Forest 3-0 Fulham
Matt Mills scored two headers as Nottingham Forest beat Fulham 3-0 at The City Ground this afternoon.
The centre back commenced and concluded The Reds' scoring with a goal in each half, while Chris O'Grady was able to make it two goals in as many games with a powerful finish from close range.
Dougie Freedman was forced to make one change to the team that beat Reading last weekend. Jack Hobbs, who was red-carded against the Royals, was serving a one-game suspension. His absence paved the way for Michael Mancienne to return to the team - his first appearance since suffering a knee injury against Hull in early October.
There was also a return to the squad for Robert Tesche - his first involvement since breaking his foot against Brighton on the opening day of the season. He took his place on the bench alongside Dimitar Evtimov, Kelvin Wilson, Liam Trotter, Jonny Williams, Dexter Blackstock and Jorge Grant.
Unusually, Forest kicked towards the Trent End in the first half and the wind was very much against them.
It took Fulham less than a minute to create the first chance of the game, Ben Pringle crossing the ball for bustling striker Matt Smith to meet. He sent it over the bar with a diving header from ten yards.
The visitors had another headed opportunity four minutes later after a spot of head tennis in the Forest area. The ball eventually dropped on the head of an unmarked Ross McCormack at the back post, but he was unable to make sufficient contact to trouble Dorus de Vries.
Forest's first glimpse at goal came on nine minutes courtesy of a teasing cross from left midfielder Ben Osborn. His delivery took the keeper out of play but Ryan Mendes was unable to turn the ball home from a tricky angle.
Fulham's aerial threat came to the fore once more on 22 minutes, however. Smith was again the recipient of a Pringle cross, meeting the ball with a powerful leap and forcing de Vries into a good save low down on his line.
Moments later, James Husband's cross forced Mills into making a vital headed intervention at his near post.
Forest were battling bravely against the wind but were struggling to impose themselves in Fulham's final third. Mendes changed that on 29 minutes when his cute, looped pass allowed Osborn to sneak around Ryan Fredericks in the area. Osborn rolled the ball across the face of goal but Richard Stearman was on hand to make an important clearance.
Chris O'Grady was the next Red to have a go as half-time approached. His low effort from range was easily dealt with by Fulham keeper Joe Lewis.
The home side were managing to keep McCormack relatively quiet, but he nearly had a goal in fortuitous circumstances two minutes before the break. His shot from 20 yards looped up off a Forest man, giving de Vries, who was already on his way down, a problem. The Dutch keeper managed to readjust his body to push the ball to safety.
It looked like the half was going to end 0-0, a situation Forest would no doubt have been happy with with the prospect of the wind behind them in the second half.
But Freedman's men took the lead in the 45th minute courtesy of a corner won well by Mendes. Henri Lansbury looped the ball into the middle and it found its way to Eric Lichaj at the back post. The American used an overhead kick to propel the ball back into the danger zone and Mills was on hand to head it home.
There were no changes for either side at the break and Forest almost made it 2-0 within a couple minutes of the restart. Lansbury picked the ball up on the right and drove towards the corner of Fulham's area. There was sufficient space in front of him to cross the ball low into the middle where O'Grady stretched to meet it but couldn't quite make contact.
The Reds kept up their pressure and had another big chance on 50 minutes. Following a free-kick, the ball dropped kindly for Lichaj six yards out. The right back looked certain to score but Tim Ream recovered brilliantly to divert his shot over the bar.
Forest's frustrations were short-lived, however, as they doubled their lead on 52 minutes. The catalyst was a stinging long-range drive from Oliveira. Lewis was unable to push the ball to safety and the race was on between O'Grady and a number of Fulham defenders to reach the ball first. O'Grady won it and blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
Fulham were facing an uphill task to get back into the game with the blustery conditions now in Forest's favour. Tom Cairney tried his luck from just outside the area but his curled effort was well tipped wide by de Vries.
Freedman's men were seeing out the match out in relative comfort. With 15 minutes to go, two-half chances passed Cairney by, and shortly afterwards Forest made it three.
Fulham's Jamie O'Hara made an excellent block to deny O'Grady, but the resultant corner saw Mills steal in around the back to nod home David Vaughan's corner.
Before play resumed, Oliveira and Mendes were replaced by Trotter and Grant. Tesche later replaced Osborn.
In the first of four added minutes, Lichaj's low, driven cross picked out Grant six yards out but the youngster was unable to turn the ball home. The resultant corner saw Mills denied a hat-trick of headers - agonisingly, his effort crashed off the crossbar.
The rest of added time passed without incident as Forest made it three home wins in succession.
Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills, Mancienne, Pinillos, Mendes (Grant 79') Lansbury (c), Vaughan, Osborn (Tesche 87'), Oliveira (Trotter 79'), O'Grady
Subs not used: Evtimov, Wilson, Williams, Blackstock
Goals: Mills 45', 78', O'Grady 52'
: Lewis, Fredericks, Stearman, Ream, Husband, Cairney, Parker (c) (FulhamHyndman 70'), O'Hara, Pringle (Kacaniklic 68'), McCormack, Smith (Woodrow 67')
Subs not used: Rodak, Garbutt, Hutchinson, Voser
Referee: Carl Boyeson