Three sloppy pieces of defending cost Bristol City as Forest strengthened their grip on a play-off place at Ashton Gate.
City boss Keith Millen made five changes from the side narrowly beaten by Sheffield United two days ago, with fit-again Louis Carey, Cole Skuse, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, David Clarkson and Jon Stead all restored to the starting line-up.
Not that it made an iota of difference as Forest swept into a fourth minute lead.
After forcing a save from David James moments earlier, Lewis McGugan’s right-wing cross was swept in by Kris Boyd.
And after Stead had fired just wide and Campbell-Ryce dragged his shot past the post, Forest doubled their lead against the run of play.
The lively McGugan went down in the penalty box following a clumsy Louis Carey challenge, allowing Boyd to step up and score his – and his side’s – second of the afternoon.
City were playing some nice stuff and got their just rewards when Marvin Elliott’s far post header finished off a slick passing move on 47 mintues.
A superb passing move involving four City players sent Campbell-Ryce away down the left and his cross picked out Elliott to give the home side hope.
Albert Adomah’s drive from the edge of the box flew narrowly over the top, before Stead deservedly headed City level on the hour.
Jordan Spence picked out the former Ipswich striker who guided his header back across Forest ‘keeper Lee Camp and inside the far post.
Just when it looked like the spoils would be shared for another year, the impressive McGugan swang in a 72nd minute cross for Luke Chambers to loop his header over James to win it.
Millen sent on Marlon Jackson for his City debut and the youngster thought he had made an instant impact with a stoppage equaliser only for the referee to rule it out for handball.
CITY (4-4-2): James; Spence, Carey (Jackson ’87), Nyatanga, McAllister; Adomah, Skuse, Elliott, Campbell-Ryce; Clarkson (Pitman ’74), Stead.
FOREST (4-4-2): Camp; Moloney (Gunter ’77), Morgan, Chambers, Konchesky; Moussi, McKenna, Cohen, McGugan (Bennett ’81); Earnshaw, Boyd (Findley ’65).
REFEREE: Roger East (Wiltshire)
* Match ratings provided by Ian Gay.
David James – 5
Spilled the first one and, for a ‘keeper of his quality, that’s unacceptable. Several throw-out’s put us under pressure and conceded possesion. Kicking wasn’t great either.
Jordan Spence – 7
Strong defending and some good forward forays. Neat cross for Stead’s goal once again demonstrated his flourishing ability and I’d love to see him back here next season.
Lewin Nyatanga – 7
Solid defensive display.
Louis Carey – 4
Looked half-cooked and why wouldn’t he after coming back from a fractured skull? Hopeless for all of their goals. Big fan of Carey, but he was terrible today.
Jamie McAllister – 6
Defended well enough but, once again, produced a series of poor set pieces.
Albert Adomah – 6
Didn’t get enough of the ball, especially in the first half. Better second half.
Cole Skuse – 5
Better second half and worked hard enough, but the passing radar was off.
Marvin Elliott – 6
His eighth goal of the season can’t be sniffed at, however, he gives the ball away repeatedly and rarely sets up goals in open play.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce – 6
Bags of effort and an assist for Elliott’s goal on the one occassion he didn’t come onto his allegedly stronger right foot and slice it miles over the bar, or chip to Stead!
David Clarkson – 4
Not good enough in midfield and, ala LJ, having watched him for a couple of years now I know he’s not a striker! Then again, he’s not an attacking midfielder either, so the question begs – what is he?…..Keep it clean!
Jon Stead – 7
Took his goal well and looked fitter. Not afforded enough respect or protection by the referee with Forest’s defenders crawling all over and was poorly supported by Clarkson.
Brett Pitman – 6
One shot and should have played from the start.
Marlon Jackson – 6
Booked for punching one in. Cameo really.
KEITH MILLEN – 6
With Stewart, Fontaine, Caulker, Ribiero & Cisse all missing through injury and Maynard suspended, Milly couldn’t have done much different. However, I still reckon that Pitman should have started in place of Clarkson who must surely be on his way in the close season.
Dominance counts for nothing!
City dominated the game for long periods but our inability to defend set-pieces continues to let us down. Sort this out in the summer and we could be right up there this time next year.