Nottingham Forest secured a 1-0 win in this afternoon’s East Midlands derby at The City Ground.Jack Hobbs’ first goal for the club, a header just before the break, was enough to hand Reds fans the bragging rights.
Richard Keogh was sent off for the visitors in the second half and Darius Henderson saw the resultant penalty saved, but it wasn’t to matter as Forest claimed victory over their rivals.
Kelvin Wilson didn’t recover from a back injury in time to make Billy Davies’ squad, while Nathaniel Chalobah was also ruled out. Danny Collins and Guy Moussi, who both featured in the Capital One Cup match at Burnley in midweek, replaced them, while Radoslaw Majewski also kept his place in Forest’s starting line-up.
Kicking towards The Trent End, The Reds took a firm grip of the game from the off and Rams skipper Keogh had to be alert to block Majewski’s curler from the edge of the area on five minutes.
And it was the Pole again moments later. His clever movement allowed Andy Reid to pick him out just outside the area with his back turned. Majewski spun and sent a fierce left-footed effort across goal, only for Lee Grant to tip it just wide of the post.
The match was being played out amidst a superb atmosphere as Forest sought to land an early blow on their bitter rivals. Majewski was proving a constant thorn in their side and on 12 minutes drew the first booking of the game. He raced into the left-hand channel, Keogh slipped in pursuit of him and brought Majewski down to earn a spot in Simon Hooper’s notebook.
It was then the turn of the fourth official to take centre stage as he signalled the early departure of Moussi, who headed straight down the tunnel. Dan Harding replaced him and Cohen moved into midfield.
Shortly after the resumption of play Derby had their first sight of goal, albeit a brief one. Chris Martin’s through ball got tangled up on its way through and for a moment Jamie Ward looked like he would get a shot away at point-blank range. Hobbs reacted well to slide in and divert the ball to safety.
The visitors had come in to the game more as the half wore on. Craig Bryson’s long-range effort sailed wide of Karl Darlow’s post on 24 minutes and Jamie Ward, after Will Hughes was awarded a very soft-looking free-kick after challenging Collins, blazed the subsequent set-piece high into The Bridgford Stand.
And it was the former Sheffield United man who would give Darlow his first real test of the afternoon. Stooping to meet Craig Forsyth’s cross from the left, Ward could only direct his header straight at the keeper who blocked it on the line.
Forest went down the other end and came close to scoring the opener as the break loomed large. Eric Lichaj cut in from the right and saw his effort deflect off a Rams defender and just over Grant’s crossbar.
That was close, but from the resultant corner Forest had the lead.
Reid’s in-swinging delivery from the right was perfect for the onrushing Hobbs, who made no mistake in powering his header beyond Grant to spark wild scenes of celebration around The City Ground.
Derby offered two speculative efforts in the way of response. Ward managed to keep his strike lower than Hughes had moments before, but both sailed comfortably over Darlow’s bar.
And The Reds almost took a two-goal cushion in to the break courtesy of more excellent work by Reid. His tenacity allowed him to maintain possession in the corner, swivel away from his defender at the byline and cross deep towards Henderson. Both sides battled to bring it under control in the area and the ball squirmed towards Mackie. Grant came off his line quickly to smother his effort.
The sides emerged from the break unchanged and the second half failed to herald a notable incident until the 57th minute. Substitute Harding went in to the book for felling Johnny Russell as the Scot led a pacy Rams counter. Russell was subsequently subbed for Conor Sammon.
The change did nothing to prevent the first opportunity of the second half falling to the home side. Reid’s cross from the left picked out the run of Henderson, but the big striker miscued his header and the chance was gone.
Davies made his second change of the day on 65 minutes as Djamal Abdoun replaced Majewski, and the substitute was immediately involved, laying it off for Harding to cross. Mackie kept it alive with his head and Henderson’s back-header fell at the feet of Grant.
Martin, Derby’s top scorer with six goals going in to the match, then fired over from just inside the area before Abdoun went into the book for a trip on Adam Smith on the edge of the area. Hughes curled a precise effort over the wall but Darlow got across and held well.
Darlow’s save was good, but what Grant produced at the other end minutes later was nothing short of superb.
Cohen embarked on a barnstorming run down the left and was tripped by Keogh in the area. The defender was given a second yellow card and The Reds had a penalty. Henderson stepped up and swept the ball low to the keeper’s right, only for Grant to get across brilliantly to tip it around the post.
It was to be Henderson’s last involvement as he was substituted for Greg Halford in a like-for-like switch minutes later.
Buoyed by the save, Derby attacked and Cohen was booked for a trip on Hughes. The distinctive midfielder rolled the subsequent set-piece to his left for Bryson, who scuffed his effort, allowing Forest to clear.
Mackie was next in the book for a foul on Forsyth, but the striker had an opening at the other end with a minute of normal time to go. With the game stretched, he found himself in possession with space to run into. He showed a couple of stepovers, switched on to his left and blazed his effort wide.
The match had the nervy element so common of derby games by this stage, and Forest hearts were beating even faster when the ball dropped for Sammon in the area in the second of five added minutes. He struck it sweetly on the half-volley but Darlow got down well to save.
The final chance of the game, however, fell to Forest. Reid showed good composure to initially bring the ball down and, after an exchange with Halford, ran towards goal before seeing his effort turned behind for a corner by the impressive Grant.
The Reds kept the ball from there on in, leaving captain Cohen and chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi to parade the Brian Clough trophy in front of Forest’s jubilant supporters.
Forest: Darlow, Lichaj, Collins, Hobbs, Cohen(c), Moussi (Harding 16'), Lansbury, Reid, Mackie, Henderson (Halford 82'), Majewski (Abdoun 65')
Subs not used: De Vries, Jara, Derbyshire, Cox
Scorer: Hobbs 41'
Bookings: Harding 57', Abdoun 74', Mackie 77', Cohen 83'
Derby: Grant, Smith, Keogh(c), Buxton, Forsyth, Eustace, Bryson, Hughes, Ward (Jacobs 90'), Martin, Russell (Sammon 58')
Subs: Deeney, Gjokaj, Freeman, Bennett, Davies
Booking: Keogh 12', Forsyth 90'
Sent off Keogh 78' (2nd bookable offence)
Referee: Simon Hooper