Nottingham Forest vs Huddersfield Town. Sky Bet Championship.
The City GroundAttendance20,411.
Saturday 8 April 2017 18:10, UK
Nottingham Forest triumphed 2-0 to claim their first win under Mark Warburton and eased their relegation fears - but put a dent in Huddersfield's already floundering automatic promotion hopes.
A close range finish from Eric Lichaj in the 32nd minute and a fine solo effort from Jamie Ward 12 minutes into the second half lifted Forest five points clear of the bottom three in the Championship, on an afternoon when they might have won by a bigger margin.
David Wagner's side are now well adrift of the top two and they rarely looked like denying Warburton his first win, in his fourth game in charge of the Reds.
Forest burst into life in the 18th minute when Zach Clough threaded a pass to Jamie Ward in the box, keeper Danny Ward initially looked to have smothered the ball, but it squirmed out and he had to regain his feet to save at the second attempt.
From the resulting corner Ben Osborn picked out Ward at the far post and his header back was attacked powerfully by Joe Worrall - but his header was cleared off the line by Tareiq Holmes-Dennis.
Jamie Ward was at the centre of things again as he fired in a dangerous low ball from the left side, with Brereton finding the side-netting with a shot at full stretch. Huddersfield responded with a powerful shot from Philip Billing, that Jordan Smith needed two attempts to hold.
Forest spurned yet another chance as Lichaj cut the ball back dangerously from the right, only for Clough to send his first time shot spinning wide.
The home side finally got their goal in the 32nd minute following more good work from Brereton, who rampaged into the box from the left, drawing keeper Danny Ward off his line, before slotting across the face of goal, leaving Lichaj to stab into the empty net from two yards out.
Jamie Ward forced yet another save from Danny Ward and, from the corner, Worrall was inches wide with another header. The Reds will have been kicking themselves at only being 1-0 up at the interval, with Danny Ward making an outstanding save to keep out a diving header from Jamie Ward in injury time.
Huddersfield brought on Dean Whitehead and Joe Lolley at half time and matched up Forest's 3-5-2 formation.
But, while Wells forced Smith into an awkward stop with a driven shot, it was Forest who made it 2-0 in the 57th minute, when Jamie Ward intercepted a header from Michael Hefele and charged towards goal. The Huddersfield man tried to bring him down, but the forward kept his feet and his composure to slot the ball beyond the keeper.
Lichaj almost had a second goal after Cohen sent him clear, but Danny Ward made a big save to deny the wingback.
Huddersfield were inches away from pulling one back when Hefele sent a header looping wide. While sub Michael Mancienne cleared off the line to deny Aaron Mooy.
Nottingham Forest boss Mark Warburton:
"It is all about Friday now. We will do everything to make sure we are prepared for Blackburn and the details are key. Now we focus on that. The players will see the quality there today and they will see that they get their rewards; they have to believe that if they do things right and work hard, they will get their rewards. We saw that today.
"We are delighted with three points, which are vital at this stage of the season. But I was also delighted with the quality of the performance.
"We expected a reaction from them and there was one. We had to weather the storm. But we kept the ball and created chance after chance. It was a very pleasing performance against a quality unit."
Huddersfield boss David Wagner:
"Today we did not perform and this was the biggest problem. We have to make sure we perform better. But we are human. We were second best, particularly in the first half. They surprised us with their set up. They surprised us. We were not expecting that.
"We were not able to make the right decisions, Forest had a three-man back line and were overloading the midfield. We were not able to catch them and close the gaps.
"We changed our formation at half time and we were better. We had opportunities. But then we made a mistake - an unusual mistake - for the second goal. We left ourselves with a mountain to climb and we were not able to do it. We have six - and hopefully more - very important games still to play. We must move on quickly now."