Nottingham Forest made it three wins from three in pre-season with a 2-0 victory over Northampton Town on Tuesday night.
A strong Forest side consisting of the likes of Joe Worrall, Lewis Grabban and Joe Lolley took to the field, and after scoring a delightful opener against Vale on Saturday afternoon, Alex Mighten came the closest to breaking the deadlock for the Reds in the first half.
The tricky winger received the ball out wide before driving infield and unleashing a powerful drive which had to be met by the glove of Liam Roberts, who tipped the effort over the bar.
But that was to be the Reds’ only clear-cut chance in a half which was played with very little tempo, and it was in fact Northampton who had the better of the chances.
The lively Aaron McGowan was enjoying plenty of success at wingback, proving to be a thorn in Jayden Richardson’s side. On 27 minutes, he teed a cross up to the middle and found the head of an unmarked Nicke Kabamba, whose effort was gratefully tipped onto the bar by Jordan Smith. Benny Ashley-Seal was alert to follow the effort up, but was to be ruled offside soon after.
Smith had to be alert once again moments later, with McGowan breaking the lines again and pulling a dangerous ball back into the middle, which was eventually smothered by the Reds’ goalkeeper.
Jordan Flores was the next to call Smith into action, seeing a dipping volley kept out well shortly before the half-time whistle blew.
Chris Hughton began to ring the changes at half-time, with Lyle Taylor and Loic Mbe Soh replacing Lewis Grabban and Scott McKenna respectively – and it was Taylor who made an immediate impact.
Four minutes into the second half, Jordan Gabriel’s low cross caused havoc and Roberts was unable to clear the danger, allowing Taylor to ghost in and slide the ball into an empty net. The striker’s first touch of the ball proving to be decisive, as Forest took the lead.
The Reds then went in search of a second when Joe Lolley saw a long-range effort fizz over the crossbar, but Northampton then threatened to hit back with an instant equaliser, with Chukwuemeka spinning inside the area and firing off target.
Chukwuemeka was proving to be a danger, though, and he did find the net moments later as he produced a composed finish into the bottom corner. Unfortunately for the 19-year-old, he was adjudged to be offside and no goal was given.
But Northampton’s hopes of getting back into the game were dashed minutes later when the Reds found a second goal.
Mighten, who had just stung the palms of Roberts’ glove with another fierce drive, found space on the left before switching the play for Cafu. The midfielder took one touch out of his feet, before rifling an effort low and hard into the bottom corner. 2-0 to Forest on 62 minutes.
Further changes were then introduced by Hughton, with one eye cast on Saturday’s trip to Crewe Alexandra. The dangerous Mighten being replaced by Ateef Konate, and Worrall and Lolley being replaced by Baba Fernandes and Nuno da Costa.
Northampton kept on battling though, and it was Smith who Forest had to thank for keeping Northampton at bay, tipping Michael Harriman’s long-range drive over the bar. Soon after, an error from the shot-stopper gifted Dylan Connolly with an open goal, but he blazed over on the angle.
Joao Carvalho was to have the final chance of the game, showing good awareness to make a late run into the box before seeing his toe-poked effort deflect wide for a corner.
But a third goal wasn’t to arrive as Forest recorded a third successive win in pre-season, with the game finishing 2-0.