Jamie Ward says Nottingham Forest were forced to use all their experience and know-how to get through last night's 2-1 victory at Doncaster Rovers in the EFL Cup.
The Northern Ireland international struck a stoppage-time winner to send Forest through to the second round and Ward admitted it was a tricky test amid the driving wind and rain at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Speaking after the game he said: "The most important thing was to get through to the next round. There was probably a ten-minute spell where we looked in trouble but we've worked hard and got the rewards right at the end.
"It was good to have an experienced side out there. Doncaster made it really tough for us as we knew they would and we needed all of that experience to help get us through and get the right result.
"It was a great move for the winner, Pato got into the gap and played me in inside the penalty area and all I had to do from there was finish it."
Ward was making his first start of the campaign after playing at the European Championships in the summer and says Philippe Montanier's arrival as head coach has made fierce competition for places in the squad.
He said: "You can tell how capable our squad is by the fact we've put out nine different players tonight and won the game. It's going to be a battle for places this season for everyone and that's how we want it, we don't want it easy.
"At the moment we're the same as the manager, we don't know what his best team is but the players tonight are hopefully pushing for places on Friday night.
"The manager has a winning mentality and at the moment that is driving us forward as a group. If you don't have a winning mentality then you shouldn't be playing football but we're in a confident place right now."
Tickets are still available for the next two home games against Wigan Athletic and Leeds United via tickets.nottinghamforest.co.uk, in-person at the ticket office or by calling 0115 982 4388.