Aston Villa 2-1 Nottingham Forest: Conor Hourihane scores winner for Steve Bruce's side
By Robert O'Connor
Last Updated: 24/09/17 7:08pm
Aston Villa claimed just their third win of the Championship season as Conor Hourihane's free-kick saw off Nottingham Forest at Villa Park and helped Steve Bruce's side to their first back-to-back league wins since April.
Hourihane curled home in the second half to restore Villa's lead after Daryl Murphy had scored a superb individual goal to cancel out Albert Adomah's opener.
Adomah had slotted home early in the first half getting on the end of a fine ball from Jonathan Kodjia, but Forest leveled when Murphy held off three defenders to slot past Sam Johnstone.
Villa move up to 10th, just two points off the play-off places, after withstanding a spirited late fightback from Forest.
Aston Villa: Johnstone (7), Elmohamady (6), Terry (6), Chester (7), Taylor (6), Whelan (7), Hourihane (8), Adomah (8), Snodgrass (7), Davis(7), Kodjia (8)
Subs: Onomah (7), Hutton (6), Hogan (7)
Notts Forest: Smith (6), Mills (5), Traore (7), Bridcutt (6), Murphy (8), McKay (7), Brereton (7), Dowell (7), Darikwa (6), Bouchalakis (7), Worrall (7)
Subs: Osborn (6), Clough (7), Carayol (7)
Man of the match: Albert Adomah
Forest dominated possession for the first 15 minutes without threatening Johnstone's goal, and they were made to pay for a lack of enterprise when Kodjia broke from midfield and played a neat through-ball for Adomah to round Jordan Smith and slide Villa into the lead.
Adomah's touch deserted him shortly before half-time when Forest centre-back Matt Mills failed to control the ball and let in Kodjia to tee up his strike partner, who couldn't capitalise on his good fortune and shot straight at Smith.
Forest leveled just after the break when Andreas Bouchalakis fed Murphy on the edge of the box, who showed excellent strength in seeing off the challenge of three Villa defenders to turn and slot past Johnstone.
And it was nearly 2-1 to the visitors moments later when Kieran Dowell received the ball in space 12 yards out, but the Forest midfielder's first-time shot was straight at the goalkeeper.
Villa began with Kodjia up front with Davis. Forest started with Murphy as a lone striker.
Forest continued to dominate the ball without penetrating, and fell behind for a second time when Hourihane lined up a free-kick after Kodjia was hauled down 30 yards from goal and the Republic of Ireland international sent a curling free-kick past the despairing dive of Smith.
Murphy missed a golden opportunity to equalize with his head after 65 minutes but couldn't direct his effort after losing James Chester, as Villa held on to climb into the top half.
Steve Bruce: "Forest got a bit of a break just when they needed it just after half time, and then of course it's all about the tenacity to win the game. And then thankfully a little bit of quality from Conor with the free-kick. I think that's the fifth goal this season so terrific from him. Towards the end it's a bit frantic as you can imagine because we're still a bit edgy after the start we've had. But that will breed a bit of confidence."
Mark Warburton: "It is frustrating as we came out in the first 15 minutes of the game and we were very good. We dominated, looked bright and threatening and then we gave away a very poor goal again and find ourselves 1-0 down.
"The 20 minutes after that we were really poor and I think it was the worst we have been in the six months or so I have been here. We looked lethargic, we didn't get out there and we had words at half time as a group."
Man of the match - Albert Adomah
Strength and precision were the watchwords for Villa's main attacking threat. He was a menace throughout for a Forest side who never learned to live with his directness and his finish in rounding the goalkeeper for Villa's opener was a study in composure.
Both sides are back in Championship action on Tuesday evening with Nottingham Forest hosting Fulham at home at 7.45pm and Villa away at Burton, also at 7.45pm.