2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Joe Lolley (6')
  • Matthew Cash (79')
  • Michael Morrison (87')

Forest heap more pressure on Steve Cotterill with narrow victory

Nottingham Forest heaped more pressure on under-fire Steve Cotterill as they secured a 2-1 win at the City Ground - but Aitor Karanka's side had to work hard for three points.
Michael Morrison's 87th minute header ensured a nervous finish, on an afternoon when Reds keeper Costel Pantilimon had to make some important saves to hold the Blues at bay.
That was Birmingham's first goal in five Championship matches, but it was not enough to prevent a fifth straight defeat, as goals from Joe Lolley and Matty Cash, either side of half-time, helped Forest notch up a fourth game unbeaten, to put a bit of breathing space between them and the bottom three.
But Birmingham remain in the relegation zone and Cotterill will continue to face questions about his future.
It took Forest only six minutes to take the lead, after Lolley had collected a ball from Lee Tomlin, before advancing powerfully toward the edge of the penalty area, where some clever footwork gave him the room to find the bottom corner with a crisp shot, albeit with the aid of a slight deflection.
Forest had a let-off when Jacques Maghoma cut a dangerous ball back into the area from the right, picking out Maikel Kieftenbeld, who skied his shot well over.
Harlee Dean had another chance to level from a free-kick, but guided his angled effort the wrong side of the post, as Forest appealed for an offside decision that never came.
Forest looked to add more attacking threat by replacing the youthful Ben Brereton with the experienced Daryl Murphy up front at half-time.
It was Cash who almost scored six minutes into the second half when he hammered a rising shot from 14 yards that looked to be bound for the net, until bouncing away off the underside of the bar.
Within a minute, David Stockdale had to make an adept save to push away a crisp strike from Tendayi Darikwa. Murphy was next to threaten as he flicked across goal and wide, following a low cross from Cash. Jack Colback then had a shot held by Stockdale at the second attempt.
Birmingham sub Lukas Jutkiewicz also forced an awkward save from Pantilimon with a long-range effort.
Forest gave themselves some breathing space with 11 minutes to go, as Ben Osborn's cross-field pass found Cash in space on the right. His first touch was good, but his next one was better, as he applied a precise finish from just inside the box, sending a low shot across goal and inside the far post to make it 2-0.
When Craig Gardner delivered a corner towards the far post, Morrison rose to power home a header and give Birmingham late hope with three minutes to play.
Another corner caused panic in the Forest defence, with Ben Watson sending an attempted clearance spinning towards his own net, but Pantilimon held on - and so did the home side.

English League Championship Standings

1 Norwich City 21 +14 43
2 Leeds United 21 +17 42
3 West Bromwich Albion 22 +15 39
4 Sheffield United 22 +9 37
5 Derby County 21 +7 37
6 Middlesbrough 21 +9 36
7 Nottingham Forest 21 +10 34
8 Aston Villa 21 +9 32
9 Birmingham City 21 +5 30
10 Stoke City 21 +2 30
11 Blackburn Rovers 21 -4 30
12 Swansea City 21 +2 29
13 Bristol City 21 +1 29
14 Queens Park Rangers 21 -6 28
15 Preston North End 21 -3 25
16 Wigan Athletic 21 -6 25
17 Sheffield Wednesday 21 -11 24
18 Brentford 21 +1 22
19 Hull City 21 -9 21
20 Rotherham United 21 -11 21
21 Millwall 21 -9 19
22 Reading 21 -8 18
23 Bolton Wanderers 21 -14 18
24 Ipswich Town 21 -20 11