Kieran Dowell scored a memorable hat-trick as Nottingham Forest ran out 3-2 winners over Hull City at the KCOM Stadium.
Dowell’s brace had put Forest in command before Jarrod Bowen reduced the arrears but the Everton loanee struck again from the penalty spot to give The Reds all three points despite Michael Hector’s late strike for Hull.
Mark Warburton made three changes to the side that beat Burton Albion last weekend as Tendayi Darikwa, Joe Worrall and Dowell replaced Armand Traore, Danny Fox and Daryl Murphy respectively.
The home side began brightly with Jarrod Bowen looking a threat down the right-hand side but it was Forest who had the first sight of goal on 14 minutes. Jason Cummings delivered a cross from the right but Ben Osborn, who arrived at the back post, saw his shot deflected over by Ola Aina.
David Vaughan was booked for a late challenge on David Meyler but on 29 minutes The Reds had the lead. Dowell picked the ball up in space inside the Hull half and marauded forward and having ridden one challenge, he unleashed a venomous shot from 25 yards which arrowed into the net.
The goal seemed to wake Hull from a slumber as they hit back well. Kamil Grosicki’s curling effort was well held by Jordan Smith before the Forest goalkeeper had to stand tall to deny Meyler from close range after Forest had failed to clear a corner from the right.
There were goalscoring opportunities for both sides towards the end of the first half. First, Joe Worrall produced a tremendous block inside his own penalty area to prevent Grosicki from bringing Hull level after he got on the end of Bowen’s pull-back.
In the final minute of first-half stoppage time, Forest almost doubled their advantage in sublime fashion. Eric Lichaj’s chipped ball found Osborn inside the Hull penalty area and he connected with a stunning volley which rattled Allan McGregor’s crossbar and bounced away to safety.
Hull boss Leonid Slutsky made a double substitution at half-time with Jon Toral and Jackson Irvine replacing Markus Henriksen and Grosicki and his side almost levelled matters on 51 minutes. A free-kick from 25 yards hit the wall and fell kindly for Frazier Campbell just inside the box and even though Smith spilled his shot, Joe Worrall was there to clear the danger.
Forest were living dangerously and had to survive another scare on 63 minutes. A corner was drifted into the box from the right-hand side and Hector had seemingly headed home the equaliser before Cummings intervened and diverted the ball over from underneath his own crossbar.
That moment was to prove crucial as Warburton’s side doubled the lead on 71 minutes. A well-crafted move involving substitute Tyler Walker and Barrie McKay ended with Dowell sweeping home his second goal of the night with the help of the far post.
To their credit, Hull refused to lie down and halved the deficit five minutes later. Meyler laid the ball off to Bowen on the edge of the penalty area and he bent a terrific shot beyond Smith and into the top corner of the net to give The Tigers some renewed hope.
Having withstood some pressure from the hosts, Forest looked to have sealed the three points on 84 minutes as Dowell completed his hat-trick. Walker was bundled over inside the penalty area and the Everton loanee stepped up to calmly send McGregor the wrong way and give The Reds their two-goal lead back.
Still the game wasn’t over though as Hull hit back again with two minutes to play. Forest failed to clear a free-kick which had been launched into their penalty area and Hector was on hand to lash the ball into the net and give the visitors a few more nervous moments.
Dowell had a chance to score his fourth goal of the night as he saw a low shot saved by McGregor’s legs but it wasn’t to matter as Forest held on to secure another important victory and move to within a point of the top six in the Sky Bet Championship.
Forest: Smith; Darikwa, Worrall, Mancienne (c), Lichaj; Bridcutt, Vaughan (Bouchalakis 70’); McKay (Ward 80’), Dowell, Osborn; Cummings (Walker 70’)
Subs not used: Henderson, Mills, Clough, Brereton
Goals: Dowell 29’, 71’, 84’ (pen)
Bookings: Vaughan 24’, Ward 86’, Walker 90’
Hull: McGregor; Aina, Dawson (c), Hector, Clark; Meyler, Larsson; Bowen, Henriksen (Toral 46’ (Dicko 54’)), Grosicki (Irvine 46’); Campbell
Subs not used: Marshall, Diomande, Tomori, Stewart
Goals: Bowen 76’, Hector 88’
Bookings: Larsson 61’, Irvine 64’, Dawson 68’, Clark 74’
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Attendance: 15,780 (1,279 away)