Summer signing Matt Mills set Nottingham Forest on their way to a 3-0 victory at Stevenage this evening.
The defender turned the ball home following a corner early in the first half before Henri Lansbury made it 2-0 from the penalty spot.
Jack Hobbs added a third late on to cap a convincing performance from Dougie Freedman’s men.
The Reds could have been 1-0 up in the second minute when trialist Nicky Maynard slipped Lansbury into the area. Stevenage keeper Chris Day produced a good save to tip the midfielder’s shot wide.
It was proving to be a busy start for Day, who made a good save from a long-range Michail Antonio effort before narrowing the angle well to deny Robert Tesche.
The keeper then made an excellent save from a superb Antonio header, only to be beaten at the subsequent corner.
Hobbs headed the ball down in the middle and, with his back to goal, Mills flicked the ball into the bottom corner to give his side a 13th-minute lead.
It had been a dominant start from the visitors and, after Stevenage’s Brett Williams headed the ball over the bar and Danny Fox made a good block to deny Tom Pett in the area, Freedman’s men resumed control and soon made it 2-0 from the penalty spot.
Antonio won the penalty, slowing down to invite Dipo Akinyemi’s challenge before bursting away and being tripped just inside the area. Lansbury opted for power with the spot kick and, although Day got a hand to the ball, doubled his side’s advantage.
The game entered a brief lull before Forest took the match to their hosts again as the interval approached.
On 32 minutes, Tesche burst away in the middle. Maynard drifted into space to receive the ball from the German before drawing a good save from Day, who used his feet to deny the striker.
A minute later, Eric Lichaj became the next man to have an effort at goal. He capitalised on a slip by a Stevenage defender but could only flash the ball across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
The chances kept coming for Forest, who won a free-kick down the right. Lansbury’s delivery was excellent for Antonio at the back post but, under close attention from his marker, the winger could only guide the ball straight at Day from six yards.
Stevenage broke away and tested de Vries for the first time as Akinyemi scooped the ball goalwards. The Dutchman got back to his line to push it away before reclaiming it comfortably.
But it was Forest who claimed the final chances of the half, turning over possession brilliantly and releasing Lansbury down the right. He pulled the ball back for Maynard who saw his shot blocked. The ball looped up in the area for Ward but he could only blast it high over the bar.
There were no changes for Forest at the break but four minutes after the restart Jamie Paterson replaced the hobbling Antonio.
It was a quiet start to the second half, the first chance falling to Forest on 66 minutes when Ward sent the ball dipping goalwards from 30 yards. Day pushed it away but The Reds kept the move alive. Paterson worked himself into a shooting position in the area but miscued his effort, sending the ball out for a throw and prompting Freedman’s second change of the night: Chris Burke for Ward.
David Vaughan was next to be introduced, replacing Mills, and Forest created a good opening after Lansbury did well to pick out Paterson down the left. The substitute cut inside on his right foot but could only bend the ball wide of the far post.
A minute later, de Vries was called upon to make a smart fingertip save to deny a Stevenage trialist.
Freedman handed a Forest trialist their chance to impress shortly afterwards, sending Paul Taylor on for Maynard with 11 minutes to play before replacing Tesche with Ben Osborn and Lansbury with Jorge Grant.
The game looked to be petering out until the 88th minute when Stevenage failed to deal with Osborn’s cross, presenting Hobbs with the chance to guide the ball home in composed fashion.
Two further changes followed as Danny Fox and Michael Mancienne made way for Roger Riera and Stephen McLaughlin, but there was little time for either to make an impact as the match ended 3-0.
Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills (Vaughan 73'), Hobbs, Fox (Riera 89'), Ward (C.Burke 66'), Mancienne (McLaughlin 89'), Lansbury (c) (Grant 87'), Tesche (Osborn 83'), Antonio (Paterson 49'), Maynard (Taylor 79')
Sub not used: Evtimov
Goals: Mills 13', Lansbury (pen) 20', Hobbs 88'
Stevenage: Day, Henry (Casey 66'), Okimo (Sweeney 80'), McAllister (Conlon 66'), Franks (Johnson 57'), Hughes (Smyth 73'), Pett (Yamfam 80'), Parrett (Kerr 73'), Williams, Lee (Gorman 66'), Akinyemi
Referee: Andy Woolmer