Nottingham Forest beaten by Sean O'Driscoll's Bristol City
FORMER Nottingham Forest manager Sean O'Driscoll gained revenge on the club that sacked him on Boxing Day as his Bristol City side claimed a 2-0 win at Ashton Gate.
Billy Davies, who officially starts his second spell in charge on Monday, was not at the game to witness second half goals from Steven Davies and Marvin Elliott swing things in the home side's favour.
The Scotsman was believed to be scouting Bolton, who were facing Burnley, and provide the opposition for his first game in charge, at the City Ground, next weekend.
The Reds, managed by caretaker boss Rob Kelly, might well have got something from the game, with Dexter Blackstock spurning several decent openings in a first half that the visitors had dominated for long periods - including a header that the striker thundered against the bar.
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But, after City had netted their two goals in the space of 12 minutes, they were quick to shut up shop and limit Forest's opportunities, leaving the Reds to suffer their third straight defeat.
Forest began the game with a spell of possession that lasted close to two minutes – and culminated in a cross from Andy Reid that found Billy Sharp in the box, where his lay-off carved out a shooting chance for Chris Cohen, who saw his effort charged down.
The visitors continued their bright start, with Sharp finding space down the left and centring the ball for Dexter Blackstock, who failed to properly connect at the far post, leaving Tom Heaton with a simple save.
A driving run from Radi Majewski, who left former Forest man Brendan Moloney in his wake, saw him create another chance for Blackstock, who again failed to properly connect with a shot, although a deflection also took much of the pace off the ball, leaving Heaton with another simple save.
Majewski and Reid were both seeing plenty of the ball, with the Polish midfielder in particular looking lively.
But it was Karl Darlow who had to make the first meaningful save of the game, as Jon Stead turned neatly on the edge of the box and drove in a shot that the keeper pushed away well, low to his right.
The keeper's confidence will have been high after he then superbly collected a high ball into the box, under significant pressure from Stead.
A knock-down from Danny Collins gave Majewski a shooting chance on the edge of the box, but the midfielder drove the ball wide on the half-volley.
Sharp was almost handed an opportunity when keeper Heaton and defender Liam Fontaine had a moment of confusion on the edge of the box, but the City stopper recovered to deny the striker a shot.
Cohen ended up in the stands with the Bristol fans after chasing a ball down the channel from Gonzalo Jara, with his momentum forcing him to hurdle the advertising boards, before flying head first into the seating. Fortunately, he was unhurt.
Forest were dominating for long spells, but it was the home side who were still carving out the more clear cut of the openings, with Darlow's reactions tested again when Stephen Pearson tried his luck from 12 yards.
Blackstock missed a golden chance to break the deadlock following some superb football from Dan Harding. The full back beat two men down the left before skipping into the box and crossing with the outside of his left boot, but Blackstock slammed a header against the bar from four yards.
Darlow was called into action again when former Forest defender Greg Cunningham struck a crisp shot that the keeper did well to push away. While Steven Davies bent a free kick narrowly the wrong side of the post.
A great ball from Stead put Anderson in space on the right side, six yards from goal, but he tried to cut the ball back for Davies, rather than shooting himself, and Collins made a vital, goal saving clearance.
Forest had the ball in the net within two minutes of the second half, after Heaton had failed to hold on to a long range effort from Guedioura. Blackstock pounced on the loose ball and fed Sharp, who fired high into the net – but the striker was in an offside position and the effort was quickly chalked off.
Harding, who had picked up a knock in the first half, had to be substituted in the 49th minute and replaced by Elliott Ward.
And the defender had been on the pitch for barely moments when Bristol took the lead, as a deflected shot from Davies, following a mazy run, found the back of the net.
Cunningham was booked for cutting down Jara, after the Forest man had carried the ball away from him.
A brilliant cross from Cohen, towards the far post, looked to have carved out an equaliser for Forest as Sharp connected with a powerful volley at close range, but Heaton produced an outstanding save, blocking with his legs.
Blackstock then sent a header over the bar, although Forest were annoyed that they were not awarded a corner, with his effort appearing to have taken a deflection.
Cohen had to time a tackle perfectly at the other end, as Cunningham looked poised to pull the trigger in the box. Darlow punched clear confidently, from the resulting corner.
Halford was booked for dissent in the 61st minute and continued to berate the referee, even after the card had been shown.
And, within seconds, it was 2-0, as City skipper Elliott rose powerfully at the far post to head home a Pearson free kick.
Forest made a second change with Simon Cox coming on for Jara, which meant a reshuffle at the back, with Halford moving to right back and Cohen slotting in on the opposite side of the back four.
Moloney denied Blackstock a good chance at the near post when he got in front of the striker as he attempted to attack a Cohen cross. While Sharp failed to make contact when a Ward header flew past him in front of goal.
Substitute McGugan came close to scoring two minutes after coming on for Majewski in the 79th minute, with a rising, driven shot that was not far off target.
While Heaton had to save again, as Blackstock connected with a Reid cross in the centre.
Bristol City: Heaton, Fontaine, Nyatanga, Stead, Kelly, Pearson, Davies (Burns 76), Cunningham, Moloney, Anderson (Foster 87), Elliott. Subs: Gerken, Mark Wilson, James Wilson, Reid, Bryan.
Forest: Darlow, Jara (Cox 67), Halford, Collins, Harding (Ward 49), Cohen, Majewski (McGugan 79), Guedioura, Reid, Blackstock, Sharp. Subs: Al Rashidi, Gillett, Henderson, Lansbury.
Referee: Craig Pawson.
Attendance: 13,768 (1,405 away).