Nottingham Forest suffered a 1-0 defeat at Ipswich Town this afternoon.
Ben Pringle scored the game’s only goal just after the hour, compounding Forest’s frustrations after they had hit the bar and forced two excellent saves from Town’s keeper before the break.
Right winger Ryan Mendes returned to the starting line up as Dougie Freedman opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation. Dexter Blackstock led the line with Nelson Oliveira dropping deeper, while Gary Gardner paired up with David Vaughan in central midfield. Forest’s bench included Chris Cohen and 20-year-old Lithuanian international winger Deimantas Petravicius.
The Reds started well and forced Bartosz Bialkowski into two saves in quick succession with only three minutes on the clock. The first came after Ben Osborn picked out Oliveira with an excellent cross. The Portuguese forward powered his header goalwards but Bialkowski brilliantly got down to his right to push the ball wide. The resultant corner was met well by Gardner but he could only direct his header straight at the keeper.
Ipswich’s first chance came four minutes later when Freddie Sears wriggled free and played Bret Pitman into the area. The ball ran wide and, with the angle against him, Pitman couldn’t strike it cleanly and Dorus de Vries was able to make an easy save.
Sears was proving to be a pivotal figure in Town’s forward forays and he had his first chance on 12 minutes. His shot also came from a tight angle but de Vries saw fit to tip the ball wide at his near post.
Forest were looking assured, however, and they were left to curse Bialkowski again on 18 minutes. Town’s poor clearance allowed Blackstock to lay the ball off for Oliveira on the edge of the area. He had time to compose himself before curling it towards the far corner, only for the keeper to dive to his left and make an excellent save. The resultant corner came out to Gardner, whose shot bounced up off the turf and deflected wide off an Ipswich defender.
The Portman Road surface was a bobbly one and that nearly came to Sears’ aid on 21 minutes when the ball teed itself up kindly for him 25 yards out. His dipping strike stayed within comfortable range for de Vries, who pushed it away with relative ease.
Had it not been for Bialkowski’s impressive stops Forest could have already been 2-0 up, and it was the woodwork which would next frustrate Freedman’s men as they searched for the opening goal. Vaughan’s excellent corner was met in the middle by Mills but his header crashed off the crossbar.
Half chances followed for both sides as de Vries raced off his line to punch Kevin Bru’s dangerous cross away shortly after Oliveira couldn’t pick out a Forest man following some neat footwork near the Ipswich byline.
But Forest were undoubtedly having the better of the half and they almost had the goal they deserved seconds before the break. Oliveira’s delightful turn near the centre circle allowed him to supply Osborn down the left and the wide man produced a terrific cross. Gardner timed his run to perfection but could only head the ball over from six yards.
The second half started evenly but it was the visitors who claimed the first chance after the restart. Just before the hour, good hold up play by Oliveira led him to supplying Osborn in the area. On his weaker right foot, he fired the ball low and just wide of the post.
The roles were reversed moments later as Osborn threaded the ball through for Oliveira, who from a tight angle sent it sailing across the face of goal and out for a throw.
But, despite having so often gone close to taking the lead themselves, Forest found themselves behind on 63 minutes. Pitman laid the ball off for Pringle on the edge of the area and, despite Osborn’s closing down, the Fulham loanee curled it off the base of the post and over the line.
De Vries had dived despairingly to try and save Pringle’s effort, but he was able to make a crucial block five minutes later when Pitman sent the ball dipping and swerving towards goal with a long-range strike. The Dutch keeper managed to get a strong hand to it.
Freedman made a triple change on 78 minutes as Bojan Jokic, Mendes and Oliveira came off for Cohen, Jorge Grant and debutant Petravicius.
But Forest were struggling to trouble their hosts as they had done earlier in the match and, despite five minutes of added time in which Ipswich exhibited some nervousness, The Reds were unable to find an equaliser.
Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mancienne, Mills (c), Jokic (Cohen 78'), Mendes (Petravicius 78'), Gardner, Vaughan, Osborn, Oliveira (Grant 78'), Blackstock
Subs not used: Evtimov, Wilson, O'Grady, Tesche
Bookings: Blackstock 6', Mancienne 60', Oliveira 73', Grant 82'
: Bialkowski, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen, Foley, Hyam, Bru (Ipswich
Maitland-Niles 46'), Pringle (Digby 90'), Pitman (Varney 90'), Sears
Subs not used: Gerken, Tabb, Dozzell, Toure
Goal: Pringle 63'
Booking: Hyam 73'
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 20,658 (1,088 away)