Nottingham Forest Under 23s ran out impressive 3-1 winners over Exeter City in the Premier League Cup at the Impact Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Goals from Toby Edser, Jayden Richardson and Yassine En-Neyah secured all three points for The Reds before James Dodd pulled one back for the visitors late on.
Jimmy Gilligan made three changes to the side that were beaten 2-0 at Leeds last Monday with Jordan Lawrence-Gabriel, Jake Taylor and Gboly Ariyibi coming into the side to replace Danny Preston, Joe Coveney and Ryan Yates.
It was the visitors who made an impressive start to the contest and Exeter City captain Archie Collins came close to opening the scoring early on when Ben Seymour’s initial shot fell to the former inside the area, but he fired over.
Gboly Ariyibi did well to carve out an opportunity ten minutes later when he picked up the ball on the left, dropped the shoulder and rifled an effort which went narrowly wide of the post.
But The Reds did take the lead on 23 minutes through captain Toby Edser. The midfielder battled his way into the area before slotting the ball past James Hamon in the Exeter goal to give his side the lead.
Jack Sparkes was unlucky not to find an equaliser for the visitors soon after when the ball landed to him at the back post, but he could only shoot over. Moments after, The Reds charged forward with Brennan Johnson shooting at goal from the right, straight into Hamon’s hands.
Liam Bossin was called into action for The Reds on 35 minutes as he made a stunning save to deny Jack Sparkes from close range, but Forest soon doubled their lead on 39 minutes.
Jayden Richardson worked his way into the area, skipping past one challenge, before coolly finishing past Hamon to make it 2-0 to The Reds going into the break.
The Reds were quick out of the blocks after the break and had numerous chances to extend their lead. First, Virgil Gomis was played through on goal on two occasions in quick succession, but he dragged his shot wide before shooting straight at the ‘keeper moments after.
The lively Arvin Appiah was then replaced by Yassine En-Neyah and the latter made an instant impact when he scored the third. Ariyibi did well on the left to pull the ball back to the penalty spot where En-Neyah was on hand to convert the ball home.
Then The Grecians pulled one back on 64 minutes when substitute James Dodd prodded the ball just over the line from a cross. Forest argued it had not crossed the line, but the linesman deemed it as over to give the visitors some hope.
Kostas Megaritis came on to replace Brennan Johnson before Forest were lucky not to concede again as Exeter caused chaos in The Reds’ penalty area. The away side hit the crossbar twice before Joel Randall went to ground in the area, but referee Aaron Bannister waved away the appeals.
The Reds made a final change when Joe Coveney came on to replace Jake Taylor as The Reds continued to manage the game well to hold onto an important three points in their first Premier League Cup game of the season.
Nottingham Forest: Bossin, Lawrence-Gabriel, Richardson, Taylor (Coveney 77’), Ahmedhodzic, Stewart, Appiah (En-Neyah 53’), Johnson (Megaritis 65’), Gomis, Edser, Ariyibi.
Subs not used: Wright, Fornah.