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Report: Blues 2 Nottingham Forest 0

Blues went in front on 13 minutes with a lovely Jota finish and wrapped up the win with Adams’ 16th goal of a prolific season.

BCFC.COM

Jota’s first goal for almost five months and Che’s Adams stoppage-time penalty moves Blues to within four points of the top six after a hard-fought but richly-deserved victory over Nottingham Forest.

Blues went in front on 13 minutes with a lovely Jota finish and wrapped up the win with Adams’ 16th goal of a prolific season.

Forest pressed hard for an equaliser after the break but came up against a determined and resolute home defence, with Lee Camp never seriously troubled between the home posts.

Martin O’Neill’s recently-inherited team finished the game with 10 men after the sending-off in added-on time of Yohan Benalouane, after his handball which gave Adams the opportunity to score for the fifth successive league game.

Wes Harding was recalled at right-back, with Maxime Colin moving across to the opposite side to fill the void left by the suspended Kristian Pedersen. And the young defender was involved in the game’s first attack just a few seconds in, producing a wonderful out-swinging cross from close to the byline which was met by the head of Lukas Jutkiewicz, the striker unable to keep his effort down.

Joe Lolley, the former St. Andrew’s schoolboy who had scored four goals in his six previous outings against Blues, came within a whisker of adding to that tally on nine minutes. The winger cut in from the right and fired in a shot that bounced back off the base of Camp’s right-hand post.

Jota opened the scoring after showing a great turn of speed to burst onto Jutkiewicz’s flick-on inside the area and then displayed superb technique to guide the bouncing ball into the bottom right corner of the net with a first-time shot, so accurately placed that Forest keeper Costel Pantilimon stood no chance.

Blues enjoyed slightly more of the possession during the first period and pressed in search of a second goal before the break. Jota’s half-volley from the edge of the area didn’t dip quite enough to trouble Pantilimon whilst the Forest custodian was called into action to turn aside a low shot from Jutkiewicz after good hold-up play from Adams.

In the last minute of the half, there were loud appeals for a penalty from the home fans after Adams appeared to be nudged in the back by Forest debutant Alexander Milosevic inside the area, but the referee wasn’t convinced.

The visitors had the first sight of goal after the interval, Ben Guedioura collecting the ball in acres of space midway into Blues’ half but his wayward shot from 25 yards out was always veering off target.

O’Neill made two changes to his side on the hour, including the introduction of a striker – Lewis Grabban – for defender Milosevic as he looked for a way back into the game, but it was Blues that created the next chance. Jota skipping through the Forest backline after neat play from Kieftenbeld and Adams, but the winger’s shot was straight down the throat of Pantilimon.

Leo Bonatini, Forest’s other introduced sub, should have done better when the ball dropped to him only 15 yards out, but his effort was easily claimed by ex-City Ground keeper Camp. At the other end, Adams’ pace continued to cause the visiting defence problems, the striker getting to the byline and seeing his cross-shot palmed behind by Pantilimon.

Fit-again Isaac Vassell and new boy Kerim Mrabti both got a taste of the action, the latter making his debut for the Club following his January arrival.

Blues were hanging on slightly as the minutes ticked down and there was a hearts-in-mouths moment four minutes from the end when the ball dropped to Bonatini inside the area and the substitute’s volley was deflected narrowly wide of the right post.

Adams was inches away from connecting to Vassell’s whipped-in cross as the game entered stoppage-time, but Blues were going to get their second goal and complete a good day at the office. Vassell showed great perseverance to get into the area before he went down under a challenge, the referee didn’t blow then but did seconds later when Adams’ follow-up shot was kept out by the arm of Benalouane on the goal line.

The Forest defender was shown a red card and Adams took responsibility for the spot-kick and calmly stroked the ball into the bottom right corner, sending Pantilimon the wrong way. The win was safely in the bag and three points which take Blues above city rivals Aston Villa on goal difference in the Sky Bet Championship table and up to eighth.    

Blues (4-4-2): Camp; Harding, Morrison, Dean, Colin; Jota (C Gardner 85), G Gardner, Kieftenbeld, Maghoma (Kerim Mrabti 81); Jutkiewicz (Vassell 78), Adams.
Subs not used: Dacres-Cogley, Mahoney, Lubala, Trueman.

Goals: Jota (13), Adams pen (90+2)
Booking: Kieftenbeld (79)

Forest (4-5-1): Pantilimon; Janko, Milosevic (Grabban 60), Benalouane, Robinson; Cash, Guedioura (Carvalho 72), Watson, Osborn, Lolley; Murphy (Bonatini 60).
Subs not used: Yacob, Goncalves, Pele, Steele.

Bookings: Lolley (22), Benalouane (54)
Red Card: Benalouane (90+1)

Attendance: 24,235 (3,074 away)

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