Nottingham Forest Under 23s returned back to the top of the Professional Development League after they secured a 2-1 win over high-flying Burnley at The City Ground.
Goals either side of the break from Kieran Hayes and Keith Asare saw Forest go into a two-nil lead, and although Josh Benson pulled one back for the visitors, Chris Cohen’s side stood firm to stretch their unbeaten run to 12 matches.
Chances were few and far between in the opening stages as both sides struggled to gain a foothold on proceedings.
Burnley had the first real opportunity on 13 minutes after Benson’s corner was met by Rob Harker, but his downward header was superbly saved by Marios Siampanis.
Hayes almost opened the scoring for Forest three minutes later, but his low drive from around eight yards hit the outside of the post before rolling out for a goal-kick.
The Clarets grew into the contest and went close on a couple of occasions mid-way through the first-half.
Firstly, Jordan Cropper’s delivery was steered towards goal by Harker, but the forward’s first-time effort was stopped.
Then moments after, a mistake allowed the visitors’ no.10 to go through on-goal, but his shot was saved by Siampanis from point-blank range.
However, The Reds were gifted the chance to take the lead four minutes before the break when Liam Sole was brought down in the Burnley penalty area.
Hayes stepped up and converted the spot-kick into the bottom right-hand corner, sending Clarets ‘keeper Lucas Jensen the wrong way.
Forest began the second-half on the front foot in an attempt to add another goal. A well-worked corner made its way to Toby Edser who drove into the box and fired a powerful effort which was blocked and cleared away from danger.
Cohen’s team kept pushing and were rewarded for their fast start to the half as they doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute.
Hayes’ pass found Yassine En-Neyah on the right-wing and he skipped by his marker before pulling the ball across to Asare who tucked home into the back of the net.
Burnley responded well to going behind and were awarded a penalty just four minutes later after Henri Ogunby was tripped inside the 18-yard box.
Benson took the responsibility from the spot and struck the ball into the bottom corner to half the deficit.
As the half wore on, the visitors started to dominate in an attempt to grab an unlikely equaliser. They almost found one in the dying enviers when a loose ball fell to Ogunby, but his snapshot was excellently blocked and Forest managed to clear away.
Minutes later, the referee blew the final whistle as Forest held on to seal a first victory over the new year which means they leapfrog their opponents at the top of the division.
Forest: Siampanis, Lawrence-Gabriel (c), Gallacher, Fornah, Stewart, Barnes, Sole (Walsh 79’), Edser, Hayes (Swan 88’), En-Neyah, Asare
Subs not used: Wright, Rama, Hammond
Goals: Hayes 41’, Asare 63’