Nottingham Forest Under 23s suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bolton Wanderers in their last home game of the season at Alfreton Town’s Impact Arena.
Three goals in 12 first-half minutes gave Wanderers a commanding lead at the interval and despite Hildeberto Pereira's consolation goal from the penalty spot, Forest had left it too late to take anything from the contest.
The Reds were nearly ahead with three minutes on the clock as Yassine En-Neyah forced a brilliant save from Will Jaaskelainen with a curling shot being tipped on to the crossbar by the visiting goalkeeper.
Forest continued to edge The Trotters in the opening stages of the game and almost went ahead when Pereira cut inside and fired his shot just over the bar on the quarter-hour mark.
Bolton’s first big chance came after 25 minutes when George Newell was played in and as he drove a low effort down to Jordan Wright’s right-hand side, the Forest keeper got down solidly to deal with the strike.
However, the vistors went ahead just three minutes later when Matt Fearnley brought the ball down well and struck his effort off the far post and into Wright's goal from just outside the penalty area.
Bolton continued to control the game and were awarded a penalty as Jack Earling was adjudged to have been brought down just inside the area in the 35th minute. Newell was on hand to confidently double the visitors' lead from 12 yards, firing past Wright and into the right-hand side of the net.
Forest’s first-half woes continued when a mistake from goalkeeper Wright handed Bolton their third as Sam Lavelle scrambled the ball through a crowd of bodies and into the back of the net. The half-time whistle blew with the visitors holding a commanding lead.
Neither side were able to take the early initiative in a cagey opening to the second half but there was an opportunity for Forest substitute Choz Charlesworth as he cut inside of his man and struck a powerful effort into the hands of Jaaskelainen from a wide angle.
Forest seemed to be gaining the upper hand and continued to ask questions of Jaaskelainen, who was on hand once again to deny a long-range effort nine minutes into the second period.
At the other end, Bolton almost added a fourth on the hour mark when a deep cross caught the Forest defenders out but fortunately was headed narrowly wide by Newell as he met it just a few yards from the Forest goal.
Shortly after, in what had been an entertaining second half, Pereira was brought down inside the box. The referee once again pointed to the spot and the Portuguese defender stepped up with an emphatic penalty to hand The Reds a lifeline with 25 minutes to go.
Unfortunately for Jack Lester's side, they were unable to capitalise on the goal and the remainder of the second half bore too few chances for them to force their way back into the game. A late strike again ricocheted off Jaaskelainen’s left post in the final minute but it ultimately proved to be a deserved victory for an organised Bolton side.
Forest: Wright, Pereira, Preston (Charlesworth 46'), Ahmedhodzic, Iacovitti, Crookes, En-Neyah (Appiah 69'), Edser, Gomis, Trialist, Trialist (Taylor 84')