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Forest 2-1 MK Dons

19 December 2015

Nottingham Forest secured their fourth successive home win with a 2-1 victory over MK Dons this afternoon.

First-half goals from Nelson Oliveira and Ryan Mendes gave Forest a comfortable lead which Oliveira almost added to with a shot that cannoned off the post after the break.

After Daniel Pinillos was substituted with a nasty-looking injury the Dons cranked up the pressure, missing a penalty before pulling a goal back with nine minutes to play.

But, despite a nervy end to the match, Forest held firm to claim the three points and extend their unbeaten run to five matches.

Dougie Freedman selected the same team that beat Fulham 3-0 in Forest's last match at The City Ground.

That saw Oliveira and Chris O'Grady resume their partnership up front, Henri Lansbury and David Vaughan in the middle and Matt Mills and Michael Mancienne in central defence.

Mendes also returned to the starting line up, while Jonny Williams and Dexter Blackstock were named among the substitutes.

The Reds got off to the best possible start by taking the lead with only two minutes on the clock. Mendes and Oliveira exchanged passes down the right, releasing the latter into the area. Oliveira looked like he was about to be pushed wide by his marker but a superb turn took the defender out of the game and allowed him to curl the ball low across goal into the far corner.

Nicky Maynard, who spent much of pre-season on trial with Forest, offered MK Dons' first response three minutes later. He benefited from Rob Hall's quick break, receiving the ball from the winger and taking it deep into Reds territory. Held up on the edge of the box, Maynard attempted a shot but could only fire the ball high and wide.

The Dons were looking bright in their hunt for an equaliser and nearly had one on eight minutes after Mancienne was penalised for a foul in a dangerous area. Hall curled the ball over the wall and towards Dorus de Vries' bottom corner but the Dutchman got down low to push it to safety.

It was certainly an open start, and Oliveira came close to scoring his second of the day when he fired the ball left-footed across goal and just wide after Ben Osborn's strong run through the middle.

Hall was proving to be a menace, however, and Forest had their heart in their mouths when his 20-yard strike looped up off Mancienne. The ball could have gone anywhere but it ended up safely in the clutches of de Vries.

The Dons barely had a minute to bemoan that missed opportunity before Forest doubled their lead. Pinillos' cross from deep caused confusion for Mendes' marker, who allowed the winger to get round him and make contact with the cross eight yards out. Mendes appeared to miscue his initial effort but the ball remained within range for him to poke home from his position on the ground.

It could, and probably should, have been 3-0 moments after the restart when Mendes nodded the ball on for Oliveira, sending him through one-on-one with Dons keeper David Martin. The striker's first touch appeared a little heavy, Martin closed the angle and Oliveira could only poke the ball inches wide.

It became a scrappy affair after that with only a speculative, off-target Mendes effort to report before referee Simon Hooper called time on an ideal first half for Freedman's men.

The Reds started the second half brightly and won a free-kick when Oliveira's excellent run was illegally halted by Antony Kay on the byline. Lansbury drilled the free-kick low into the area and the ball evaded Oliveira by inches before being cleared by the Dons defence.

Freedman's men were dominating the play but they were almost hit with a sucker punch when Mancienne failed to clear a low cross from the right, allowing the ball to run straight through to Bowditch. The forward struck it goalwards first-time but de Vries reacted quickly to make an excellent save.

A flurry of chances fell Forest's way when a defensive lapse allowed Vaughan into the area. He whipped the ball across the face of goal in the hope of presenting Mendes with a tap in but a defender managed to block its path. The ball came back out to Osborn, who's drilled effort failed to find its way to goal through a packed penalty area. Vaughan picked up the scraps and gave it back to Osborn in space, but the midfielder's precise effort with his weaker foot was directed tamely at the keeper.

Dons stopper Martin was called in to make a much more difficult save shortly afterwards when Lansbury's excellent free-kick looked destined for the bottom corner. Martin dived to his left to save superbly.

Oliveira's willingness to shoot from range makes him an unpredictable threat for opposition defences, and few could have expected the effort which saw the ball crash off the post on 66 minutes. At least 30 yards out and in a wide position, the forward fizzed the ball low towards goal only to be denied by the base of Martin's woodwork.

There was concern for Pinillos shortly afterwards when he had to be helped off by Forest's physios following an innocuous-looking incident near his own corner flag. Jack Hobbs replaced him, with Mancienne filling in at left back.

The injury appeared to take the sting out of Forest somewhat and MK Dons were handed a lifeline when substitute Josh Murphy, on for Ben Reeves, was tripped by Lichaj in the area, earning the American a booking and the visitors a penalty. Maynard stepped up and struck the ball firmly to de Vries's right but the keeper was able to make a brilliant stop.

Freedman then made his second change as Mendes came off for Jamie Ward, but there was nothing the substitute could do to prevent the visitors halving the deficit seconds later.

It was Murphy again, this time receiving a reverse pass from left back Dean Lexington and finishing clinically beyond de Vries.

With six minutes to play Trotter replaced Oliveira has Freedman looked to protect his side's lead.

The nervousness around the ground was palpable and the announcement of five minutes' added time did nothing to ease the tension.

But it wasn't to be enough for the visitors, who became the latest team to suffer at the hands of Forest at The City Ground.

Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills, Mancienne, Pinillos (Hobbs 70'), Mendes (Ward 80'), Lansbury (c), Vaughan, Osborn, Oliveira (Trotter 84'), O'Grady

Subs not used: Evtimov, Williams, Blackstock, Tesche

Goals: Oliveira 2', Mendes 16'

Bookings: Lichaj 78'

: Martin, Spence (Baker 76'), McFadzean, Kay, Lewington (c), Potter, Carruthers, Hall, Reeves (Murphy 63'), Bowditch (Gallagher 77'), MaynardMK Dons

Subs not used: Cropper, Hodson, Poyet, Powell,

Goal: Murphy 81'

Booking: Kay 48'

Referee: Simon Hooper

Att: 19,975 (591 away)

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