It was three goals and three points for Nottingham Forest as they defeated Barnsley at The City Ground this evening.
A fine first-half display saw them put Barnsley to the sword with Lee Tomlin and Ben Brereton on target, before a late strike by Apostolos Vellios rounded off the victory to send the Forest fans home happy on a damp Tuesday evening.
Aitor Karanka handed a debut to Juan Rafael Fuentes at left back, while Stefanos Kapino continued in goal to make his City Ground bow. Adlene Guedioura, Michael Mancienne and Tomlin also came into the side from the defeat against Cardiff City on Saturday.
The first chance of the game arrived on 12 minutes and it came via Matty Cash. The winger latched onto Mancienne's ball over the top, turned and fired a low effort towards the bottom corner but goalkeeper Jack Walton, making his senior debut for The Tykes, made a fine fingertip save to tip it around the post.
A couple of opportunities then fell the way of the visitors as they went in search of the opening goal. Firstly, Adam Hammill had a good chance after advantage was played by referee Robert Jones. George Moncur was fouled by Danny Fox, but the ball ran through for Hammill who should have hit the target when well placed in the middle. Then on 18 a big block by Fox denied Brad Potts as his vicious strike looked destined for the target.
But it was The Reds who found the breakthrough on 26 and it was a beauty from Tomlin. Cash did well to control a high ball then squared it for the forward who took a touch and curled it over Walton and into the top corner of the net.
Tomlin almost found a second with another moment of magic, this time a loose ball in the area was headed to him by Liam Bridcutt and Tomlin attempted an overhead kick but Walton was equal to it.
Moments later though and Barnsley were almost level as Oli McBurnie curled a fine effort towards Kapino's bottom left-hand post but the Greek stopper was equal to it to push it away from danger.
After Tomlin's overhead attempt, Guedioura fancied a go and came even closer on 35 as he forced Walton into a fine diving stop but just a minute later it was two for Forest as Brereton found the back of the net.
Tomlin was the creator this time as he played a wonderful reverse pass to play the teenager through on goal and he showed great composure to round Walton and stick the ball into the empty net.
The first half ended on a sour note, however, for The Reds and for debutant Fuentes as he was on the receiving end of a crunching tackle from Dimitri Cavare on the stroke of half-time, forcing him to be stretchered off the pitch.
With Ben Osborn coming on for the stricken Fuentes, it was the substitute who had the first effort of the second half as he hit a clever free kick towards goal but it deflected over, and down at the other end Kieffer Moore had a good shooting opportunity from the edge of the box but dragged his effort wide.
Forest were looking dangerous going forward and in the mood for more goals and it almost came on 70 minutes as a neat passage of play eventually led to the ball finding Cash at the back post. He hit a sweet shot from a tight angle which beat Walton but crashed off the outside of the post.
Barnsley were still looking for a way back into the game and Kapino had to be alert to push a Brad Potts shot away on 78 but ultimately, they couldn't find a way through a resolute Reds rearguard.
There was still time for Forest to add a third and it was thanks to two substitutes that they found it. Joe Lolley was superb in skipping past three challenges on his way into the penalty area, then he saw his attempted chip parried away by Walton but Vellios was on hand to finish off the loose ball and add an extra gloss to a good performance by The Reds.
Forest: Kapino, Lichaj, Mancienne, Fox, Fuentes (Osborn 46'), Watson (c), Bridcutt, Guedioura, Cash, Tomlin (Lolley 80'), Brereton (Vellios 80')
Unused subs: Smith, Colback, Hobbs, Darikwa
Goals: Tomlin 26', Brereton 36', Vellios 90'
Bookings: Fox 18', Guedioura 87'
Barnsley: Walton, Cavare, Jackson, Lindsay, Pinillos, Gardner (c), Hammill (Thiam 71'), Moncur (Mahoney 46'), Potts, McBurnie, Moore (Bradshaw 87')
Unused subs: Davies, McCarthy, Mallan, Pinnock
Booking: Jackson 52'
Referee: Robert Jones
Attendance: 23,633 (1,845 away)