Nottingham Forest were beaten 1-0 by Rochdale in the third round of the FA Cup this afternoon.
A first-half Peter Vincenti penalty, conceded by Michail Antonio, was enough to separate the two sides.
Stuart Pearce made six changes to the team that faced Birmingham City last weekend. Opting for a flat back four, the manager selected Jack Hobbs as Kelvin Wilson’s centre-back partner - the former’s first appearance since injuring his ankle against Derby in September.
Dorus de Vries was given a start between the sticks while Chris Burke, David Vaughan and Lars Veldwijk were also brought in.
Missing were Michael Mancienne and Matty Fryatt, who both picked up knocks in midweek, while Henri Lansbury was serving the first of a two-match suspension after he picked up his tenth booking of the season against Birmingham.
Jamaal Lascelles and Jamie Paterson dropped to the bench alongside Karl Darlow, Louis Laing, Ben Osborn and young winger Oliver Burke, who made his Forest debut in September’s Capital One Cup clash with Tottenham Hotspur.
The Reds took charge of the game’s early exchanges, enjoying the majority of possession.
Burke embarked on a strong run down the right on nine minutes before being tripped as he cut into the area. Vaughan took charge of the free-kick, placing the ball on the line of the right-hand edge before seeing Dale keeper Josh Lillis punch his delivery away.
But three minutes later, the home side had a penalty. Antonio knocked the ball too far away from himself as he prepared to clear the ball from inside his own area, allowing Joe Rafferty to nip in ahead of him. Antonio tripped the full back and Vincenti dispatched the penalty to make it 1-0.
And Vincenti should have made it two shortly afterwards. Dale broked down the left and Callum Camps delivered a superb cross towards the back post. Vincenti struck the ball well on the volley but sent it a yard wide of the post.
Britt Assombalonga had a half-chance to level the scores on 17 minutes after Robert Tesche robbed Vicenti in the middle and played the ball forward. A Dale defender could only half-halt the ball’s progress, flicking it up for Assombalonga. He tried to lob the keeper from the edge of the area but sent the ball wide under pressure from a defender.
Rochdale were back on the attack four minutes later, pressing their visitors well to win a throw-in. They took it quickly, releasing Matthew Done into the right-hand channel. Stood up by three defenders near the byline, Done cut the ball back for Joel Logan 22 yards out. He curled it low at de Vries, who saved comfortably.
The Reds were struggling to find openings in their hosts’ defence, with set pieces looking their most fruitful prospect. Burke was fouled by Logan down the right and Vaughan’s inswinger looked destined for the far corner before Lillis managed to tip the ball wide for a corner.
Forest did break Rochdale’s line on 26 minutes courtesy of an excellent through ball by Antonio. Assombalonga latched on to it but support arrived too late to capitalise on the striker’s cut-back.
Pearce’s men kept up their pressure and good hold-up play by Veldwijk gave him the chance to offload the ball to Assombalonga. With his back to goal, Assombalonga showed quick feet to spin away from his marker before firing a shot straight at Lillis from outside the area.
The Dale keeper, along with defender Oliver Lancashire, required lengthy treatment on 28 minutes when the pair clashed heads when trying to deal with an awkward high ball in their own area. Both were deemed fit to continue.
The lengthy stoppage disrupted the flow of the game, preventing Forest from testing the groggy Lillis until the 39th minute. The keeper was left stranded by Vaughan’s corner but Antonio was unable to position his body well enough to head the ball on target from six yards, instead sending it wide.
It looked as if the match was merely going to peter into the interval, but on 44 minutes Rochdale had a golden opportunity to make it 2-0. Hobbs mishit his backpass and Done capitalised, attempting to round de Vries in the area. The keeper got a hand to the ball and it rolled to Jamie Allen. He wanted far too much time, however, and Danny Fox did well to get back, outmuscling Allen and taking possession.
Forest’s response was almost immediate, Antonio bundling his way past a number of defenders and into the area only to be halted by Rafferty’s excellent last-ditch tackle. Forest kept up their pressure, working the ball back to Antonio on the right. His low cross was cleared for a throw in as four minutes of added time were indicated, in the first of which Dale again came close to doubling their lead.
Done closed down de Vries, blocking his clearance and looping the ball just over Forest’s crossbar.
And the home side ended the half well in the ascendancy when Allen headed the ball goalwards after a cross from the right. De Vries watched it all the way, diving to his right to hold on and to ensure his side went into the break only a goal behind.
There were no changes for either side but Forest came close to altering the scoreline within five minutes of the restart. Brilliant wingplay from Burke saw him evade Scott Tanser down the right before delivering the perfect cross for Veldwijk in the middle. The striker glanced the ball across goal and just wide of the far post.
And there was another opening for The Reds a minute later when a Dale defender misjudged a high ball forward. Assombalonga raced on to it, showing good pace to go through one-on-one with Lillis. The keeper did well to rush out, narrowing the angle and blocking the shot low down.
The game then entered a scrappy spell but, buoyed by excellent noise from the away end, Burke set about sparking the match back into life. He picked the ball up in central midfield and worked himself into a long-range shooting position. He connected with the ball poorly, however, sending it harmlessly wide.
And Burke was off-target again minutes later. Assombalonga raced into the right-hand channel and took the ball into the area. He opted to lay it back to Burke who shifted it on to his left foot before sending it a yard wide.
Assombalonga was the first name in referee Gary Sutton’s notebook on 65 minutes after he tripped Allen in midfield. Rochdale worked the ball up to Done, who received it with his back to goal on the edge of the area, spun his marker and sent it wide with an effort he’ll no doubt have been disappointed with.
With 20 minutes to play, Forest pressed their hosts in the final third. Tesche did well to take the ball off Tanser before laying it to Burke in a crossing position. He found Assombalonga with his delivery but the striker was faced with a difficult header. He could only nod the ball over the crossbar.
Forest’s first change came on 74 minutes when McLaughlin replaced Fox at left back.
Burke was looking like Forest’s most likely route back into the match, and with 11 minutes to go he beat Tanser once again and cut in from the right. This time his low shot was blocked by a defender.
Dale were defending valiantly, but they were being tested more and more as full-time approached. Tesche latched on to a ball over the top to cross low into the middle. Assombalonga raced to meet it but couldn’t get a proper connection under pressure from a defender.
Forest kept the move alive, Tesche slipping Assombalonga through one-on-one from the edge of the area. Ashley Eastham made a terrific sliding tackle to block the striker’s shot.
Burke found himself in the book with four minutes remaining and was replaced by Paterson shortly before the clock hit 90.
Three minutes of added time were indicated, in the first of which Forest pumped a high ball into their hosts’ penalty area. It was met by a defensive header which looped up in the box for Veldwijk. Unmarked, the striker had time to nod it back across goal but Lillis was able to scramble across to tip it over the bar.
A succession of corners followed, one of which was half-cleared to McLaughlin 25 yards out. His strike was excellent but a Dale deflection diverted the ball over the bar.
Vaughan’s corner was cleared and Forest were unable to create another chance as Rochdale progressed to the fourth round.
Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Wilson, Hobbs (C), Fox (McLaughlin 74'), C. Burke (Paterson, 89'), Tesche, Vaughan, Antonio, Assombalonga, Veldwijk
Subs not used: Darlow, Lascelles, Laing, O.Burke, Osborn
Bookings: Assombalonga 65', Burke 86'
: Lillis, Rafferty, Bennett, Eastham, Lancashire (C), Vincenti, Done, Tanser, Allen (Andrew, 90'), Logan (Bunney, 69'), Camps (Cwyka, 83').Rochdale
Subs not used: Hery, Diba, Rose, Cannon.
Goal: Vincenti (Pen, 12')
Referee: Gary Sutton