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Match Reports

Forest v Blackpool

9 August 2014

Forest 2-0 Blackpool

28,028 supporters saw two debutants fire Nottingham Forest to victory in Stuart Pearce’s first match in charge.

Michail Antonio and Chris Burke netted in the first half to hand Forest the perfect start to the season.

Captain Chris Cohen was given a central midfield berth in his first start since injuring his knee against Burnley in November.

Fellow long-term absentees Eric Lichaj and Jack Hobbs were named among the substitutes, while there were debuts for new signings Michael Mancienne at centre back, Jack Hunt at right back, Antonio and Burke on the wings and Matty Fryatt and Britt Assombalonga up front. Dan Harding started at left back, with Danny Fox in the centre of defence.

Young midfielder Ben Osborn was on the bench along with Lars Veldwijk, Jamie Paterson, Dorus de Vries and Stephen McLaughlin.

Forest started the game in dominant fashion and carved out their first half-chance on eight minutes, Antonio heading the ball wide under pressure from Burke’s cross.

Moments later, Assombolonga beat Blackpool’s defence for pace to latch on to a long ball over the top but couldn’t get it out of his feet, allowing The Tangerines just enough time to smother the danger.

Blackpool offered their first threat on 19 minutes, Nathan Delfouneso heading the ball wide at the back post from John Lundstram’s inswinging free-kick, but the visitors found themselves a goal down six minutes later.

Space opened up in midfield for Reid and the Irishman sent the ball curling on to the post. Antonio was quickest to react, sliding it low and out of Joe Lewis’ reach from eight yards.

The Reds were firmly in the driving seat and Assombalonga soon set about trying to double the lead, turning neatly outside the area and driving the ball low and a yard wide of the post on 27 minutes.

But Burke was on hand on the half-hour mark to make it 2-0. Hunt controlled the ball down the right and passed it sideways to Burke, who shifted it on to his left foot and curled it beyond Lewis and into the top corner of the net.

Forest refused to relent their pressure and there was another chance for Antonio on 40 minutes courtesy of good work from Fryatt. The striker cut into the box from the left before laying the ball off for Antonio, who went for precision with his effort. Lewis just about hung on at full stretch.

Reid sent the ball over the bar with a left-footed effort on the stroke of half-time before The Reds retreated to the changing room.

There were no changes for either side at the break but Forest nearly extended their lead within a minute of the restart.

Cohen did well to take control of possession before giving the ball to Burke. The winger’s cross was beautifully shaped but there was too much pace on the ball for Assombalonga, who couldn’t make contact with it in the area.

Blackpool were enduring a difficult start to the second half but on 54 minutes embarked on a spell of positive attacking play. Andrea Orlandi had two efforts, sending the ball low and wide of the post and going much closer minutes later, curling it just wide of the top corner.

Fox was also called in to make an excellent tackle on Sergei Zenjov, who had raced into the area to latch on to a through ball.

Amid all that, McLaughlin had replaced Antonio and the winger had to be on the ball defensively to take the sting out of Jacob Mellis’ shot as the visitors continued their bright spell.

The visitors’ momentum gradually halted and, with 12 minutes to go, Pearce made his second change - Osborn for Burke.

There was controversy as play resumed. Assombalonga’s cross from the byline was bundled behind by the Blackpool defence amid screams of ‘handball’ from the Trent End. Referee Tony Harrington was unmoved.

By the time Cohen was replaced by Lichaj with four minutes to play the match had slowed considerably on a warm summer’s afternoon.

And there were no further incidents as The Reds wrapped up a comfortable opening-day victory.

Forest: Darlow, Harding, Mancienne, Fox, Hunt, Cohen (Lichaj 87'), Reid, Antonio (McLaughlin 57'), Burke (Osborn 78'), Fryatt, Assombalonga

Subs not used: De Vries, Veldwijk, Paterson, Hobbs

Scorers: Antonio 25', Burke 30'

Booking: Hunt 64'

Blackpool: Lewis, McMahon, Clarke, Daniels, Perkins, Lundstram, Mellis, Cywka, Orlandi, Zenjov (Telford 88'), Delfouneso

Subs not used: Parish, Dunne, Waddington

Bookings: Mellis 76', Orlandi 81'

Referee: Mr T Harrington

Attendance: 28,028 (784 away)

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