Lewis Grabban’s tenth goal of the season saw a determined Nottingham Forest side come out on top as they defeated Sheffield United 1-0 this afternoon.
The forward's glancing header in the second half was enough to separate the two teams in an evenly-contested affair at The City Ground as the three points saw The Reds return to winning ways and climb into the top six.
Aitor Karanka handed a debut to Claudio Yacob in midfield for one of two changes from the draw at Leeds, with the Argentinian replacing the suspended Jack Colback, while Michael Dawson came in to captain the side for his 100th appearance for the club in place of the injured Danny Fox. Panagiotis Tachtsidis and new signing Karim Ansarifard were also named on the bench for the first time.
The first chance of the game fell for the visitors inside two minutes as a poor clearance from Adlene Guedioura saw the ball fall invitingly for Oliver Norwood on the edge of the area, but he dragged his first-time shot wide of the target.
On 12 minutes Joe Lolley hit a volley over the top of Dean Henderson's crossbar and a sublime through ball from Joao Carvalho had just a little too much on it for Lewis Grabban on 25.
With chances few and far between in a cagey opening 45 minutes, John Egan's header dropped just wide of the target before the interval in arguably the best opportunity of the half.
Matty Cash hit a shot wide of the mark following a fine turn which beat two defenders on 50 minutes, and then he saw an effort well blocked on 57 following a fine run by Lolley as The Reds looked to build some momentum.
The momentum kept building and Forest got the goal that their pressure deserved with 20 minutes left on the clock and it was that man Grabban who continued his fine scoring form to break the deadlock.
A deep cross was chased down by Carvalho and kept in play, before the Portuguese beat his man into the area and fizzed a cross-shot towards the far post which got a glancing touch from Grabban to take it inside the post for his tenth goal of the season.
Sheffield United threw bodies forward in search of an equaliser and a goalmouth scramble as the game headed into injury time almost saw the ball ricochet into the net, but substitute Ben Woodburn could only prod wide as The Reds held out for a big three points.
Forest: Pantilimon, Darikwa, Dawson (c), Figueiredo, Robinson, Yacob, Guedioura, Cash (Dias 83'), Carvalho, Lolley, Grabban (Ansarifard 90')
Unused subs: Steele, Osborn, Janko, Tachtsidis, Hefele
Goal: Grabban 69'
Booking: Cash 34', Figueiredo 71', Yacob 71', Robinson 90'
Sheffield United: Henderson, Freeman (Baldock 80'), O'Connell, Egan, Cranie (Woodburn 80'), Stevens, Coutts (McGoldrick 54'), Norwood, Fleck, Sharp (c), Clarke
Unused subs: Moore, Stearman, Johnson, Washington
Booking: Egan 88'
Referee: Scott Duncan
Attendance: 28,757 (1,976 away)