Forest end Derby unbeaten away record in East Midlands encounter
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | November 6, 2015
Nottingham Forest 1-0 Derby County
- Reds go ahead early through Oliveira opener
- Hendrick hits bar for Rams
- Derby could’ve gone top of Championship with two-goal win
- Forest up to 15th with clear daylight between them and relegation zone
Nelson Oliveira’s first City Ground goal allowed Nottingham Forest to end their dismal run of eight Championship games without a win, beating bitter rivals Derby County with an outstanding rearguard action.
East Midlands derby bragging rights remain with the Tricky Trees, who on Remembrance Weekend called The Last Post for the Rams’ unbeaten away record this term. County thus missed the chance to go top of the table in what is shaping up to be the tightest Premier League promotion race for some time.
Under-fire Forest boss Dougie Freedman brought experience back into his engine-room with Henri Lansbury and David Vaughan restored. Crystal Palace loanee Jonny Williams played further forward in support of Oliveira.
Reds youngsters Jorge Grant and Ben Osborn, who both started the defeat at Preston North End, dropped out, although the latter was retained on the bench alongside recent acquisition Liam Trotter.
Rams head coach Neil Clement, meanwhile, made two changes with one enforced. Left back Craig Forsyth sustained a season-ending injury last time out against QPR, so veteran Stephen Warnock deputised. George Thorne returned from suspension in midfield, replacing Jacob Butterfield.
Williams’ dive in the Derby area saw him booked for simulation with just 30 seconds played by referee Simon Hooper, but that did not deter Forest from getting forward. Inside five minutes, the hosts had a lead through Oliveira.
Celebrating his call-up to the Portugal squad for end of year friendlies against Russia and Luxembourg, Oliveira needed two bites to net. Initially set up by Ryan Mendes’ raid down the left, former Rams forward Jamie Ward teed up the second chance that took a nick off Richard Keogh en route to finding the bottom corner of Scott Carson’s near post.
Clement’s County immediately went on the offensive in search of an equaliser, however, with in-form Andreas Weimann seeing his effort blocked. Carson then had to be at full-stretch to deny Ward, who caught Warnock upfield and got the ball back from an inviting Oliveira layoff.
Reds ride their luck
Tricky Trees centre backs Matt Mills and Jack Hobbs marshalled Derby dangerman Chris Martin well, but Jeff Hendrick’s sweet curling strike midway through the first-half pinged off the angle of post and bar.
Lansbury lashed narrowly wide from long-range after patient Forest build-up play before Mendes forced a corner. Mills had the ball in the Rams net again from that resulting set-piece, but match official Hooper’s whistle had gone, though it was difficult to see precisely what for.
Dorus de Vries in the home goal palmed away from Johnny Russell following Hendrick’s clever dummy, as County retained a considerable threat, yet went in behind.
Tricky Trees with terrific rearguard action
Forest appeared content to sit back and defend their slender lead in a bid to draw Derby out and hit them on the counter. Daniel Pinillos did just that, dancing to the byline and squared across a seemingly gaping away goal.
Were it not for Warnock’s great last-ditch tackle, County would have been two down, but he did just enough to deny Reds winger Mendes a back-post tap-in.
Former Forest loanee Tom Ince came off the Rams bench in a bid to inspire the turnaround, but was roundly booed by the Tricky Trees support and found the door slammed shut time and again.
Derby out of ideas
Coach Clement threw Darren Bent on alongside Martin, who earlier wasted a free-kick in a promising position, for the last 10 minutes, but instead it was the Reds that went close again with a combination of Jason Shackell and Carson saving County.
Victory takes Forest 15th, easing the pressure on boss Freedman somewhat. Derby must now wait to see how much ground they lose on promotion rivals, including Burnley, Hull City and Middlesbrough.
A City Ground pitch invasion after the final whistle showed the level of relief felt by Reds fans. Can this be the catalyst for Freedman’s men, despite that transfer embargo, to kick on?
Check out our Championship coverage.