Nottingham Forest chalked up their fifth win in a row with a dramatic 3-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at The City Ground this afternoon.Two goals from Henri Lansbury and another strike from substitute Lewis McGugan put the game beyond doubt after Wolves had equalised through Matt Doherty.
Billy Davies named an unchanged side from the one which beat Ipswich in midweek. Greg Halford, who missed the last two games through suspension, and Billy Sharp, who was absent on Tuesday night because of a chest infection, were both named among the substitutes.
Unusually, The Reds kicked towards the Trent End in the first half and on three minutes they went close after good play down the right.
Andy Reid slipped Gonzalo Jara Reyes into the channel and his low cross skidded off the damp turf and evaded Kaspars Gorkss on its way just wide of Carl Ikeme’s post.
And Forest had the ball in the net on nine minutes after a brilliant run by Reid. His cross picked out Simon Cox at the back post but the striker, perhaps too eager to notch his first goal in 17 games, went too early and was flagged offside as he tapped it home.
Wolves had also enjoyed a number of purposeful attacks in the early stages but The Reds were carving out the better of the chances, and it was Radi Majewski’s turn to direct an effort at goal on 12 minutes. His right-footed effort from 22 yards skidded wide of the near post.
Eleven minutes later, Lansbury turned brilliantly on the edge of the Wolves area after some bright one-touch passing by the home side, but his shot was diverted over the bar and out for a corner by a determined visiting defence.
The visitors had a golden opportunity moments later. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake used his strength to tee-up Dave Edwards in the area. The midfielder found himself with plenty of time and space but he couldn’t set himself and fired hopelessly wide.
But Lansbury, who had been denied from the edge of the area minutes earlier, fired home the opener from similar range on 31 minutes.
It came as a result of patient build-up from The Reds. Majewski gave it to Cox in the left-hand channel, he opened the play out to Adlene Guedioura and the Algerian played a short square pass to Lansbury who fired through a sea of onrushing defenders and into Ikeme’s right-hand corner.
On 35 minutes, McGugan replaced Dexter Blackstock and the striker headed straight down the tunnel with an injury.
As play resumed, Jara’s foul 24 yards out presented Bakary Sako - who had earlier fired a free-kick straight into the wall from similar distance - with a chance to equalise.
The winger’s effort crashed off the bar and Bjorn Sigurdarson fired over on the rebound.
That was to be the final incident of an action-packed first half, and neither side made changes at the break.
Wolves had the first chance of the second half on 57 minutes. Elliott Ward lost his 50/50 with Edwards in midfield and the ex-Shrewsbury man threaded Ebanks-Blake into the area but the in-form front man could only fire into the side-netting with his weaker left foot.
The Reds responded just after the hour with a tremendous Reid run down the left. His tantalising cross was met acrobatically by McGugan but he could only fire a couple of yards over.
At the resultant stoppage, Majewski - who was inches away from meeting that cross by Reid - was replaced by Guy Moussi.
The visitors were level on 65 minutes, however. Doherty met Sako’s cross brilliantly and sent his header over Darlow and into the net.
But their lead was to last less than two minutes as Lansbury was again afforded too much time and space on the edge of the area to place a beautifully precise right-footed effort beyond a helpless Ikeme from identical range to his earlier strike.
Some of Wolves’ play over the afternoon had looked like that of a side more often found higher up the table, and had one of their strikers been alert to Doherty’s excellent ball across the face of goal on 74 minutes they would have had an equaliser. The cross instead flashed all the way out for a throw-in.
Greg Halford then replaced Reid and adopted a target man role alongside Cox.
On 83 minutes Collins had to be on hand to nod Sako’s dangerous cross out for a corner at Darlow’s near post.
From the resultant corner, the ball broke to Halford and the makeshift striker led The Reds on a 50-yard charge. He bore down on lone defender Stephen Ward, knocked it beyond him and the full back could only barge him over to earn a straight red card.
McGugan’s consequential free-kick was well-struck and well-saved by Ikeme, but on 90 minutes the substitute put the game well and truly beyond the visitors.
Jara Reyes found himself in possession on the edge of the Wolves box and when he was half-tackled, McGugan shaped his first-time effort superbly off the crossbar and into the net.
In the second minute of added time, Gorkss’ poor backpass gave Halford a sight at goal but he could only fire over after nipping in ahead of Ikeme.
It wasn’t to matter, however, as some excellent keep-ball saw The Reds over the line with minimal fuss.
Forest: Darlow, Jara Reyes, Ward, Collins (c), Cohen, Lansbury, Guedioura, Majewski (Moussi 63'), Reid (Halford 76'), Cox, Blackstock (McGugan 35')
Subs not used: Evtimov (GK), Hutchinson, Greening, Sharp
Scorers: Lansbury 31', 67', McGugan 90'
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Johnson, Gorkss, Ward, Edwards, Henry (c) (Doumbia 62'), O'Hara (Davis 62'), Sako, Sigurdarson (Doyle 68'), Ebanks-Blake
Subs not used: De Vries, Batth, Robinson, Hunt
Scorer: Doherty 65'
Sent Off: Ward 83'
Referee: Michael Naylor
Attendance: 23,350 (Away: 2,267)