Nottingham Forest produced an excellent team performance to make it three successive victories with a 3-1 win over Millwall at The City Ground this afternoon.
A Sammy Ameobi brace and Ryan Yates’ late strike handed Forest a three-goal cushion, and although Ben Thompson pulled a goal back for the visitors, The Reds held on to secure another vital three points which stretched their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions.
Chris Hughton made seven changes to the side which beat Cardiff in the Emirates FA Cup last time out as Joe Worrall, Scott McKenna, Cafu and Sammy Ameobi kept their places in the starting line-up, whilst Anthony Knockaert returned to the squad after he extended his stay at the club until the end of the season.
The Reds began the brighter of the two sides, dominating possession from the off as well as creating a couple of good opportunities to take the lead. Cyrus Christie saw an effort from the edge of the area fly over the crossbar, before Lewis Grabban found himself through on goal but his low shot was well saved by goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski.
Hughton’s side continued to search for an opener, pinning the visitors inside their own half and they went close again mid-way through the first-half. A mistimed clearance presented Worrall with a chance to shoot from a Cafu corner, but the Forest centre-back failed to hit the target from close-range.
But it was only a matter of time before Forest would break the deadlock, and they did so on 34 minutes. Good work from Samba Sow allowed Ameobi some space to have an effort from distance and his viscous strike flew into the bottom corner via a deflection, leaving Bialkowski with little chance.
Millwall responded well to going a goal behind and almost levelled shortly after when Shaun Hutchinson met a corner from the right-wing but his header was brilliantly cleared off the line by Grabban as The Reds deservedly led going into the break.
After some early second-half pressure from The Lions, Forest had first real opportunity after the interval as Sow struck a dangerous free-kick towards goal but Bialkowski was alert to palm the ball away from danger.
Neat footwork from Alex Mighten opened up a chance for Grabban, who did well to shrug off his marker, but he could only fire into the side-netting from a tight angle. The latter got into a similar position moments later and decided to try and tee up one of his teammates, but his pull back was intercepted.
The Reds did though double their advantage in the 70th minute through a moment of brilliance from Ameobi. The winger played a one-two with Mighten on the right-hand side before cutting in-field and hitting a superb shot into the top corner for his second of the afternoon.
The visitors made a triple substitution in an attempt to get back into the contest and it was one of those changes who almost halved the deficit. Thompson got on the end of Mason Bennett’s cross but his header was tame and straightforward for Brice Samba.
However, Forest wrapped up the points with just seven minutes left on the clock as Yates got himself on the scoresheet. Cafu’s corner made its way to the midfielder in the middle who steered an effort into the back of the net despite Bialkowski’s desperate attempt to keep the ball out.
Millwall pressed to try and pull a goal back and they managed to salvage some consolation from the game as Thompson hammered a volley past Samba to make it 3-1, but The Reds held on for a fine victory which maintained their perfect start to the new year.
Forest: Samba; Christie, Worrall, McKenna, Ribeiro; Yates, Sow (Taylor 72'); Ameobi, Cafu, Mighten (Bong 82'); Grabban (c)
Subs not used: Smith, Figueiredo, Mbe Soh, Jenkinson, Guerrero, Lolley, Knockaert
Goals: Ameobi 34', 70', Yates 83'
Booking: Samba 90'
Millwall: Bialkowski; Hutchinson, Pearce (c) (Bennett 64'), Cooper; McNamara, Leonard, Woods (Thompson 79'), Malone; Wallace (Bodvarsson 79'), Zohore (Smith 64'), Parrott (Bradshaw 79')
Subs not used: Fielding, Williams, Ferguson, Romeo
Goal: Thompson 89'
Referee: Keith Stroud