Nottingham Forest suffered a 3-1 defeat against Brentford at The City Ground this evening.
First-half goals from Jon Toral and Andre Gray put the hosts on the back foot, before Alex Pritchard added a third with a penalty three minutes after the restart.
Forest were reduced to ten men when, with all three of their substitutes on the field, Danny Fox was stretchered off with 11 minutes to play.
Michail Antonio pulled a goal back with eight minutes to play, but it wasn’t enough for The Reds.
Stuart Pearce made four changes to the team that lost at Huddersfield on Saturday. In came Kelvin Wilson, Jack Hunt, Chris Burke and Ben Osborn, replacing Eric Lichaj, Robert Tesche, Britt Assombalonga and David Vaughan. Michael Mancienne moved into defensive midfield, while Antonio started the match up front flanked by Burke to his left and home debutant Thomas Ince to his right.
The two sides exchanged early half-chances, Antonio scuffing the ball wide before Mancienne was called in to block Jonathan Douglas’ shot from the edge of the area.
It had been a quiet start to the game but Moses Odubajo sparked it into life on 17 minutes with a strong run. He cut in from the right, took the ball into the penalty area and went down under Hunt’s challenge. The ball ran on to Toral who produced an excellent strike to send it into the roof of Darlow’s net, making it 1-0 to the visitors.
Antonio was behind The Reds’ response, sprinting into the area and cutting the ball back for Henri Lansbury. The midfielder’s first-time effort was blocked and Ince couldn’t react quickly enough to control the rebound.
A flurry of Forest chances followed as Pearce’s men looked to get back on level terms. Antonio was again the instigator, showing great pace down the left and crossing the ball dangerously into the middle. A Brentford defender was alert to turn the ball behind with Ince ready to meet it at the back post.
Shortly afterwards, Bees keeper David Button tipped the ball over from Fox’s shot. Osborn’s inswinging corner was dangerous but Wilson couldn’t generate enough height to meet the ball and Antonio was fractionally too late to turn it home after bursting towards the back post.
The visitors had an accomplished look about them, however, and Alan Judge’s shot which whistled just wide from 25 yards served as a warning for what was about to come.
Hunt, who had been injured in his clash with Odubajo in the run up to the first goal, was forced off in place of Lichaj and, three minutes after coming into the fray, the American’s sloppy backpass sent Gray clean through on Darlow. The Brentford man knocked the ball to the keeper’s left and rolled it into the net.
It could have been 3-0 on 38 minutes but Douglas could only head the ball into the ground when Judge picked him out with a cross from the left.
Forest were clearly suffering from a lack of confidence but almost pulled a goal back during a strong spell of pressure just before the interval. Lascelles drew a good save from Button with a header from Ince’s cross, before the latter had a header cleared off the line following a corner.
There were four minutes added at the end of the half, in the second of which Douglas was guilty of missing another excellent chance. Toral’s pass cut Forest’s defence open but the former Leeds man could only send the ball wide from eight yards with his first-time effort.
Fox went close for Forest with a shot from 30 yards, but Brentford had the last chance of the half courtesy of more sloppy defending. Wilson’s miscued backpass sent Gray racing into the area but, from a tight angle, he couldn’t beat Darlow.
Assombalonga replaced Lascelles at half-time but there was nothing the front man could do to prevent the visitors making it 3-0 on 48 minutes.
Wilson opted to slide in on Gray as the forward carried the ball into the area, felling him and leaving referee Mark Haywood with no option but to award a penalty. Pritchard stroked the ball past Darlow from the spot.
Assombalonga had the ball in the net on 50 minutes but the officials adjudged he had unlawfully removed it from Button’s grasp before turning it into the net.
Clear-cut chances had been hard to come by for Forest but Fox went close just before the hour mark, receiving a lay-off from Osborn and striking the ball just wide of Button’s near post.
Pearce made his third and final change shortly afterwards, replacing Burke with Jamie Paterson, but the visitors could have put the game beyond all doubt a minute later.
Gray did well to turn Mancienne before tricking his way past Wilson and into the area. Darlow had to make an excellent save to push the ball out for a corner.
The Reds called Darlow’s opposite number into action after Lansbury was clattered by Pritchard on the edge of the area. The Bees man went into the book and Button did well to push the ball away from his bottom corner after Lansbury took charge of the subsequent set piece.
And Button was called into an even better save after Ince worked the ball to Antonio on the right-hand corner of Brentford’s area. The winger produced a tremendous strike but Button did brilliantly to divert the ball away from his top corner.
Forest were well in the ascendancy but time was running away from them. Ince sent the ball narrowly wide of the post after Paterson’s lay-off with 14 minutes to play.
The Reds’ task was made even harder when Fox was stretchered off with a serious-looking injury after an awkward fall.
But Antonio gave his side a glimmer of hope when, with eight minutes of normal time remaining, he powered the ball home left-footed from the edge of the area.
Forest’s persistence was admirable but they almost conceded a fourth when Judge curled the ball just wide of the post from inside the ‘D’.
Five minutes of added time was allocated, in the first of which Bees skipper Tony Craig produced an excellent block to smother Lansbury’s shot from 20 yards.
With seconds to play, Assombalonga wriggled his way into the area but could only fire the ball over from close range.
And The Reds could do nothing more to prevent defeat.
Forest: Darlow, Fox, Wilson, Lascelles (Assombalonga 46'), Hunt (Lichaj 32'), Mancienne (c), Osborn, Lansbury, Ince, Burke (Paterson 62'), Antonio
Subs not used: De Vries, Harding, Fryatt, Tesche
Goal: Antonio 82'
Booking: Lansbury 20'
Button, Bidwell, Craig (c), Dean, Douglads, Odubajo (Dallas 64'), Toral (Jota 59'), Judge, Gray (Proschwtiz 75'), Diagouraga, PritchardBrentford: