Nottingham Forest started pre-season with a win this afternoon, beating Ilkeston FC 4-0.
Having struggled to break down a well organised defence for 75 minutes, The Reds eventually broke the deadlock through Simon Cox, and then they quickly added to their tally.
Danny Collins skippered the side in the first half, with Forest lining up in an attacking 4-4-2 formation. Jamie Mackie and Stephen McLaughlin started at right and left back respectively, whilst Jorge Grant and Jamie Paterson were ahead of them on the flanks.
Jack Blake and Henri Lansbury were in central midfield and Matty Fryatt partnered Tyler Walker up front. Louis Laing partnered Collins at the heart of the defence and Karl Darlow started in goal.
On a very hot day the game started slowly, with The Reds comfortably knocking the ball around. But it was Ilkeston who had the first chance of the game with a free kick from 25 yards. Ilkeston’s James Reid failed to test Darlow though, hitting the wall.
Forest had their first sustained spell of pressure soon after. Mackie and Paterson combined well down the right and the Scottish international set up Matty Fryatt in the box, but his shot hit Jack Blake, and eventually Ilkeston cleared.
It fell to Fryatt again two minutes later though, and this time he did get his shot on target, drawing the first save of the game from Ilkeston’s Jordan Smith.
Ilkeston, playing a 5-3-2 formation, were content to let Forest keep the ball in deep areas, but when they won it back they were quick to break.
Quick feet from Paterson in the box just past the halfway point of the half found the dangerous Fryatt, but, after working himself some space, his shot was once again blocked.
The 29-year-old forward was at the heart of all Forest’s attacking play, but he couldn’t find the breakthrough, and on 35 minutes Ilkeston nearly took the lead. Fine play from their left wing back Reid deserved better, but McLaughlin cleared his chipped cross under little pressure.
Che Adams’ appeals for a penalty were waved away a couple of minutes later, as Ilkeston enjoyed their best spell of the game, but Henri Lansbury quickly won the ball back and broke for The Reds, bursting through the midfield. The ball fell for Tyler Walker on the right side of the box, but his cross, looking for Fryatt, was cleared.
But still the chances came for Ilkeston and on 40 minutes, running from deep, Eli Bako forced Darlow into his first save of the game, low at his near post. Just before half time Ilkeston had the best chance of the half to break the deadlock. Number nine Courey Grantham broke through on goal but Darlow was equal to the shot again, saving with his legs.
The play immediately switched to the other end, with Lansbury and Fryatt combining well again, the former sliding the latter through only for his shot to be blocked away for a corner. It came to nothing, and that was the last action of the half.
Forest had enjoyed more possession and play, but were lucky not to have conceded at the end of the first period. Matty Fryatt impressed on his debut for The Reds, and on another day could easily have had capped his performance with a goal, whilst at the back fellow debutant Louis Laing had looked composed.
Stuart Pearce rang the changes at the interval, bringing on ten new faces. Dorus De Vries took over from Darlow in goal, Danny Fox, Greg Halford and triallist Amadou Haidara joined Louis Laing in defence, with Ben Osborn, Andy Reid, Radoslaw Majewski and David Vaughan coming on in midfield. Lars Veldwijk and Simon Cox became the new pairing up front.
The Reds started the second half well, and the fluid midfield four linked well immediately, with Osborn coming in off the left flank, Majewski the right.
But it was Ilkeston who had the first shot of the half, Laurie Wilson testing De Vries from distance. The Dutchman tipped it over the bar for a corner which was swung in from the left and met by the head of Joe Maguire, who rattled his header against the crossbar. It was a let off for The Reds.
David Morgan brought a sharp save from De Vries five minutes later, firing a 25 yard free kick on target, but Forest soon regained their grip on the game.
On 60 minutes, Veldwijk and Cox combined well up front and the ball was fed wide to Osborn. His cross alluded everyone, but the linkup between the new Dutchman and Cox was encouraging. Two minutes later Veldwijk got a shot away from the edge of the box, but it deflected just wide.
Louis Laing came off for McLaughlin halfway through the second period, with Halford moving across to the middle and the Irishman slotting in at right back.
On 65 minutes, Veldwijk was involved again, meeting a floated cross at the back post with a powerful header back across goal, but Ilkeston keeper Smith pulled off the save of the game to push it over the bar for a corner.
Forest continued to press for an opener, and impressive feet from Majewski on 75 minutes deep in his own half saw him spring away from his marker and feed Osborn down the left hand side. His slide rule pass found Cox in the box and the keeper could only parry his low shot, but Ilkeston still managed to clear away.
The ball remained in the Ilkeston half though, and a minute later, a deep cross from Danny Fox found Cox unmarked in the box, and he headed home to open the scoring.
And Forest immediately looked to double their lead as they drove forward, Majewski hitting a left footed shot that Smith saved, before Forest did make it two on 80 minutes.
Lovely link up play between Veldwijk, Majewski and Osborn set the latter up on the inside left of the box to roll home a cool finish into the corner of the goal.
And then three minutes later, it was three. This time it was Reid who burst through the middle after receiving a short pass from Vaughan, and he turned, took a touch, and slipped Simon Cox in on goal, who lobbed the ball over the onrushing Smith to score.
Just before full time, Forest made it four. Cox fed Veldwijk who had peeled wide, and the tall striker crossed for Osborn who was coming in at the back post to nod home his second goal.
Darlow, Collins, Trialist, Fryatt, Paterson, Lansbury, Mackie, McLaughlin, Grant, Walker, LaingForest first-half XI:
Forest second-half XI: De Vries, Fox, Vaughan, Haidara, Majewski, Reid, Veldwijk, Halford, Cox, Osborn, Laing
Scorers: Cox 76', 82', Osborn 80', 90'