Kieran Hayes’ first-half strike was enough for Nottingham Forest Under-23s to defeat Wigan Athletic on Monday evening as The Reds extended their lead at the top of the Professional Development League to five points.
The Reds enjoyed the better first-half chances as they went searching of the opening goal straight from kick-off. Their first opportunity in front of goal fell to Liam Sole after he got on the end of a superb long ball from goalkeeper Marios Siampanis but his stinging cross-turned-shot flew just wide of the target.
Forest came close again only three minutes later after Alex Mighten slipped a great pass through to Hayes inside the area. The forward took a touch before glancing a cross across the face of goal picking out Sole but struggled to find any space inside the area to get his shot. Sole laid a pass back off to Tyrese Fornah on the edge of the box but his shot was blocked by a mass of bodies and the ball was eventually cleared.
Siampanis was called upon by his teammates just after the half an hour mark as Wigan threatened the Forest goal. Divin Baningine broke free inside The Reds’ final third and carried the ball towards goal before smashing an effort from inside the box but Siampanis pulled of a terrific save to deny the forward.
The Reds took the lead on the stroke of half-time as Hayes fired Forest ahead on the 41st minute. Sole saw his initial effort saved but the ‘keeper failed to keep hold of the ball and Hayes was on hand inside the six-yard box to bury home his rebound effort.
The second-half proved to be a much cagier half than the opening 45 minutes to the game but The Reds still enjoyed the better opportunities in front of goal.
En-Neyah tested the Wigan ‘keeper just after the hour mark after he found some space just inside the box but his powerful effort was pushed around the far-right goal-post.
Preston hit a great set piece for his side on the 76th minute after he floated a high cross into the oppositions box. Stewart rose the highest to meet the ball but he could only guide his wide of the goal.
The Reds came close to doubling their lead as they had two golden opportunities in front of goal. Mighten, agonisingly saw his close ranged shot from a tight angle come bouncing back of the goal post and Swan who was waiting inside the area saw his follow up effort saved brilliant by the ‘keeper.
Forest weren’t left to rue their missed chances though as Hayes’ strike ensured The Reds maintained their 100% winning record at home this season.
Forest: Siampanis, Rama, Gallacher (Swan 45'), Fornah, Stewart, Preston (c), Sole, Barnes, En Neyah, Hayes (Sodiende 73’), Mighten
Subs not used: Statham, Ram, Walsh
Bookings: Preston 67’, En-Neyah 68’
Goal: Hayes 41’
Wigan: Cyolla, Colden (Jolley 65’), Robinson, Obi, Long, Smith, Weir, Merrie (c), Piggott, Baningine (Perry 79’), Crankshaw
Subs not used: Aspinall, Sanders, Finley