Bristol City manager Sean O’Driscoll served the Nottingham Forest owners a slice of humble pie on Saturday afternoon as he engineered a 2-0 win over the club that sacked him on Boxing Day.
New Reds’ boss Billy Davies takes charge in earnest on Monday but it was caretaker manager Rob Kelly who oversaw this one as the Reds wasted numerous opportunities to take a first-half lead.
An open first period was followed by a dominant start from the Robins after the interval and the hosts took the lead through Steven Davies before Marvin Elliott’s towering header doubled the advantage and condemned Forest to a third consecutive defeat.
The Reds began the match with some early possession in what finished with a shot from midfielder Chris Cohen being charged down well after frontman Billy Sharp had teed up the reliable midfielder.
And there was an early chance for Sharp’s strike partner Dexter Blackstock too – the former QPR man failing to connect well with his shot following Radi Majewski’s superb run, leaving Robins’ keeper Tom Heaton with a simple save to make.
However, at the other end of the field it was the home side that had the most notable chance of the early stages as former Derby striker Jon Stead found space to turn on the edge of the box before forcing Reds’ shot-stopper Karl Darlow into a low save to push the ball to safety.
Majewski looked lively from the off and the Polish midfielder saw another opportunity fall his way when a knock down from defender Danny Collins fell his way. However, the midfield man scuffed his volley wide of the target.
The visitors were putting balls into the box well and troubling the home defence but it was the Ashton Gate outfit who were more effective in breaking down the Reds’ back four. Darlow was again called into action to make a save when another former Derby man, Stephen Pearson, had a shot on goal.
Dan Harding was in the Forest side once again and the full back set Blackstock up with a golden opportunity soon after. His pin-point cross from the left finding the striker who crashed his headed effort against the bar from three yards out.
And before the half was over former Reds’ defender Greg Cunningham tested Darlow with a shot from range that the keeper drove away well before Davies also put a late free-kick narrowly wide.
After the teams emerged from the tunnel for the second period the Reds immediately had the ball in the net, however the goal was soon ruled out for offside. Blackstock had put Sharp in to finish well but the striker was standing in an offside position.
Yet, it was the Robins that took the lead when former Derby striker Davies was allowed to run into the box following a City corner before his shot found the back of the net via a deflection.
Heaton then produced an outstanding save in the Bristol goal to prevent the Reds from grabbing an equaliser. Cohen’s searching cross fell for Sharp at the far-post and the Southampton loanee volleyed powerfully towards goal only to see the keeper block superbly with his legs.
To make things worse for the Reds the home side then doubled their lead – midfielder Elliott rising high in the Forest box to plant his header from Pearson’s free-kick beyond the reach of a stretching Darlow.
Former Reds’ defender Brendan Moloney also put in an impressive performance for O’Driscoll’s men and denied Blackstock a shot on goal as he put Cohen’s ball from the left away to safety with a good clearance mid-way through the half.
Substitute Lewis McGugan looked to carve out a route back into the game for the Reds in the closing stages but the talented midfielder’s nearest effort from a driven shot on the edge of the area fell just off target.
The Reds now sit in 13th position in the Championship table, but remain just six points adrift of the play-off positions. Billy Davies takes charge of his first game next week as Forest are back at the City Ground to take on Bolton on Saturday 16th February. Kick-off is at 3pm.
Bristol City: Heaton, Fontaine, Nyatanga, Stead, Kelly, Pearson, Davies (Burns, 76), Cunningham, Moloney, Anderson (Foster, 87), Elliott.
Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Jara (Cox, 67), Halford, Collins, Harding (Ward, 49), Cohen, Majewski (McGugan, 79), Guedioura, Reid, Blackstock, Sharp.
Man of the match (Forest): Radi Majewski.
Referee: Craig Pawson.
Attendance: 13,768 (Away: 1,405).