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Cardiff 1-0 Forest

17 April 2017

Aron Gunnarsson's second-half strike ensured Nottingham Forest were beaten by a goal to nil by Cardiff City in the Welsh capital this afternoon.

The Reds missed a host of chances before and after the Icelandic international's effort with 20 minutes remaining and they were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal as they left the Cardiff City Stadium empty-handed.

Mark Warburton made three changes to the side that suffered defeat to Blackburn Rovers on Good Friday as Daniel Pinillos, Danny Fox and Mustapha Carayol came into the side in place of Armand Traore, Matt Mills and Zach Clough respectively.

The home side made the brighter start in gloomy conditions in the Welsh capital and Fox had to make an excellent covering challenge to prevent Cardiff's rangy striker Kenneth Zohore from getting in behind the Forest back four.

Forest fashioned their first opening as Carayol's strong run ended with his cross being stabbed away by Bruno Ecuele Manga before Peter Whittingham hammered a long-range effort against Jordan Smith's crossbar at the other end.

Goalscoring opportunities were at a premium in the first half as Eric Lichaj and David Vaughan both fired high and wide of the target but Carayol came much closer to scoring on the half-hour mark as his low strike narrowly missed Allan McGregor's left-hand post.

Carayol was proving difficult to handle for Cardiff and he had the final chance of the first half. The Gambian international cut inside from the left flank, beat his man and fired a low shot which rippled the side netting before it hit the stanchion behind the goal.

There were no changes for either side at the half-time interval and Forest had the better of the second half's opening exchanges. Chris Cohen's shot was blocked out as far as Jamie Ward but the Northern Irishman dragged his effort wide of the target.

It was a relatively-even contest and Neil Warnock's men then had chances of their own to break the deadlock as Zohore produced a save from Smith before Anthony Pilkington curled a free-kick wide of goal from the edge of the penalty area.

Set-pieces looked likely to be the key for Cardiff to find the opening goal and as Whittingham delivered a dangerous curling free-kick into the penalty area, it took a touch before it looped on to Smith's crossbar. Referee Andrew Madley had spotted a foul in any case and awarded Forest a free-kick.

Carayol sprung back into life midway through the second half as he stung McGregor's palms with a low shot from inside the box before his cross two minutes later had to be turned behind for a corner by the City goalkeeper.

The Reds had begun to up the ante as they looked for the important opening goal but they were hit with a sucker-punch moments later. A cross from Kadeem Harris was cleared only as far as Gunnarsson and he arrowed a strike into the corner of the net for his third goal against Forest in as many matches.

Despite the setback, Warburton's men responded well and a superb corner from Carayol was glanced wide of the far post by Fox from on the penalty spot. The Forest boss then made a double change as Britt Assombalonga and Clough came on for Ward and Ben Brereton respectively.

With five minutes to play, Forest carved out the opportunity they so desperately craved but, once again, were unable to take it. Carayol's pin-point cross found its way on to the head of third substitute Apostolos Vellios but he could only direct his header on to the crossbar before Cardiff cleared the danger.

That was to be the last chance The Reds could create at the Cardiff City Stadium as they slipped to a disappointing defeat. They are now left just a point above the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone ahead of another huge game against Reading at The City Ground on Saturday.

Forest: Smith, Lichaj, Fox, Worrall, Pinillos (Vellios 81'), Cohen (c), Vaughan, Osborn, Carayol, Brereton (Clough 76'), Ward (Assombalonga 75')

Subs not used: Evtimov, Mancienne, Lam, Cash

: McGregor, Peltier (CardiffRichards 64'), Bennett, Morrison (c), Ecuele Manga, Whittingham (Halford 86'), Pilkington (Ralls 77'), Gunnarsson, Harris, Zohore, Hoilett

Subs not used: Murphy, Noone, Lambert, Harris

Goal: Gunnarsson 70'

Referee: Andrew Madley

Attendance: 16,413 (888 away)

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