Forest 0-1 BlackburnA Tommie Hoban header with twelve minutes left was the difference as Nottingham Forest lost 1-0 against relegation rivals Blackburn Rovers.
In a cagey affair it was the visitors who came out on top as they secured three points to pull The Reds within two points of the drop zone heading into the Easter Monday fixtures.
Mark Warburton named an unchanged side following the 2-0 win over Huddersfield on Saturday, meaning that he kept faith with the three-man defence which kept a clean sheet against The Terriers.
The Reds started brightly and looked a threat moving forward. A neat flick by Jamie Ward slipped Chris Cohen in down the left on four minutes, and his pull-back for Zach Clough was good but a Rovers man was able to nip in to deflect his effort wide.
After a strong opening 10 minutes from Forest, Blackburn started to settle and offered Forest little time on the ball. They had identified David Vaughan in particular as someone to close down quickly, putting pay to any quick moves forward by Forest.
Rovers' first chance of the game arrived on 12 minutes after Armand Traore was booked for bringing down Connor Mahoney on the edge of the penalty area, and the winger was unlucky to see his curling free kick drift just wide of Jordan Smith's right-hand post.
A clear-cut chance arrived on 20 minutes for Forest as Jamie Ward pounced on a loose back-pass, allowing him to race in on goal. One touch too many allowed former Reds defender Elliott Ward to recover and put in a vital block as Forest's Ward shot at goal.
The Reds were finding it difficult to build any rhythm as Blackburn pressed them on the ball and forced the men in red into mistakes. Eric Lichaj shot over on 41 following a short corner and Hope Akpan glanced a header just wide of the far post following a dangerous delivery by Mahoney on 44 as neither side could find the target.
A deflection prevented Ben Brereton from doing that in added time as he jinked past one challenge and saw his shot narrowly fly over the crossbar via a Blackburn boot, and the 17-year-old almost scored an outrageous half-volley with the last kick of the half as he hit Ward's knock-down from around 40 yards just over the bar.
Michael Mancienne replaced Matt Mills at the break and that change saw Forest revert to a four-man defence and it created a great attacking impetus. Ben Osborn couldn't divert Brereton's cross in on 51 minutes and Clough struck a great free kick on 53 minutes but stand-in Rovers keeper David Raya saved well and held on to the ball too.
Forest were patient with their build up as they probed for openings in the resolute Rovers defence. Traore found space on the left flank and charged at goal on 62, only to see his effort deflect just wide of the far post, and Lichaj's brilliant low cross fizzed across the face of goal a few minutes later with no one there to finish off the chance.
Despite having the majority of the possession, The Reds fell behind to Hoban's header on 78 minutes. Derrick Williams forced a corner and from Mahoney's delivery, centre back Hoban rose highest at the far post to nod into the corner of the net.
A big chance arrived on 86 minutes for substitute Britt Assombalonga as he controlled Lichaj's low cross in the area, spun and smashed an effort at goal which Raya somehow got in the way of and kept the ball out of the net.
The Rovers defence stood firm as Forest struggled to create opportunities to find the vital equaliser in the closing stages which meant that Forest were pulled back closer to the relegation spots.
Forest: Smith, Worrall, Mills (Mancienne 46'), Traore, Lichaj, Cohen (c), Vaughan (Cash 60'), Clough, Osborn, Ward (Assombalonga 71'), Brereton
Unused subs: Evtimov, Carayol, Lam, Vellios
Bookings: Traore 11', Osborn 77', Cohen 90'
Blackburn: Raya, Hoban, Williams, Lowe (c), Feeney (Stokes 63'), Ward, Gallagher (Joao 71'), Akpan, Nyambe, Mahoney, Bennett
Unused subs: Fisher, Emnes, Guthrie, Tomlinson, Brown
Goal: Hoban 78'
Bookings: Ward 53', Williams 65', Bennett 74', Joao 90'
Attendance: 26,279 (1,638 away)
Referee: Roger East