Nottingham Forest maintained their six-point lead at the top of the Professional Development League as they comfortably beat Crewe Alexandra 3-1 at The Nigel Doughty Academy.
Brennan Johnson shone throughout for The Reds as he netted the opener and earned two penalties for his side which were successfully converted by Virgil Gomis either side of the break.
It took Forest only two minutes to open the scoring as Toby Edser saw his cross cleared away but only as far as Johnson on the edge of the six-yard box who was on hand to divert it goalwards off his thigh.
Nuno Da Costa fed a delightful pass through the Alex defence in the 14th minute and into the path of Gomis but his curling shot was deflected wide. John Bostock was then involved for The Reds as a well-worked move saw him take aim from distance but his effort flew wide of the target.
Forest had three consecutive chances to extend their lead but agonisingly saw all three of their efforts evade the target. The first saw Fin Back's low shot saved before Edser's follow-up chance was superbly blocked. That rebound then fell to the feet of Johnson but his drilled shot rolled wide of goal.
The Reds eventually doubled their lead in the 39th minute from the penalty spot as Johnson was fouled just inside the area. Gomis stepped up to take the spot-kick and he smashed it into the bottom-right of the goal after sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Chris Cohen’s side picked up where they left off in the second half and Bostock came marginally close to adding a third goal but his curling free-kick went just wide.
Johnson was brought down in the area for the second time of the afternoon as Forest were awarded their second penalty. Gomis once again proved his calmness in front of goal as he went the opposite way this time and buried his effort in the bottom left-hand corner.
Edser found Johnson inside the box with a short free-kick on the hour mark and he teed up a shot on goal. The Welshman saw his effort parried away and Michael Hefele stabbed the rebound back towards goal but his close-range effort came crashing off the crossbar.
Edser continued to lead the search for Forest’s fourth goal as a great set of passes from The Reds saw him go through on goal and one-on-one with the goalkeeper but his resulting shot was saved by the Crewe number one.
Connor Heath pulled one back for the visitors four minutes from time as he pounced on a mistake at the back from Forest. A through-ball saw Heath break away from the Forest defence and George Shelvey came rushing out of his area in attempt to beat Heath to the ball but the forward was too quick for him and he knocked it past the Forest goalkeeper and slotted into an open net.
Crewe’s late consolation goal was in vain though as Forest continued to dominate the closing stages of the encounter to hold on to a Valentine’s Day win.
Images kindly provided by Callum Jordan.
Forest: Shelvey, Back, Hefele, Barnes (Stewart 66’), Preston, Bostock, Edser, Da Costa (Sole 29’), Johnson, En-Neyah, Gomis (Hayes 61’)
Subs not used: Statham, Larsson
Goals: Johnson 2’, Gomis 39’, 56’