A second-half strike from Ryan Yates made it back-to-back wins and clean sheets for Nottingham Forest as they claimed a 1-0 victory over Rotherham United at the AESSEAL New York Stadium this evening.
Forest got their attitude and work-rate just right on a blustery evening in South Yorkshire and they were rewarded midway through the second half when Yates tucked home his second goal of the season to hand The Reds a first win at Rotherham since March 2002.
Chris Hughton made three changes to the side that beat Blackburn Rovers on Saturday as Gaetan Bong, Yates and Luke Freeman replaced Yuri Ribeiro, James Garner and Alex Mighten respectively with Ribeiro missing out on a place in the matchday squad altogether.
The home side started well in very blustery conditions at the New York Stadium and as their long throw was only half cleared by the Forest defence, Millers skipper Michael Ihiekwe headed the ball harmlessly over Brice Samba's crossbar as The Reds passed their first aerial examination.
Freeman saw appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Matthew Donohue while at the other end, Rotherham's tall centre forward Michael Smith cut inside and sent a fizzing low drive towards the corner of the net but it flashed into the side netting with Samba scrambling across to make the save.
Forest showed their attacking teeth three minutes when Joe Worrall kept a corner alive at the back post and sent the ball back into the penalty area. The defender's delivery was cleared only as far as Filip Krovinovic whose volley went fizzing wide of the target with Yates close to converting in the middle of the penalty area, although the offside flag was up in any case.
A theme was developing with both sides attacking down their respective right-hand sides and Cyrus Christie came close to putting Forest in front on 27 minutes. The full-back came in off the right-hand touchline and drilled an effort all along the ground but it drifted the wrong side of the post and crashed into the side netting.
Glenn Murray had the ball in the back of the net on the half-hour mark as he headed home Bong's superb left-wing cross but the offside flag was raised and soon after Krovinovic took aim for the edge of the penalty area but his strike was comfortably held by Rotherham goalkeeper Viktor Johansson.
The Reds won a free-kick 20 yards from goal just before half-time and following a five-man gathering around the ball, Anthony Knockaert curled it up and over the wall but Johansson flung himself away to his right to palm the ball around the post and ensure the game was goalless at the break.
It appeared that set-pieces were Forest's best route to an opening goal and they almost grabbed the lead from one on 56 minutes. Knockaert's outstanding delivery was met by Murray's head inside the Rotherham penalty area but his effort was met by another wonderful save from Johansson although once again the offside flag had been raised.
Johansson was having one of those nights in between the sticks for the home side and he had to be alert once again to push out Knockaert's curling strike with Krovinovic just unable to get onto the rebound as Rotherham cleared the ball away to safety.
Forest had knocked on the Rotherham door all evening and they finally made the breakthrough midway through the second half courtesy of Yates's second goal of the season. Knockaert's short corner was delivered into the box by Christie, Tobias Figueiredo kept the ball alive inside the box and Yates was on hand to stab the ball beyond Johansson and give The Reds a priceless lead.
As was to be expected, the home side showed a tremendous response to going behind and they almost levelled with 15 minutes to play. Wes Harding's free kick broke kindly for Freddie Ladapo at close range but he couldn't sort his feet out and Clark Robertson's follow-up strike was superbly blocked by Joe Worrall.
Lyle Taylor replaced Murray with 15 minutes to go and the former Charlton striker almost wrapped up all three points late on. The frontman worked hard to latch onto a long ball over the top from Bong, chopped the ball back inside his man but fired a powerful strike inches wide of Johansson's right-hand post.
Referee Donohue signalled five minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half and Rotherham came inches away from grabbing an equaliser in the second of them. Harding's long throw into the box was headed back across goal by Ihiekwe, the ball fell onto the head of Smith but his guided header cannoned back off the crossbar and Forest were able to clear the danger.
Fortunately for The Reds there were no further scares and they held on to claim a second win and clean sheet in four days as they move on to a challenging and intriguing East Midlands derby at Pride Park on Friday night.
Forest: Samba; Christie, Figueiredo, Worrall (c), Bong; Cafu, Yates; Freeman (Lolley 66'), Krovinovic (Garner 87'), Knockaert (Blackett 87'); Murray (Taylor 76')
Subs not used: Smith, Mbe Soh, Colback, Jenkinson, Mighten
Goal: Yates 67'
Booking: Figueiredo 79'
Rotherham: Johansson; A.MacDonald, Ihiekwe (c), Robertson; Harding, Wiles (Sadlier 80'), Barlaser (Giles 80'), Wing, Olosunde (Ladapo 66'); Smith, Crooks
Subs not used: Blackman, S.MacDonald, Hirst, Clarke, Jozefzoon
Bookings: Ihiekwe 26', Smith 42', A.MacDonald 79'
Referee: Matthew Donohue