Blackburn Rovers 3 v Nottingham Forest 0

editorial image

Alex McLeish tasted defeat for the first time as Nottingham Forest manager on Tuesday as his side started the New Year with a frustrating defeat to Blackburn at Ewood Park.

Although the Reds came close in a first half that was evenly matched, neither side produced any goals before the interval, creating a scrappy first period.

However, after the break a touch of good fortune for the home side saw them take the lead after the ball ricocheted into the net off Ruben Rochina’s shin.

And despite a good response from Forest it was Blackburn that scored again as frontman Jordan Rhodes hit his 15th goal of this campaign before Colin Kazim-Richards swept home a third moments later to condemn the Reds to defeat.

A bold McLeish made four changes to the squad that drew with Crystal Palace - with Daniel Ayala, Simon Cox, Henri Lansbury and Guy Moussi all returning to the starting line-up.

Former Arsenal midfielder Lansbury was the first to look to test Rovers’ young keeper Jake Kean with his attempted lob from range that dropped high over the crossbar.

Veteran Reds’ midfielder Andy Reid was looking to impress the new manager again and did well to pick out Cox in front of goal - however the Blackburn defence prevented the striker getting his shot away.

The hosts were then awarded an indirect free-kick inside the Forest area after Reds’ shot-stopper Lee Camp caught a back pass from Danny Collins. Fortunately the visitors were spared their blushes as Kazim-Richards struck the wall of red shirts.

Before the break both sides came close to scoring as Cox tested Kean with a shot that was well grasped by the former Derby keeper before at the other end Kazim-Richards fired inches over from close range.

After the terms emerged from the tunnel it was Blackburn that immediately took the advantage – luck played a part as Rochina surged forward from midfield and his effort was blocked by Ayala before cannoning in off the Spaniard’s leg.

There was a positive reaction from the Reds who looked to get straight back into the game, and although Rhodes fired just wide of the target moments later it was Forest who should have netted the equaliser.

Dan Harding surged down the left before whipping over a pin-point cross for Billy Sharp - the Southampton loanee jumped at the perfect time to head the ball goalwards but was denied by an outstanding save from Kean, who tipped the ball to safety.

And despite two substitutes from McLeish, bringing Dexter Blackstock and Chris Cohen into the mix-up it was the Lancashire club that extended their lead when Rhodes got a rare chance on goal.

The former Huddersfield man was in on goal after Kazim-Richards and Morten Gamst Pedersen combined to leave the frontman with the job of finishing past Camp to double his side’s advantage.

And the home side extended their lead three minutes later to hand Forest a losing start to 2013 as Galatasaray loanee Kazim-Richards slotted home a third from the edge of the box.

Forest now sit in 11th position in the Championship table and are three points off the top-six play-off contenders. In their next league outing the Reds will take on lowly Peterborough at the City Ground on Saturday 12th January. Kick-off is at 3pm.

Blackburn Rovers: Kean, Olsson, Rhodes (Goodwillie, 90), Lowe, Murphy(c), King (Markus Olsson, 73), Dann, Rochina (Pedersen, 62), Henley, Hanley, Kazim-Richards

Nottingham Forest: Camp, Halford, Collins(c), Ayala, Harding, Moussi, Lansbury (Cohen, 64) Reid, Guedioura (Blackstock, 73), Cox, Sharp

Man of the match (Forest): Andy Reid

Referee: Geoff Eltrigham

Attendance: 15,490