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Forest 3-2 Reading

22 April 2017

Nottingham Forest came out on top in a humdinger of a clash at The City Ground, beating Reading 3-2 to ease their relegation worries.

A Britt Assombalonga brace and a strike from Mustapha Carayol put The Reds in control with a 3-0 lead, but Reading hit back through two Yann Kermorgant goals to set up a tense finale but Forest held firm to seal a crucial win.

Mark Warburton made two changes to the side which lost at Cardiff on Easter Monday, with Michael Mancienne and Assombalonga taking the places of Dani Pinillos and Jamie Ward who both dropped to the bench.

The Reds started brightly with Carayol causing real problems for the Royals defence. The winger showed great pace and skill to beat his man three times inside the opening 15 minutes, twice his final ball letting him down but on 15 he found Ben Brereton at the back post who couldn't divert his header into the net at the back post with Ali Al Habsi out of position in the Reading goal.

Forest were well on top and took a fully deserved lead just after the half-hour mark through Assombalonga. A loose ball across the midfield by former Red Chris Gunter was latched onto by Brereton who played a great through ball to Assombalonga. The striker controlled and prodded past the on-rushing Al Habsi and into the far corner of the net to give Forest a vital lead.  

Jordan Smith was forced into his solitary save of the half on 34 as he tipped Lewis Grabban's effort over the bar but that was in a rare foray forwards for the visitors as The Reds dominated. 

It was almost two right on the stroke of half time as Danny Fox played a superb threaded pass through for Ben Osborn to run onto and the midfielder rounded Al Habsi but couldn't reach the ball as Danny Williams covered to clear. 

Forest didn't have to wait long to double their advantage though as two minutes after the break and Assombalonga had his second of the afternoon. Osborn showed great footwork on the right of the area to turn his man and create a yard of space to cross to the near post where Assombalonga planted a powerful header past Al Habsi.

There was no stopping Forest and they raced into a 3-0 lead on 54 as Carayol got the goal that his outstanding performance deserved. The winger received the ball from a Fox throw-in on the left, turned into the area, shimmied, then fired a low shot past Al Habsi for his first goal for the club. 

The Reds had looked well in control of the match but allowed Reading a way back into the match on 58 as Kermorgant struck from close range. A corner from Jordan Obita was scrambled clear then the full back was on hand to deliver again for the veteran forward at the back post to head over Smith and in off the crossbar. 

Back came Forest as an Osborn free kick was parried by Al Habsi to Joe Worrall who was denied by a block, then from the resulting corner Carayol charged into the box after The Reds played it short and his effort was cleared off the line.

Reading made Forest pay for those missed opportunities as they pulled another back on 74. Another cross into the box wasn't cleared and Kermorgant was again on hand to fire home on the turn past a helpless Smith to set up a nervy ending.

It was just that as Reading came forward in search of an unlikely equaliser and Forest tried to keep them at arm's length and be a threat on the counter attack. John Swift fired wide of the target from 25 yards on 81 and Gunter had big appeals for a penalty waved away two minutes later, with the Welsh international shown a yellow card for his protestations. 

There was great relief as the game entered injury time as Assombalonga stuck the ball home from Eric Lichaj's low cross for what appeared to be his hat-trick, only to see it chalked off as the assistant referee had his flag raised on the far side for offside. 

But, ultimately it didn't matter as Forest held out for a vital three points in their battle against relegation and a win which moved them further away from the drop zone with two games remaining.

Forest: Smith, Lichaj, Worrall, Mancienne, Fox (Pinillos 77'), Carayol (Cash 81'), Cohen (c), Vaughan, Osborn, Brereton (Ward 72'), Assombalonga

Unused subs: Evtimov, Tshibola, Clough, Vellios

Goals: Assombalonga 31', 47, Carayol 54'

Bookings: Vaughan 12', Ward 90'

Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter (c), Moore, Kelly, Blackett, Grabban, Williams (Evans 52'), Swift (Mendes 84'), Obita, Popa (Beerens 52'), Kermorgant

Unused subs: Jaakkola, Meite, Ilori, Oxford

Goals: Kermorgant 58', 74'

Bookings: Blackett 29', Gunter 83'

Attendance: 20,323 (1,014 away)

Referee: Geoff Eltringham

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