Nottingham Forest Under 23s cemented their place at the summit of the Professional Development League after they sealed an impressive 3-0 win over Barnsley at Oakwell Training Ground.
A brace from Brennan Johnson and one from Yassine En-Neyah helped The Reds on their way to a fine three points which stretches their unbeaten run in the league to 13 matches.
Forest started the game the brighter of the two sides and opened the scoring within the first seven minutes. Danny Preston’s free-kick from the left-wing caused havoc inside the Barnsley box and it fell to Johnson, who tucked the ball home into the corner from close range.
Johnson then turned provider for The Reds’ second of the match on 25 minutes. The 18-year-old’s sublime pass found En-Neyah through on-goal and he slotted the ball first-time past the onrushing ‘keeper Jake Greatorex.
Barnsley responded well to going two-goals behind and created a couple of good opportunities to pull one back. Firstly, Callum Styles found half-a-yard of space on the edge of the box, but he dragged his effort just wide before a mix-up in the Forest back-line allowed Tommy Willard a chance, however, his shot was well recovered by Marios Siampanis.
Keith Asare almost added a third moments before the break as he was played in on the right side, but he could only place an attempt over the crossbar, as The Reds led going into half-time.
Barnsley began the second period on the front foot and almost halved the deficit within a minute when Alex Wollerton’s dangerous cross found Charlie Winfield, but he fired a shot over Siampanis’ bar.
Despite the Tykes’ fast start to the half, Forest came close to adding a third, five minutes later. Toby Edser’s corner was met by Ethan Stewart, but his downward header crashed off the post and Barnsley eventually cleared.
However, The Reds weren’t to be denied as they added a third goal in the 64th minute. Edser’s clever free-kick found Johnson in space and he steered the ball low into the bottom corner to add his brace.
As the half wore on, Barnsley pushed to grab a consolation and had half chances through Jordan Barnett’s free-kick and a long-range effort from Tom Price, but neither really troubled Siampanis in the Forest net.
Minutes later, the referee blew the final whistle to the contest as Chris Cohen’s team secured back-to-back victories which ensures they move three points clear at the top of the division.
Forest: Siampanis, Rama (Spooner 90’), Preston, Fornah, Stewart, Barnes, Asare (Sole 84’), Edser, Hayes, Johnson (Walsh 78’), En-Neyah
Subs not used: Statham, Back
Goals: Johnson 7’, 64’, En-Neyah 25’