Report and free match highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash between Nottingham Forest and Birmingham at the City Ground
Saturday 9 April 2022 18:41, UK
Nottingham Forest secured a fifth consecutive Championship victory with a 2-0 win over Birmingham to enhanced their promotion credentials.
An early goal from Keinan Davis and a powerful second-half header from Scott McKenna helped Steve Cooper's side to three points in front of another sell-out crowd at the City Ground.
Birmingham ensured Forest did not have things all their own way, with goalkeeper Brice Samba having to make two sharp saves to hold them at bay.
But it was Forest who moved up into third place, six points behind second-placed Bournemouth.
The home fans only had to wait five minutes before their side made the breakthrough, in spectacular fashion.
Brennan Johnson fed Davis into space down the left and the on-loan Villa man rampaged into the box, before angling a powerful low shot across goal and into the bottom corner of the net. The Birmingham fans were not impressed when the striker celebrated right in front of them.
A clever corner from James Garner picked out Johnson just inside the penalty area, but the Forest forward lashed a shot wildly over, when he had time to compose himself.
Davis was proving to be a real problem for Birmingham and when he ran at them again, Nico Gordon collected a booking for rather desperately bringing the striker down from behind.
Another Garner corner this time picked out Joe Worrall, who did well to awkwardly flick a shot narrowly over the bar.
Birmingham found a rare moment of threat when Scott Hogan twisted and turned his way into the box, but his cross-shot was wayward. Samba had to make a smart save when Kristian Pedersen battled between two Forest players to connect with an angled shot.
Taylor Richards drove in a low shot but Samba always had his body behind it, as Birmingham enjoyed a positive spell.
Forest midfielder Garner came close with a bending shot from the edge of the box, which flew inches the wrong side of the upright.
Taylor Richards should have equalised early in the second half but the Birmingham academy product headed a great chance wide.
Forest responded as Johnson lifted a clever ball into the box, where Davis sent his header too close to goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. The Birmingham man had to make a sharper save to keep out a powerful effort from Ryan Yates.
Davis came close to a second when he drove his way into the box again, before testing Etheridge with a powerful strike. Johnson then fired wide of the near post.
A foul on Johnson gave Forest a free-kick right on the edge of the box - but Garner's effort was blocked by the wall.
When Etheridge charged out of his box in a race to beat Djed Spence to a ball down the channel, the keeper collected a bad injury and was carried off the pitch following extensive treatment. After a long delay, he was replaced by Connal Trueman.
Forest made it 2-0 in the 79th minute when another precise Garner corner picked out the powerful figure of McKenna at the far post, where he forced the ball over the line.
Nottingham Forest's Steve Cooper: "We have to go to Luton and not look any further beyond that. We have the chance now to recharge and go into another two games in four days. We will not look any further than Luton. I will not look at anything else. We will focus on the things we are in control of. Our recovery, our preparation and our performance against Luton.
"The rest of it is just motivation, that is all. We keep our heads down, we work hard and we prepare for another game next weekend."
Birmingham's Lee Bowyer: "If you take the goal away, we were the better side in the first half. We asked a lot of questions of them, but we just lacked a little quality. That was the difference on the day.
"Once they got the second goal it was game over. But until that went in, we kept pushing, we kept trying. But the difference was that they had more quality than we did. That is what wins you games. For much of the season we have had the same problem. We fought well, we gave them problems - but it is just that final bit. Our problem has always been that quality in the final third. That is something that we have to keep working on."