Nottingham Forest came from behind to beat Rotherham 2-1 at The City Ground this afternoon and record their first win of the season.Former Red Danny Collins had given the visitors the lead in the 13th minute, but goals either side of half-time from Matt Mills and Michail Antonio gave Dougie Freedman’s men the victory.
Tyler Walker started his first league game for Forest as Freedman made four changes to the side that faced Brighton on the opening day.
Kelvin Wilson, Chris Burke and David Vaughan also made their first league starts of the campaign.
Former Reds Collins and Greg Halford were the visitors centre half pairing, with the latter captaining Steve Evans’ side, while Matt Derbyshire led Rotherham’s line.
Jamie Ward nearly opened the scoring within the first minute of the game. Winning the ball back high up in Rotherham’s half, he scampered towards goal and unleashed a fierce shot which Kelle Roos did well to get down quickly and save.
Ward – who had started centrally, playing behind Walker – was bright early on, and Halford brought him down on the left wing after five minutes. Captain Henri Lansbury delivered the resultant free-kick to the back post, but Roos claimed just ahead of Matt Mills.
Rotherham came close soon after in what was a lively opening ten minutes. Chris Maguire was fouled 25 yards out and sprang up to take the free-kick, sending it inches wide of Dorus de Vries’ right-hand post.
And it was the Millers who had the next good chance too, when Derbyshire got across his marker to connect with a dangerous Lewis Buxton cross. Thankfully for the Reds, de Vries was able to get down and turn the effort around his post for a corner.
But seconds later a header did beat the Dutchman. The corner was swung in and Collins rose highest to nod home from six yards, giving the visitors a 13th-minute lead.
The goal slowed the tempo of the half. Richard Smallwood picked up the first booking of the game midway through the opening period, but chances were few and far between until Forest so nearly got back on level terms.
Michail Antonio beat Buxton on the right and swung over an inviting cross that Burke knocked towards goal. Stood on the near post, Walker turned the winger’s effort home, but the 18-year-old was adjudged to be offside.
Matt Derbyshire was the second Rotherham played to find his way into referee Darren Bond’s notebook when he attempted to block a de Vries clearance, before Ward again nearly had Forest level. He beat two men on the edge of the area, but was tackled by a third as he shaped to shoot.
It was a fiery affair and the game was becoming increasingly end-to-end. Antonio’s first shot on target tested Roos on 40 minutes, before the Millers broke on the Reds, and Frecklington forced de Vries into a good save.
Ward was at the heart of the action throughout the first half and when Maguire caught him with a late challenge he became the third visitor to receive a yellow card.
As the fourth official raised his board to indicate there would be two minutes of added time at the end of the opening period, Antonio won a corner. Mills headed the set piece towards goal, but the chance was cleared.
He wasn’t to be denied moments later though. Jamie Ward sent over a high, enticing cross from the left and Mills rose dominantly in the middle, heading hard past Roos, sending the Reds in level at the break.
The second half picked up where the first had left off and Rotherham came so close to regaining the lead within the first minute. A deep cross found its way to the back post where Bowery was waiting, but de Vries and Lichaj combined well to block his effort on the line.
Walker won a corner in the 53rd minute when, having beaten Danny Collins in the air, he picked the ball up on the edge of the area and forced Roos into a save down low at his near post.
The corner came to nothing and then Rotherham won a succession of their own, which Forest did well to keep out as the visitors enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure.
But The Reds quickly regained a foothold in the game. Mancienne won a crunching tackle in the left back area and played in Lansbury, whose fine cross-field ball set Burke away on the right. He raced into the area, but his cross was smothered away by stopper Roos.
Within a minute though, Forest did score from a Burke cross. He sent in a dink from the right which Roos pushed onto the bar and it bounced into the path of the onrushing Antonio who couldn’t miss from six yards.
Shortly after Forest had taken the lead Dexter Blackstock replaced Ward, who had picked up a knock, and just shy of the 70-minute mark the substitute striker nearly got on the end of a deep corner, but his effort went just wide.
Forest were pushing for a third and Evans made a double change to try and bring his side back into the game. Danny Ward and Aidy White were sent on in place of Jordan Bowery and Chris Maguire.
It did little to stem the Red tide though, as Mancienne again stepped in at left back to make a fine tackle and set Forest on their way. This time the ball came to Burke, and he tested Roos from 25 yards.
Mancienne was becoming increasingly involved and he nearly put Forest further ahead with 15 minutes remaining. A throw from the right found its way across to him, and Roos was forced to turn his first-time effort behind for a corner.
David Vaughan became the first home player to pick up a booking when he fouled White, and the resulting free-kick caused slight concern in the Forest box, but Mancienne was there to head clear.
Another dangerous ball into the Forest box, this time from Ward, looked briefly threatening on 80 minutes, but de Vries came off his line to claim.
Evans brought on Tom Thorpe for Richard Smallwood, allowing him to send Halford up front in his final throw of the dice, but it could all have been in vein moments later. Lansbury fed Walker wide on the right, and Burke sent his low cross an inch past the post.
Oliver Burke replaced Walker with six minutes remaining and the youngster received a standing ovation from all sides of the ground as he made his way off, having impressed on his first league start.
The winger was sent away on the break by Mancienne just after coming on and he took the long ball in his stride before shooting across Roos, but the stopper got down well to hold the shot.
That was to be the last real action of the game as the Reds did a fine job of seeing the game out, and they held on to record their first win of the season.
Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills, Wilson, Mancienne, Antonio, Lansbury (c), Vaughan, C Burke, Ward (Blackstock 64'), Walker (O Burke 85')
Subs not used: Evtimov, Fox, Paterson, Hobbs, Pinillos
Goals: Mills 45', Antonio 61'
Bookings: Vaughan 78', Blackstock 87'
: RotherhamRoos, Buxton, Collins, Halford, Mattock, Maguire (White 72'), Smallwood (Thorpe 81'), Frecklington, Newell, Bowery (D Ward 72'), Derbyshire