Nottingham Forest Under 23s secured qualification from the group stage of the Premier League Cup with a 5-0 win at St James’ Park against Exeter City on Monday evening.
A Virgil Gomis hat-trick and a strike from Jordan Lawrence-Gabriel before a late penalty from Idris Kadded secured a fine win in the West Country against The Grecians as Forest made it four wins from four in the competition.
Toby Edser returned from his loan at Woking to lead The Reds on a cold night in the west country, and they made a positive start to the contest seeing lots of the ball.
Randell Williams was proving lively for the home side however and Ethan Stewart did well to clear the ball from danger when the Exeter man drilled in a low cross inside the penalty area. The Reds faced a difficult spell and had to soak up the pressure but they did just that, when a fine block denied Matt Jay’s goal-bound shot before Williams’s shot deflected over for a corner.
Forest should have taken the lead on 21 minutes when Brennan Johnson was found in plenty of space inside the box, but his shot was well saved by James Hamon in the Exeter goal. The Reds continued to look a threat every time they went forward and that showed when Exeter captain Alex Hartridge was shown a yellow card for dragging down Yassine En-Neyah who burst forward.
Moments later, Jimmy Gilligan’s side were appealing for a penalty when Johnson went down inside the area, but their appeals were waved away by referee Sam Allison.
The Reds deservedly went ahead on 36 minutes through Gomis. Some patient build-up play eventually found the striker on the penalty spot who slid the ball under the ‘keeper to put his side 1-0 up. It could have been two on the brink of half-time when Johnson’s excellent cross picked out the head of Anel Ahmedhodzic who nodded inches over the bar.
Forest were in the ascendancy after the break and had several chances to extend their lead with Gallacher’s teasing cross nearly being turned into his own net by an Exeter man before Gomis was played through, forcing Hamon into a good save.
Gomis eventually had his and Forest’s second of the night when a superb ball played through the striker who made no mistake when he fired the ball into bottom left-hand corner. Exeter’s Will Dean was unlucky not to pull a goal back when his volley, which was destined for the top corner, was excellently tipped wide for a corner by Bossin.
Gomis then secured his hat-trick when he pounced on a defensive mistake and squared the ball to Johnson who shot. Johnson’s effort was saved but fell into the path of the Frenchman who had the simple task of tapping the ball home from close-range.
It was soon four for Forest in what was an extremely impressive display as a defensive mix-up from the home side allowed Lawrence-Gabriel to race through and lash the ball into the net. Exeter nearly grabbed a consolation when Ben Seymour’s header hit the post, but as Forest broke forward Aaron Martin was shown a yellow card for a foul as well as Hartridge, who was shown a red card after picking up a second yellow.
Idris Kadded then made it five when he slotted home a penalty after Johnson was brought down inside the area in a superb win for The Reds in the West Country.
Forest: Bossin, Lawrence-Gabriel, Gallacher (Fornah 78’), Coveney, Ahmedhodzic, Stewart, Johnson, Taylor, Gomis (Hayes 75’), Edser (c), En-Neyah (Kadded 75’)
Subs not used: Soloha, J. Hefele
Goals: Gomis 36’, 54’, 68’, Lawrence-Gabriel 74’, Kadded (pen) 90+1’