Radi Majewski struck his fifth goal in three games on Saturday night as Nottingham Forest secured a third consecutive victory with a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, writes Shaun Wheatcroft.
Billy Davies’ unbeaten run stretched to four games after the Polish midfielder slotted into an empty net just before the hour-mark – wrapping up what was a dominant first-half showing from Forest.
And although the away side had to sustain some late pressure after the interval, they held out to beat a Wednesday side that went into the game on the back of a seven match unbeaten run (the longest in the Championship).
Davies made two changes to the side that beat Charlton the previous Saturday, with Dexter Blackstock replacing Darius Henderson in the Reds’ attack and Danny Collins standing in for the suspended Greg Halford.
The Owls started the match with intent and looked confident with a string of good performances behind them – pacey winger Michail Antonio caused problems in the early stages and rushed forward before Chris Cohen lunged in with a strong tackle.
Former Arsenal man Henri Lansbury was the first to see a sight of goal – the Forest midfielder looked to place the ball past Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland from range but his effort fizzed wide of the target.
The visitors soon began to assert their own supremacy in the game and nearly opened the scoring after some good build-up play. Majewski combined well with winger Andy Reid who found Blackstock – but the striker’s tame effort was deflected into the hands of Kirkland.
The home side then had a chance of their own at the other end of the pitch – Sunderland loanee Connor Wickham calling shot-stopper Karl Darlow into action with a header from Danny Pugh’s ball that the keeper made light work of.
Reid stood out in the Forest midfield and was soon involved again when the Irishman’s searching free-kick on the right nearly found the head of Collins, the defender was just inches away from connecting.
The Reds did have the ball in the net on 25 minutes when Reid’s pin-point cross found the head of Blackstock to head home. However, the frontman had made his run too early and the goal was correctly ruled offside.
Two minutes later Forest scored again, but this time it counted. Some fantastic passing football led to the goal as Reid nutmegged former Forest man David Prutton to find Simon Cox in the area – the striker unselfishly squared the ball to Majewski and the Pole applied a simple finish.
A solid first half performance from the away side should have seen them go into the break with a two goal advantage. However, another attacking surge forward came to nothing after Cohen made a blistering run down the left before picking out Blackstock whose effort was thwarted by Miguel Llera’s interception.
It was a vastly improved second period for Wednesday, and they looked to pull a goal back immediately but struggled to break through the sturdy Forest backline.
Antonio continued to pose a threat when the hosts went forward, and just after the hour-mark the midfielder sent a long range effort towards goal that dipped marginally over the head of Darlow before almost skimming the crossbar.
Billy Davies’ men also had their opportunities – Majewski playing a neat one-two with Reid from a short corner to drill an effort on goal just wide before Lansbury also fired off target soon after.
In the closing stages the Owls had one last push with the visitors penned back defending during five minutes of added time, but some resolute defending coupled with the safe hands of Darlow ensured Forest left Hillsborough with all three points.
Forest are now 8th in the Championship table and sit just four points adrift of the final play-off place, which is currently occupied by Brighton. In their next game the Reds take on Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town at the City Ground on Tuesday 5th March. Kick-off is at 7:45pm.
Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Jara Reyes, Ward, Collins (C) (Lascelles, 81), Cohen, Lansbury, Guedioura, Majewski (Moussi, 73), Reid, Cox (Sharp, 77), Blackstock.
Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland, Buxton, Llera, Gardner, Pugh (Lee, 66), Helan, Prutton (Madine, 78), Coke, Antonio, Wickham (Johnson, 46), Lita.
Man of the match: Andy Reid.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Attendance: 23,220 (Away supporters: 3,075).