Forest 2-1 Aston VillaBen Brereton struck his first senior goal for Nottingham Forest in injury time to seal a dramatic 2-1 win over Aston Villa at The City Ground.
Britt Assombalonga scored just before half time to cancel out Jonathan Kodjia's opener for Villa but substitute Brereton fired home from 10 yards to seal three points for The Reds against an Aston Villa side who were reduced to 10 men following Jack Grealish's red card.
Interim manager Gary Brazil handed a Forest debut to Zach Clough after his deadline-day signing from Bolton Wanderers, replacing Brereton, and Matty Cash also came into the team for the injured Jack Hobbs.
The tempo at the start of the half was slow as both sides tried to find their rhythm. Clough got a shot away from the edge of the box and Kodjia forced Stephen Henderson into a save from a long-range drive but it was Villa new boy Scott Hogan who had the first clear-cut chance on 16. He danced through a couple of challenges and it took a last-ditch challenge from Eric Lichaj to stop the former Brentford man from scoring.
Villa weren't to be denied for long as on 19 they were in front. An error from Matty Cash gave possession back to Villa and Jack Grealish teed up Kodjia on the edge of the box who curled an effort past Henderson.
The Reds responded well to the set-back and tested Sam Johnstone with a couple of efforts but nothing that really troubled the on-loan Manchester United stopper. Clough came close to getting off the mark in the Garibaldi with a curling free kick on 36 which drifted just wide but Forest were level on 42 through Assombalonga.
Jamie Ward's well-struck effort could only be parried by Johnstone and Assombalonga was quickest to pounce on the loose ball and fire home a deserved equaliser after plenty of pressure on the Villa goal.
Villa came out in the second half looking to take the game to The Reds and Forest were indebted to goalkeeper Henderson as he pulled of two top-draw saves. Firstly on 57 as Hogan raced through and he got down low with a strong hand to keep out his effort and secondly on 69 as Tommy Elphick flicked an effort at goal from 12 yards which the Irishman flung to his left to tip away.
A key moment arrived on 78 minutes as Villa's Jack Grealish was shown his marching orders for a second yellow card. He received a needless booking in the first half for kicking the ball away and that proved costly as he brought Lichaj down as the full back looked to launch a counter attack.
The red card spurred The Reds on and substitute Brereton looked lively up top, fizzing an effort just over after a smart turn in the box on 90 and he sent The City Ground delirious with his first senior goal in injury time.
Dani Pinillos swung in a cross from the left and Assombalonga challenged for the ball. It bounced invitingly for Brereton and he showed superb composure to fire a low effort in off the post to seal a vital three points.
Forest: Henderson, Lichaj (c), Pinillos, Mancienne, Fox, Cash (Brereton 69'), Vaughan, Osborn, Ward (Lam 77'), Clough (Carayol 87'), Assombalonga
Subs: Stojkovic, Kasami, Worrall, Vellios
Goals: Assombalonga 42', Brereton 90'
Booking: Cash 38'
Aston Villa: Johnstone, Bree, Elphick, Chester, Baker, Lansbury (Green 85'), Hourihane, Bjarnason, Grealish, Kodjia (Bacuna 81'), Hogan (Adomah 83')
Subs: Bunn, Hutton, Gardner, Amavi
Goal: Kodjia 19'
Bookings: Grealish 31', 78', Hogan 45'
Red card: Grealish 78'
Referee: Paul Tierney
Attendance: 19,866 (1,946 away)