Nottingham Forest were beaten 1-0 by Millwall at The City Ground this afternoon.Lions substitute Ricardo Fuller capitalised on a defensive mistake to score the only goal of the game late on.
Forest hit the bar twice and enjoyed the better of the chances, but they were unable to find the net.
Stuart Pearce made two changes to the side that faced Fulham at Craven Cottage a week-and-a-half ago.
Chris Burke and Stephen McLaughlin came in, taking up the right wing and left back slots respectively. Eric Lichaj dropped to the bench while Gary Gardner was ruled out through illness.
Forest started the game brightly and won a corner in the third minute. The ball dropped to Lansbury eight yards from goal but a Millwall defender got in the way of his half-volley, diverting it behind.
There was another opening for The Reds on nine minutes when Michail Antonio, partnering Britt Assombalonga up front, flicked the ball on. His fellow forward raced into Millwall’s area but Jos Hooiveld managed to turn the ball behind.
Lions manager Ian Holloway was forced into making a change on 15 minutes when Lee Martin headed straight down the tunnel with an injury. Ed Upson replaced him.
And a minute after the substitute had jogged on to the field, he nearly saw his side go behind in the sloppiest of circumstances.
Assombalonga was penalised for a foul down the left in Millwall’s half. Shaun Cummings opted for a quick free-kick, playing the ball back towards goal but missing his intended target. Antonio reacted quickly to race through one-on-one with Millwall keeper David Forde but, with the angle tight, Forde was able to save the shot with his foot.
Millwall’s first attempt of note came on 19 minutes when Magaye Gueye fired the ball harmlessly wide past an unconcerned Dorus de Vries.
The Dutch keeper was troubled nine minutes later, however, when Millwall won a free-kick in a dangerous crossing position. Upson whipped the ball in and Mark Beevers flicked it towards goal with his head. De Vries made a superb save to deny a certain goal.
Antonio and Upson then found themselves in the referee’s notebook, the latter’s foul presenting Forest with a free-kick in Millwall’s half. The ball went out for a corner, from which it fell to McLaughlin in the area. His shot was blocked and the ball looped up into the air. Robert Tesche rose highest but he could only head it straight at Forde.
With half-time approaching, the sides exchanged efforts to break the deadlock. Forest went closest when Henri Lansbury dipped the ball on to the roof of Millwall’s net with a free-kick, before Beevers blazed it high over the bar at the other end, ensuring the sides went into the break at 0-0.
But within two minutes of the restart Forest twice came close to taking the lead.
Tesche’s cross from the left saw the ball curl all the way on to Forde’s crossbar before dropping on to Burke’s head eight yards out. He nodded the ball towards goal but Beevers had positioned himself perfectly to make the block.
And Forest had the bar rattling again shortly afterwards. Antonio did well to keep the ball in play down the right before digging out a cross. The ball soared perfectly into Assombalonga’s path six yards out but the striker could only head it against the woodwork.
Millwall were on the back foot but created their first opportunity of the second half just before the hour. Shaun Williams lofted the ball over the top for Stefan Maierhofer to run on to. The big striker let the ball bounce before firing it over the angle of bar and post from just inside Forest’s area.
Matty Fryatt, returning from injury, replaced Burke during the resultant stoppage.
A draw was of no great help to either side, and Antonio set about tilting the match in Forest’s favour with a strong run down the left. He cut inside with the ball but, crowded out by Millwall defenders, he could only send the ball bobbling straight at Forde.
Both sides made changes, Tesche coming off for Jamie Paterson and Fuller replacing Gueye, before another substitute, Lee Gregory, who had earlier replaced Maierhofer, nearly saw perseverance pay off.
Gregory played a one-two with Upson 25 yards from Forest’s goal before taking the ball into the area. Somehow he kept hold of it before being blocked off by a sea of red on the six-yard line. Undeterred, he turned back before spinning quickly and getting a shot away. Kelvin Wilson was well placed to block.
Forest’s response came from Lansbury, who the ball dropped to just outside the area with 11 minutes to play. The midfielder could only bend it over the bar.
The Reds were claiming a penalty moments later when Williams tripped Antonio as he raced towards the Millwall goal. Referee Mark Heywood, who booked Williams, adjudged the foul to have occurred on the edge of the area. Forest’s resultant intricate free-kick resulted in Lansbury crossing the ball harmlessly into the middle, allowing the visitors an easy chance to clear.
It was looking more and more likely that The Reds would be heading home frustrated - and that feeling was compounded when Millwall took the lead with seven minutes of normal time remaining.
The Lions looped the ball forward and McLaughlin didn’t get enough pace on his header back towards de Vries, allowing Fuller to nip in, take the ball round de Vries and tap it into the net.
Four minutes of added time were indicated at the end of the match, in the first of which the visitors won a free-kick. Williams’ strike was diverted off-target by Lansbury, allowing Millwall to hold on to the ball in the corner.
And The Reds were unable to create another opportunity as they suffered a 1-0 defeat.
Forest: De Vries, Wilson, Hobbs, Kane, McLaughlin, Tesche (Paterson 70'), Lansbury, C.Burke (Fryatt 60'), Osborn, Assombalonga, Antonio
Subs not used: Darlow, Lichaj, Fox, Veldwijk, Lascelles
Bookings: Antonio 32', Tesche 53'
: MillwallForde, Cummings, Dunne, Hooiveld, Beevers, Abdou, Williams, Martin (Upson 15'), Fabbrini, Gueye (Fuller 72'), Maierhofer (Gregory 61')
Subs not used: King, Webster, Powell, O’Brien
Goal: Fuller 83'
Bookings: Upson 34'
Referee: Mark Heywood
Attendance: 23,018 (682 away)