A Ben Brereton brace was not enough to prevent Nottingham Forest Under 23s from a 3-2 defeat to Chesterfield in the Central League Cup this afternoon.
The striker fired Forest into a two-goal lead at half-time but a Chesterfield side which included a number of first-team players fought back after the break to win with goals from Conor Wilkinson, Rai Simons and Dan Gardner.
Brereton had an opportunity to open the scoring with only four minutes on the clock. The striker latched on to a long-range pass from Toby Edser and moved into the penalty area but goalkeeper Lloyd Allinson got down well to make a save at his near post.
The former Stoke City man beat Chesterfield defender George Lynam for pace, raced into the penalty area and produced a calm finish with the outside of his right foot to send the ball past Allinson and into the far corner of the net.
Brereton was causing all sorts of problems for the Spireites’ back four and could have doubled the lead soon after. Luke McCormick delivered an intelligent ball behind the defence for Brereton to run on to but his first-time shot went agonisingly wide of the far post.
Forest did extend their advantage on 28 minutes as Brereton converted from the penalty spot. The striker was brought down inside the area by Lynam and he stepped up to send Allinson the wrong way and put The Reds into a commanding first-half lead.
Virgil Gomis could have made it 3-0 with seven minutes to play in the first half. The ball broke kindly to the Frenchman just inside the penalty area and he struck a powerful effort towards goal but Allinson dived away to his right to palm it behind for a corner.
The Reds were playing some fluid football and Brereton came inches away from completing his hat-trick on 42 minutes. He flicked the ball up and over the defender and sent a superb volley towards the target but Allinson was able to push the ball on to the post and away to safety.
There were no changes at half-time but it took Chesterfield only two minutes of the second half to halve the deficit. Dan Gardner made a good run down the left and fed Simons inside the penalty area and although his shot was blocked, his strike partner Wilkinson was there to slot home the rebound from close range.
Forest responded well to conceding that goal and came inches away from restoring their two-goal lead. Good hold-up play from Brereton saw him tee up Jake Taylor on the edge of the box but the midfielder’s stinging drive narrowly cleared the crossbar.
With 55 minutes on the clock Chesterfield made Forest pay for missing their earlier chances. Simons latched on to a through-ball from Gardner and rounded Jordan Wright before he tapped the ball home into the unguarded net to bring the visitors level.
The visitors were enjoying the majority of the second-half possession but Forest had a golden chance to retake the lead on 69 minutes. Kyle McClean slid a perfect pass through the back four for Taylor to run on to but Allinson made a save with his legs to prevent him from finding the net.
Chesterfield did complete the turnaround with 12 minutes to go as Gardner scored from the penalty spot. Toby Edser brought down Conor Dimaio inside the box and Gardner sent Wright the wrong way from 12 yards.
Forest: J.Wright, Re, Preston, McClean (Smith 82’), Jemson, Ahmedhodzic, McCormick (Johnson 72’), Edser, Brereton, Taylor (Appiah 85’), Gomis
Subs not used: Soloha, Stewart
Goals: Brereton 8’, 28’ (pen)
Booking: Johnson 79’
Chesterfield: Allinson, Rowley, Morrison, Martinez, Smith, Lynam, Gardner, Dimaio, Simons, Wilkinson (Wakefield 62’), Ariyibi
Subs not used: Darwent, Parkin, Sennet, Philips
Goals: Wilkinson 47’, Simons 55’, Gardner 78’ (pen)