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Nottingham Forest vs Aston Villa. Sky Bet Championship.

The City GroundAttendance19,866.

Nottingham Forest 2

  • B Assombalonga (42nd minute)
  • B Brereton (93rd minute)

Aston Villa 1

  • J Kodjia (19th minute)
  • J Grealish (sent off 78th minute)

N Forest 2-1 Aston Villa: 17-year-old Ben Brereton fires last-minute winner for Forest

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Nott'm Forest and Aston Villa

Academy graduate Ben Brereton volleyed a stoppage-time winner as Nottingham Forest continued their hot streak under temporary boss Gary Brazil on their way to a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa.

Villa had taken the lead through Jonathan Kodjia's cool finish (19), but Forest were level at the break when Britt Assombalonga tapped home (42) after Jamie Ward's shot was only parried by Sam Johnstone. Jack Grealish received his marching orders for a second booking with 12 minutes to play.

Ben Brereton celebrates his injury time winner against Aston Villa
Image: Ben Brereton celebrates his injury-time winner against Aston Villa

Forest had dominated possession in the tie but struggled to create chances until the third minute of second-half stoppage-time when 17-year-old Brereton intercepted Assombalonga's header and volleyed in via the inside of the post.

The game was billed as a 'Clash of the Titans' style event, albeit as the two lowest-placed of all former European champions, Villa having recorded 12 draws already and both sitting in the second half of the table in the second tier.

Forest's deadline day signing Zach Clough was handed a debut after joining from Bolton, though Ross McCormack and Aaron Tshibola were both forced to watch from the stands after making the loan switch between the two teams on Tuesday.

New £12m signing Scott Hogan made his debut amongst five of Steve Bruce's January buys after making the move to the Midlands from Brentford, where he had scored 21 goals in just 36 games.

Villa fans caught a glimpse of the goalscoring prowess of Hogan early on when he tried a mazy run goalwards - uncharacteristic given his style of play with the Bees - but Eric Lichaj dispossessed the frontman before he could make the vital connection.

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But two minutes later, the away fans were on their feet when Kodjia curled home to break the deadlock. Grealish spotted the run after Hogan had drawn the central defenders away, allowing the returning Ivory Coast forward to coolly curl home a first-time shot from the edge of the area.

Villa continued to test Forest, breaking after Johnstone had found debutant Conor Hourihane on the right, before Grealish bizarrely allowed the cross-field pass to run through his legs and then having their best chance to double the lead less than 10 minutes later.

Henri Lansbury's dinked free-kick looked like a simple claim for Stephen Henderson in the Forest goal, but the ball was instead pushed into the path of Tommy Elphick, who struck a shot that was deflected behind; he headed the set-piece straight into the arms of the stopper.

Britt Assombalonga goal celeb, Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa, Sky Bet Championship
Image: Britt Assombalonga equalised for Forest before half-time

Three minutes before half-time Villa had a goalkeeping clanger of their own, but this time Forest drew level; Ward's stinging effort from the right could only be palmed away by Johnstone and into the path of Assombalonga who duly snatched the loose ball and fired home.

Forest had come out of their shell as the first half wore on and came out confidently after the break; so confidently that their goalscorer deciding that sporting socks slashed at the rear was his way on displaying that.

Hogan had another chance just before the hour mark, displaying that his partnership with Kodjia looks promising already. The latter directed a header into the former's path, he knocked it on and fired a low shot that forced a smart save from Henderson.

Neither side forced themselves on the game as it entered the final third, but the Forest stopper was called into action once again 10 minutes later when James Chester headed on another Lansbury free-kick, when he pulled a superb stop out of the bag.

After an earlier trivial booking, Grealish was given a second yellow card after his trip on Lichaj and it gave Forest the extra impetus to drive forward, which they did for the final 10 minutes.

Brereton had only made his debut on January 25 and after being reportedly chased by clubs throughout January, he announced himself to the world when he latched onto Assombalonga's knock-down and fired a volley past Henderson via the left-hand post.

Forest caretaker boss Gary Brazil

"I thought we played a really good game, thoroughly deserved the win, it was a long time coming, it was a good time to score the winning goal, there wasn't a lot of time after that. I was very pleased with the team on the whole. I thought from 20 minutes to go in the first half through to the second, we looked a real threat, we looked a decent football team and it's another step in the right direction.

"We're making baby steps all the time and this was a really good baby step.

"We were looking for that opportunity and it fell to Ben an as he knows he has done for a number of occasions, put it in the back of the net for us, great."

Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce

"I got the distinct impression, he [the referee] couldn't wait to send him [Grealish] off. He's passed the ball back to him, it's not as if he has kicked it away, he gives him the yellow card, he's missed a challenge, there was other challenges, no yellow card, he couldn't wait to send him off with the reaction of the crowd.

"We've had more chances tonight than we have had in a long time, which is the positive thing. We've given an awful goal just before half-time, which every little mistake we are getting punished for at the minute. So we have to stay strong, dust ourselves down, but there was big improvements today and we will get better."

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