Forest 4-3 Burton AlbionA brace from Britt Assombalonga helped Nottingham Forest to a 4-3 win over Burton Albion in a thrilling opening-day encounter at The City Ground.
Assombalonga gave Forest the lead, only for Burton to hit the front themselves through strikes from Lucas Akins and Lloyd Dyer but Thomas Lam restored parity in first-half stoppage time.
Goals from Oliver Burke and Assombalonga then seemingly gave The Reds a comfortable three points but Tom Naylor struck in the final minute of normal time to throw the result back into the balance.
But Forest held on to claim the victory on the opening day and give them a confidence boost ahead of tough Championship trips to Brighton and Brentford in the next ten days.
Philippe Montanier named his first starting line-up for a competitive fixture as Forest boss and he gave starts to five academy graduates with Ben Osborn, Jorge Grant, Oliver Burke, Matty Cash and Alex Iacovitti all in the side.
Thomas Lam and Hildeberto Pereira also made their Forest debuts while former Reds striker Chris O'Grady lined up for Nigel Clough's newly-promoted Burton Albion side.
Burke caused the visitors problems in the early stages as he volleyed well wide from Iacovitti's left-wing cross before his delightful ball into the penalty area had to be hacked away to safety by Albion defender Ben Turner.
Assombalonga curled a speculative effort over the crossbar but soon after Forest were hit by a blow. De Vries collided in mid-air with Akins and took an awkward fall which saw him stretchered off and replaced by Stephen Henderson.
The Reds had the lead midway through the first half as Assombalonga opened his account for the season. Grant sent a shot towards the far corner and the Forest striker was on hand to tap the ball home from close-range as the assistant referee's flag stayed down.
The atmosphere inside The City Ground was electric but Burton soon punctured that with an equaliser in similar fashion. Forest struggled to clear a corner and as the ball bobbled around inside the box, Akins stabbed it past Henderson to level the scored.
Forest were stunned and were then behind three minutes later. O'Grady played the ball back to former Leicester winger Dyer on the edge of the box and he curled a shot past Henderson's grasp and in to the far corner to put the visitors ahead.
Yellow cards came for both sides as the game got even more competitive. Henri Lansbury was cautioned for Forest while Turner and Hamza Choudhury were the Burton men to go into the referee's notebook.
Montanier's side stepped up the pressure in search of an equaliser and were rewarded in first-half stoppage time. Osborn's corner were cleared out only as far as Lam and the summer signing sent a sweet low strike in to the net as Jon McLaughlin was left stranded.
New signing Pajtim Kasami replaced Grant at the break and Forest were in front again four minutes into the second half. Kasami saw two efforts blocked by the Burton defence but with the second, the ball fell kindly into the path of Burke who stroke the ball into the far corner.
Burton were still looking dangerous at the other end though and it took two goal-saving challenges from Matt Mills and Hildeberto to prevent O'Grady from levelling the scores once again from inside the penalty area.
Forest finally looked like they had settled a helter-skelter game with 13 minutes to play as Assombalonga grabbed his second goal of the game. Hildeberto's powerful strike hit a Burton defender, looped up and over McLaughlin and Assombalonga was on the spot to head home on the goal-line.
The goalscoring wasn't finished and The Brewers gave themselves a lifeline in the final minute of normal time as Naylor headed home an inch-perfect cross from Choudhury to ensure their would be plenty of nerves around the ground in stoppage time.
But Forest held on to claim an important opening-day win and give Montanier his first competitive victory in charge of The Reds ahead of Tuesday night's EFL Cup first-round tie away at Doncaster Rovers.
Forest: de Vries (Henderson 19'), Pereira (Lichaj 85') Lam, Mills, Iacovitti, Burke, Grant (Kasami 46'), Cash, Osborn, Lansbury (c), Assombalonga
Subs not used: Veldwijk, Vaughan, Perquis, Vellios
Goals: Assombalonga 23', 77', Lam 45', Burke 49'
Booking: Lansbury 35'
: Burton AlbionMcLaughlin, Flanagan (McCrory 82'), McFadzean, Turner, Choudhury, Palmer, Mousinho (c), Williamson (Naylor 65'), Dyer, Akins, O'Grady (Beavon 72')
Subs not used: Bywater, Butcher, Edwards, Harness
Goals: Akins 27', Dyer 30', Naylor 90'
Bookings: Turner 33', Choudhury 40'
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 23,012 (1,652 away)