REPORT | NOTTM FOREST 1-2 CARDIFF CITY
Cardiff City took all three points at the City Ground, defeating Nottingham Forest 2-1 to remain unbeaten under Neil Warnock.
While the home side started on the front foot, City created a gilt-edged chance to take the lead after just five minutes.
Rickie Lambert held the ball up well and his committed tackle on the halfway line inadvertently slipped Joe Ralls beyond Forest’s last line of defence. The midfielder ran completely clean through on goal, but dragged his finish wide of Vladimir Stojković’s post.
The home side’s danger man was looking likely to be Henri Lansbury, and he came close to opening the scoring in spectacular fashion when he let fly from thirty-five yards. City stopper Ben Amos had his angles covered though, and ushered it wide of the post.
The Bluebirds soon started to stamp some authority on the game, keeping the ball in their opponent’s half. Then, after some good attacking play, City earned a corner from which they took the lead. Aron Gunnarsson outmuscled his marker on the centre-circle and, when Peter Whittingham swung the ball in, the Iceland skipper powered his header home.
City almost doubled their lead soon after, as Junior Hoilett found Lambert with a pin-point delivery. The forward’s close range effort was superbly saved by Stojković and, while Lambert was incorrectly flagged for offside, he unfortunately picked up an injury in the process which saw him replaced.
Craig Noone was the man to deputise, and the winger had a hand in City scoring their second before half time. After Forest failed to clear their lines, Noone drove a low cross towards the near post which Stojković could only palm up into the onrushing Ralls’ path. This time he made no mistake, heading the ball into the open net to give City some breathing space.
The home side’s only opportunities in the first half had come from long range, and that was to continue after the interval, as Pajtim Kasami stung Amos’ palms with a low drive.
The Bluebirds were forced into their second substitution when Hoilett picked up an injury. Kieran Richardson came on to make his City debut, and had an instant impact, playing Anthony Pilkington through on goal.
Pilkington fired the opportunity over the bar but, less than a minute later, robbed the ball back of Thomas Lam. The Forest defender then cynically pulled him back, giving the referee no option but to show him a red card.
Now with the numerical advantage, City’s dominance over a shaky Forest back line was accentuated, with Stojković saving excellently from Sean Morrison and Ralls.
Noone was one of several City players enjoying plenty of space, and he almost added an audacious third, leaving two markers in his wake before being denied by Armand Traoré’s covering tackle.
City really should have added to their lead when Whittingham fed Pilkington, who rounded Stojković, but somehow missed the gaping goal after Chris Cohen’s goal-line block fell at his feet.
Instead, they had to endure a nervy finale as Gunnarsson was judged to have fouled Lansbury in the box, and the Forest man smashed home the penalty to half the deficit in injury time.
Nevertheless, the Bluebirds held on to remain unbeaten under Warnock and take three important points back to the Welsh capital.
FULL TIME: NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1-2 CARDIFF CITY
Nottingham Forest: Stojković, Lichaj, Perquis, Lam, Traoré (Grant 82), Kasami, Cohen, Dumitru (Assombalonga 69), Lansbury, Osborn, Vellios.
Subs not used: Licá, Hobbs, Smith, Ahmedhodzic, Edser.
Cardiff City: Amos, Connolly, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett, Ralls, Gunnarsson, Whittingham (O'Keefe 90+3), Hoilett (Richardson 55), Lambert (Noone 37), Pilkington.
Subs not used: Wilson, Harris, Immers, Chamakh.