Forest 2-1 Bournemouth
Nottingham Forest continued their fine form under Dougie Freedman with a 2-1 win over Bournemouth at The City Ground this evening.
Goals from Jamaal Lascelles and Henri Lansbury were enough to win the match after Andrew Surman had fired the visitors into an early lead.
Freedman made no changes to the squad he named for Saturday’s 4-1 win over Bolton Wanderers. That meant Dexter Blackstock continued up front and Danny Collins partnered Lascelles in central defence, with both Michael Mancienne and Kelvin Wilson on the bench.
Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie passed a fitness test to start the match, while former Reds Lee Camp and Elliott Ward were named among Eddie Howe’s substitutes.
Forest fans were hoping for another strong start following the weekend win over Wanderers, but it was Bournemouth who made all the early running - and the visitors had the lead on three minutes.
Following a sustained spell of Cherries pressure, during which Karl Darlow made an excellent save from Simon Francis, Surman picked the ball up from a short corner and curled it across Darlow and into the net with a perfectly placed effort.
It was almost 2-0 three minutes later when Ritchie saw his shot deflect just wide of the post, before Darlow was forced into making a save from Ryan Fraser.
The Reds were struggling to get hold of possession and were remonstrating with referee Nigel Miller when Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson blocked Darlow’s kick from his hands. The referee was unmoved, allowing Wilson to pick the ball up in the area before firing it into the side-netting.
Forest’s first meaningful forward foray came as a result of persistent work from Ben Osborn, who did well to win possession down the left before seeing his cross held by Artur Boruc at the keeper’s near post.
And the home side had their first real chance two minutes later. Eric Lichaj played a one-two with Lansbury down the right, allowing the American to cross the ball to Blackstock on the penalty spot. The striker controlled with his back to goal before laying it off to Michail Antonio to his right. The winger’s scuffed effort never troubled Boruc.
But Forest’s pressure was building and they had an equaliser on 21 minutes through Lascelles, who could have scored on three occasions in the build-up.
The defender met two Osborn corners with his head, nodding the ball back across goal and later drawing a punch from Boruc on the line. Lascelles had also seen a 20-yard strike diverted over the bar by a Bournemouth defender amid a succession of Forest deliveries into the middle.
But his frustrations were eventually relieved when Osborn’s corner evaded Blackstock but dropped for Lascelles in the area. He made no mistake in lashing the ball home.
The equaliser appeared to settle the game down and the next action of note came 11 minutes later, when Lichaj entered Mr Miller’s book for a foul on Adam Smith.
Both sides then exchanged half-chances - Brett Pitman heading the ball over the bar from Francis’ cross before Chris Burke sent it dipping into Boruc’s clutches from 30 yards.
And the keeper was busy again on 37 minutes after good hold up play by Antonio in the area. He laid the ball to his left for Lansbury who made an excellent connection on the stretch. Boruc dived low to his left to hold on.
Forest were in the ascendancy and were appealing for a penalty on 42 minutes when Blackstock went down in the area after being sandwiched between two Bournemouth defenders while trying to meet Fox’s cross. Mr Miller saw no reason to point to the spot.
Bournemouth had been neat in possession but a rare lapse in concentration gifted the ball to Osborn in space in the middle. Antonio had plenty of space in front of him to Osborn’s left but he instead had to take the ball in his stride. He reached the edge of the area and lashed the ball goalwards left-footed, but Boruc was able to punch it away.
Forest kept up their pressure though and, with two minutes of the half remaining, Antonio won a free-kick in a dangerous shooting position. Lansbury took charge, curling the ball over the wall and beating Boruc at his near post to send The Reds into the break 2-1 ahead.
There were no changes for either side at half-time and Forest began the second half strongly, Lansbury curling the ball just wide of the post from another free-kick after Burke was fouled by Fraser.
Five minutes later, Lascelles saw his header from Burke’s corner cleared off the line as The Reds continued their attempts to build on their lead.
But Bournemouth still looked dangerous, and they came close to leveling the scores when Surman flashed a header wide from Fraser’s cross.
Cherries manager Eddie Howe made a double substitution on 66 minutes, sending on Charlie Daniels and Marc Pugh for Fraser and Smith.
Freedman responded by replacing Burke with Mancienne, who slotted into a holding midfield role in his first appearance under the new manager.
The game was quickly becoming a cagey affair but Forest nearly cut the tension through Osborn, who latched on to a Blackstock flick-on and showed tremendous feet to get into the area. He was forced wide but still got his shot away, Boruc holding firm at his near post.
Blackstock was then replaced up front by Matty Fryatt, whose first moments on the pitch saw Lansbury curl the ball over the bar with a free-kick.
The flow of the match was disrupted by another substitution with 15 minutes to play as Bournemouth’s Shaun MacDonald was replaced by South African striker Tokelo Rantie.
Forest were doing well to restrict the visitors as the game entered its latter stages, with Antonio moving up front and Fryatt taking his place down the right. Lars Veldwijk replaced Antonio with a minute of normal time remaining.
Four minutes of added time were indicated, during which Veldwijk saw a shot diverted behind for a corner and Fryatt lashed the ball wide from 20 yards.
And The Reds kept up a stubborn second-half performance right to the death to secure an impressive 2-1 win.
Forest: Darlow, Lichaj, Collins, Lascelles, Fox, Burke (Mancienne 68'), Osborn, Lansbury (c), Gardner, Antonio (Veldwijk 89'), Blackstock (Fryatt 73')
Subs not used: De Vries, Wilson, Paterson, Vaughan
Goals: Lascelles 21', Lansbury 44'
Booking: Lichaj 33'
Boruc, Francis, Elphick (c), Cook, Smith (Daniels 66'), Ritchie, MacDonald (Rantie 76'), Surman, Fraser (Pugh 66'), Pitman, Wilson
Subs not used: Camp, Ward, Gosling, Stanislas
Goal: Surman 3'
Referee: Nigel Miller
Attendance: 20,637 (618 away)