Nottingham Forest fell to their sixth league defeat of the season on Wednesday evening, with a 2-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough piling further pressure on manager Chris Hughton.
Sunday’s defeat to Cardiff City meant that Forest had made their worst start to a league campaign in 108 years, with the Reds now having picked up one point from a possible 21.
Goals from Andraz Sporar and Onel Hernandez on Wednesday evening ensured that Boro would return to winning ways, placing Hughton’s future in charge at the City Ground in further doubt.
It was Forest who actually started the brighter in a scrappy opening 15 minutes of the contest. Max Lowe’s driving run resulted in Philip Zinckernagel receiving the ball out wide on the left before driving forward and firing goalwards. The Dane’s effort was parried only to Lewis Grabban, but even though his shot was well saved, the offside flag was raised.
Zinckernagel then had a sight of goal soon after, as he met Brennan Johnson’s cross from the right but his headed effort lacked conviction to beat Joe Lumley.
James Garner fired wide from the edge of the area following a flowing attacking move, but this seemed to act as a wake-up call for Boro who grew into the contest soon after, leading to Neil Warnock’s side breaking the deadlock.
Marcus Tavernier cut Forest open with a clever through ball, and Andraz Sporar – making his first league start since arriving on loan from Sporting Lisbon – was sent through one-on-one, before emphatically firing beyond Ethan Horvath into the roof of the net.
There was nothing the American international could do about that on the night he made his league debut for the Reds, with Boro making the breakthrough and taking the lead on 24 minutes.
Forest looked to ignite a quick response, with Brennan Johnson firing an effort through a crowd of players and Loic Mbe Soh backheeling straight into the gloves of Lumley.
Their best chance of the half, in fact, came in added time, with Johnson keeping an attack alive and crossing towards the far post. Lyle Taylor headed back across goal, with Joe Worrall having a volley deflected wide from the penalty spot.
The half-time whistle blew moments later, with a small section of the City Ground booing after witnessing an overall drab first-half display.
Forest did start the second half the brighter of the two sides. Johnson’s run was met with a low cross across goal but evaded everyone, and Philip Zinckernagel’s teasing, looping effort landed on the roof of the net.
Hughton began to ring the changes shortly after the hour mark, looking to add attacking inspiration. Xande Silva replaced Taylor, whilst Joe Lolley replaced James Garner.
But as the famous saying goes – “when it rains, it pours” – and this was the case for debutant Horvath on 72 minutes.
Mbe Soh’s backpass was slightly heavy for the goalkeeper, whose first touch was even heavier. Onel Hernandez nicked it off the American, before rolling the ball into an empty net. The easiest goal the winger will ever score, and an invaluable second for Boro.
Mbe Soh was replaced by Jayden Richardson in Forest’s final change soon after, but the damage was already done.
Silva flashed an effort wide of the far post after an exchange with Lewis Grabban, before Boro came close to a third goal of their own.
Substitute Uche Ikpeazu saw a header kept out by Horvath at point-blank range at the far post, with Matt Crooks’ acrobatic effort being cleared off the line by Worrall.
After five minutes were ended on at the end of the half, the full-time whistle blew met by a chorus of boos from the home faithful. Six defeats from seven games leaves the manager’s position in real uncertainty on another bleak night for the club.