Nottingham Forest Under 18s secured an important 3-2 win over Crewe Alexandra at the Nigel Doughty Academy on Saturday afternoon.
The two teams went into the game locked on 31 points and as joint-leaders of the Professional Development League along with Sheffield United but it was The Reds who pulled clear following a superb first-half display.
A early goal from Joe Re put Forest ahead before a brace from Luke McCormick extended the advantage and despite a second-half fightback from the visitors, Forest held on to record a vital three points.
Sheffield United's 3-1 victory over Birmingham now means it is they and Forest who lead the way at the top of the table and head coach Gareth Holmes was delighted to see his side start 2017 in the best-possible fashion.
He said: "It was an excellent first half from us and it was the strongest display that we've seen from this young group of players so far. It is so good to see that the lads are making progress in every game they play.
"To go 3-0 up was fantastic and we saw a genuine collectors' item with a bullet header from Luke McCormick as well. There has been a lot of development in our football over recent weeks which is pleasing to see.
"The lads had to deal with something different in the second half as Crewe went more direct and pulled two goals back but credit to the players because they learnt from their mistakes and saw the game out."
Forest: Marques, Willetts, Barnes, Smith, Stewart, Jemson, McCormick, Re (c), Swan, Johnson, Appiah
Subs: Soloha, En-Neyah, Dekel, Andrews, Richardson