Nottingham Forest returned to winning ways this afternoon with a 3-2 victory over Bolton Wanderers at The City Ground.
Goals from Barrie McKay, Joe Worrall and Ben Brereton helped Forest to all three points as they moved back into the top half of the Sky Bet Championship table.
Mark Warburton made two changes to the side beaten at Ipswich Town last weekend as Armand Traore and David Vaughan were replaced by Matt Mills and McKay respectively.
Seeking to respond to the disappointing result at Portman Road, Forest started brightly and had the lead inside three minutes. Tyler Walker raced down the right-hand channel and delivered a perfect cross for McKay to slide into the net from close range.
Five minutes before half-time and Forest could have doubled their lead. Walker’s low shot was spilled by Bolton goalkeeper Ben Alnwick but the visitors’ defence managed to smuggle the ball behind for a corner before Daryl Murphy could take advantage.
That was to prove crucial as Bolton levelled matters on the stroke of half-time. Josh Vela delivered a right-wing cross right on to the head of Buckley and he made no mistake as he powered his effort beyond Jordan Smith and into the Forest net.
There were no changes for either side at half-time but it was the visitors who should have been in front soon after the interval. Vela’s right-wing corner found an unmarked Gary Madine inside the Forest penalty area but he thundered his header inches wide of the target.
Forest were struggling to gain any sort of momentum and were fortunate not to go behind on 58 minutes. A superb cross from Buckley picked out Vela, again unmarked, six yards out from goal but he placed his header over the crossbar.
The Reds had ridden their luck during the opening stages of the second half and took the lead back, against the run of play, on the hour mark. Bolton were only able to head the ball as far as Worrall who was lurking on the edge of the penalty area and he sent a low, rasping drive beyond Alnwick for his first goal in the Garibaldi.
Warburton then made a double substitution as Mustapha Carayol and Andreas Bouchalakis were introduced to replace McKay and Ben Osborn respectively.
With five minutes remaining, The Reds could have sealed their victory. Liam Bridcutt did superbly to win the ball from two sliding challenges, moved it out wide to Walker but as the youngster raced into the penalty area, he could only blaze his shot wide of the target.
That miss wasn’t to matter as Forest seemingly rounded off the afternoon with a third goal. Brereton, who had come on for Daryl Murphy, used his speed to out-pace the Bolton defence and slid the ball under the body of Alnwick to seal all three points for The Reds.
However, in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the second half, Bolton grabbed a lifeline. Aaron Wilbraham’s shot across goal was turned into his own net by Worrall to ensure a nervy ending.
Despite referee Darren England’s decision to play two minutes more than were indicated, Forest held on to claim an important three points and return to winning ways ahead of next weekend’s trip to Bristol City.
Forest: Smith; Mancienne (c), Worrall, Mills, Lichaj; Bridcutt, Osborn (Bouchalakis 63’); Walker, Dowell, McKay (Carayol 63’); Murphy (Brereton 82’)
Subs not used: Henderson, Cash, Clough, Ward
Goals: McKay 3’, Worrall 60’, Brereton 89’
Booking: Mills 32’, Bridcutt 90'
Bolton: Alnwick; Little (Wilbraham 88’), Burke, Beeves, Robinson; Buckley (Armstrong 70’), Pratley (c) (Noone 80’), Henry, Vela, Ameobi; Madine
Subs not used: Howard, Taylor, Cullen, Wheater
Goals: Buckley 45’, Worrall (og) 90’
Bookings: Robinson 30’, Henry 87’
Referee: Darren England
Attendance: 22,882 (1,082 away)