus he picked up while on African Cup of Nations duty with Algeria, replaced Guy Moussi; Majewski was preferred to Henri Lansbury and Blackstock got the nod over Darius Henderson.
City included three ex-Reds in their starting line-up in Brendan Moloney, Greg Cunningham and Paul Anderson.
It was Forest who were quickest out of the blocks and they could have gone in front with just four minutes on the clock. Billy Sharp made space for himself down the left but when he sent over a cross Blackstock failed to test ‘keeper Tom Heaton from close range.
Majewski created another opening for Blackstock two minutes later with a break from midfield but the striker was unable to get his shot on target.
Karl Darlow made an outstanding save to deny Jon Stead as he dived low to his right to get a firm hand to the striker’s fiercely struck shot from the edge of the area.
A breakdown in communication between Heaton and Liam Fontaine almost created an opening for Sharp as they failed to deal with a long ball forward but the loan star failed to capitalise.
The same applied to Blackstock, who planted a close-range header from Dan Harding’s pin-point cross from the left against the City bar.
That was the best chance of the first half, although former Forest loanee Cunningham tested Darlow with a fizzing drive from 25 yards out and Anderson squandered an opportunity six minutes before the break.
The winger found himself on the end of Stead’s cross from the left but, with just Darlow to beat, he instead elected to try and find Davies which gave Reds skipper Danny Collins the chance to clear.
Sharp had the ball in the net at the start of the second half – he converted from close range after Heaton had failed to hold Guedioura’s long-range effort – but the flag had already gone up for offside.
Forest were forced to make a change just moments later with Elliott Ward replacing Dan Harding and seconds later they were behind as Davies fired home, albeit with the aid of a deflection, from a partially cleared corner.
Cunningham became the first player to go into referee Craig Pawson’s book for a clumsly challenge on Gonzalo Jara Reyes.
City had Heaton to thank as he kept their lead intact just before the hour mark. Cohen sent over a cross from the right and Sharp did everything right with his backpost volley but the home side’s No.1 blocked superbly with his legs.
To add insult to injury for The Reds they fell further behind in the 62nd minute as Elliott planted a header from Stephen Pearson’s free-kick on the right beyond the reach of Darlow.
Forest responded by making a second change as Simon Cox joined the action at the expense of Jara Reyes.
Alert defending by Moloney denied Blackstock a sight of goal as he put Cohen’s teasing cross from the left behind for a corner as the visitors pressed for a lifeline.
Kelly made his third and final change 11 minutes from time as Lewis McGugan replaced Majewski and he immediately went close with a shot from the edge of the area.
Blackstock tested Heaton with a header from Reid’s left-wing cross but the City ‘keeper was equal to the task.
Forest: Darlow, Jara Reyes (Cox 67'), Collins (c), Halford, Harding (Ward 49'), Cohen, Guedioura, Majewski (McGugan 79'), Reid, Blackstock, Sharp
Subs not used: Al-Rashidi, Gillett, Henderson, Lansbury
Booking: Halford 61'
Bristol City: Heaton, Fontaine, Nyatanga, Stead, Kelly, Pearson, Davies (Burns 76'), Cunningham, Moloney, Anderson (Foster 87'), Elliott (c)
Subs not used: Gerken, Mark Wilson, James Wilson, Reid, Bryan
Scorers: Davies 50', Elliott 62'
Booking: Cunningham 52'
Referee: Craig Pawson
Attendance: 13,768 (Away: 1,405)