A Joe Lolley inspired Nottingham Forest produced a fine performance to defeat Luton Town at The City Ground this afternoon.
The Forest winger scored either side of half-time to help The Reds to a vital victory on Trentside, with a late Lewis Grabban penalty adding extra gloss to the scoreline.
Harry Cornick had give Luton a shock lead but Forest responded well to secure all three points.
Sabri Lamouchi made three changes to the side which drew at Reading, with Michel Dawson, Tiago Silva and Albert Adomah all coming into the starting line-up.
It was the visitors who started the brightest, with Matty Pearson and Dan Potts coming close with efforts before Forest started to dominate possession, but The Reds found it hard to carve out any openings as The Hatters’ rearguard stood firm.
On 23 minutes Luton took the lead following a swift move which saw Potts cut the ball back from the byline for Harry Cornick to slide into the bottom corner past Brice Samba.
The Reds responded well to the setback, Joe Worrall glancing a header from a corner which Luton keeper Simon Sluga did well to keep out at his near post, Adomah firing wide of the target following good work by Yuri Ribeiro then Tiago Silva acrobatically volleying over the bar.
The pressure told and the equaliser came on 36 minutes as Joe Lolley drove forward following a quick break, cut inside onto his left foot and hit a shot which squirmed past Sluga to level the scores.
Worrall was denied from close range by Sluga as the first half drew to a close, with Forest starting the second half on the front foot and looking to take charge of the game.
Lolley fired over from the edge of the box before he made no mistake just before the hour mark, receiving a raking Ben Watson pass before firing an unstoppable, swerving effort past Sluga and into the top corner of the net.
The Reds were well on top and could have extended their lead as substitute Sammy Ameobi bent an effort wide of the far post, before Lolley jinked his way into the area only to see his low cross cleared from underneath the crossbar.
Despite their dominance, The Reds had to be alert at the back as James Collins forced Brice Samba into a smart low save on 80 minutes, but the result was never in doubt and the three points were secured with a third goal in injury time.
Tiago Silva’s free kick hit a hand of a Luton defender in the wall, with the referee pointing to the penalty spot and allowing Lewis Grabban the chance to convert for his 15th goal of the season.
Three goals and three points for The Reds as they closed the gap on the automatic promotion spots.
Forest: Samba, Cash, Worrall, Dawson (c), Ribeiro, Watson, Sow, Silva (Carvalho 90’), Adomah (Ameobi 67’), Lolley (Yates 83’), Grabban
Unused subs: Smith, Jenkinson, Semedo, Chema
Goals: Lolley 36’, 57’, Grabban pen 90’
Luton: Sluga, Bree, Pearson, Bradley (c), Potts, Tunnicliffe, Rea (Lee 72’), Mpanzu, LuaLua, Cornick (Moncur 50’), Collins
Unused subs: Shea, Berry, Shinnie, Bolton, Daniels
Goal: Cornick 23’
Bookings: Rea 35’, Tunnicliffe 88’, Potts 90’
Referee: Tony Harrington
Attendance: 27,081 (1,554 away)