Nottingham Forest 1-2 Cardiff: Bluebirds maintain unbeaten start under Neil Warnock
By Dan Long
Last Updated: 22/10/16 8:34pm
Cardiff continued their unbeaten start under Neil Warnock, but had to survive a late fightback to beat Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Forest had dominated possession in the first 20 minutes of the game, but went a goal down after 29 minutes when an unmarked Aron Gunnarsson headed home Peter Whittingham's corner.
Just 10 minutes later, Cardiff had the ball in the net when Joe Ralls finished off a move created by a mistake from Forest left-back Armand Traore and the visitors continued in confident form until the final minute of the game, when Henri Lansbury slammed home a penalty following a foul from Gunnarsson.
After a tumultuous week within the hierarchy at the City Ground, on the pitch, Forest appeared to be the polar opposite; their desire to keep the ball was so great that at one point they had almost 75 per cent possession, but there was no goal as a reward for their efforts.
Perhaps the peak of their dominance came after 24 minutes when Forest captain, Chris Cohen, rolled a free-kick in the direction of Lansbury. The midfielder took a stride to the right and smashed a shot towards Ben Amos; if anything, it had too much bend on it as it dropped just wide of the right-hand post.
That seemed to be a turning point in the game and Cardiff - who had seen precious little of the ball - took the lead just five minutes later through Iceland international, Gunnarsson.
Ralls had earned a corner after squeezing in a cross from a tight angle; from Whittingham's set-piece, an unmarked Gunnarsson rose and headed at Stojkovic who got hands to it, but only managed to push it further into the inside of his net.
It only took 10 minutes for matters to get worse for Forest. Traore threw away possession by the corner flag and Craig Noone - who had just replaced the injured Rickie Lambert - crossed into the box. Stojkovic managed to get a foot on the cross to take it away from Pilkington, but it was a lofted clearance and landed onto the waiting head of Ralls; he had the simple tasking of nodding into the empty net with the keeper failing to recover in time.
Inside the first 10 minutes after the restart, Pajtim Kasami went close to pulling a goal back for the home side with a 35 yards piledriver, but it was beaten away by Amos who seemed intent on keeping his sheet sparkling clean.
Five minutes later, things went from bad to worse for Forest when Thomas Lam was given a straight red card as he ended an Anthony Pilkington as the last man; there was only one outcome and he was immediately given his marching orders.
Further Cardiff chances from Morrison and Noone were well defended before Pilkington missed a gilt-edged chance after rounding Stojkovic; the initial shot was blocked by Cohen, the second dropped wide with the goal gaping.
The game slowed as it's conclusion approached; Cardiff seemingly happy to accept the three points with no drama, Forest seemingly happy to accept their fate. But as Gunnarsson barged Lansbury in the final minute of normal time, a penalty was awarded.
He set Amos the wrong way and finished with aplomb, but despite rallying for an equaliser, it came to be too little too late.
Nottingham Forest manager Philippe Montanier:
"I think, every time, we made individual mistakes. And after this individual mistake, our levels have gone down and we conceded from a set-piece. It's football."
"We spoke before the game and said 'no risks in defence' as we knew Cardiff were dangerous. But after you have made two mistakes, it is difficult to keep a good level.
Cardiff boss Neil Warnock:
"I think goals change games. I always felt that we could score goals. I was told that we hadn't scored one in the first 60-odd minutes away from home this season so I thought we played well. I don't know how we didn't win by four or five if I'm honest.
"I think Andy made a meal of the penalty. I think he's one of the best referees in the league but I thought it was a soft penalty - I think he just wanted to make it exciting for the last four minutes.
"At least we've got a week without a game now and we need that. We've trained hard and we've got the result. It's a great result for us, let's be fair and no more than we deserve."