It was hardly a vintage performance from Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, but the Reds booked their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup after defeating League One side Fleetwood Town by a goal to nil at the City Ground.
The Reds have made a mixed start to their Championship campaign, with Sabri Lamouchi’s side looking to build on a positive 1-1 draw against Leeds United at the weekend.
Tuesday night’s clash also allowed the 47-year-old to rotate his squad that is filled with nearly 40 senior players, as they looked to ease past Joey Barton’s side on Trentside.
Forest know all too well about cup upsets, though. Last season they were nearly shocked by Bury at the City Ground, and they were also knocked out by League One side Burton in the round of 16 last season, so Fleetwood were not a team to underestimate.
The Cod Army have won both of their opening games in League One, with Barton making only two changes to the squad that beat AFC Wimbledon 2-1 at the weekend.
As perhaps expected, Sabri Lamouchi made a host of changes to the side that drew 1-1 with the Whites at the weekend, with Tiago Silva and Joe Worrall the only players keeping their place in the side.
There were debuts for the likes of Brice Samba, Yuri Ribeiro and John Bostock, with Sammy Ameobi also being rewarded for an impressive substitute cameo against Leeds with his first Forest start.
The game started off, perhaps unsurprisingly, with Forest in the driving seat – another debutant in Carl Jenkinson forcing an early acrobatic save out of Alex Cairns, after a Reds free-kick was headed away.
Fleetwood didn’t come to the City Ground just to make up the numbers, though. Barton’s side deployed a 4-3-3 system, which saw two holding midfielders Paul Coutts and Jordan Rossiter sit back, as Forest struggled to break the visitors down.
But the League One side had arguably the best chance of the first half, as a Coutts corner was met by defender Harry Souttar at the back post, who forced a point-blank save out of Samba in goal.
The visitors also had two dangerous chances from set-pieces too. Danny Andrew with a teasing long-range effort that Samba had to tip over early on, and Ash Hunter having an effort put just wide of the goal.
The half-time whistle blew and Forest had to step it up a level or two, having seen the League One men dominate the final stages of what had been a drab first-half.
The Reds started off much brighter after the interval, however, with Yuri Ribeiro and Sammy Ameobi linking up well down the left-hand side, as the former began to grow into the game and cause Fleetwood problems down the left flank.
Bostock then had a chance to open the scoring after a corner, but his shot was fired straight into the Trent End. Nonetheless, Forest were getting back on top, and they didn’t have to wait too long before finding a long-awaited breakthrough.
After smart link-up play from Bostock and Silva in the area, the latter fired the ball into the roof of the net, to score his first goal in a Garibaldi shirt and put Forest into a deserved 1-0 lead.
Forest then began to start playing with a little bit of swagger, as Samba Sow’s flick nearly found Rafa Mir who was hungry for chances all night long, but the Wolves loanee failing to make an impact in his first Reds start.
Substitutions were made by both teams towards the latter stages of the contest. Matty Cash and Brennan Johnson brought on for Arvin Appiah and Samba Sow respectively, and Ross Wallace replacing Rossiter.
On the topic of making impacts, Wallace almost made an immediate one, with the Scot having a wicked free-kick saved by Samba, as Barton’s side searched desperately for an equaliser.
Paddy Madden was then sent through one-on-one after a long header up-field, but his effort was put wide after strong pressure from Joe Worrall. The visitors trying to find an equaliser by throwing centre-half Souttar up top, but to no avail.
Forest held onto their lead, booking their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup. It was hardly an eye-catching performance by Lamouchi’s side, but they came to life in the second half .
Plenty to work on for Lamouchi and his second-string side, but Tiago Silva’s little bit of quality in the final third was enough to earn Forest a win, as well as earning him the man of the match award on the night.
Fleetwood frustrated Forest for the large part, but a job well done for Lamouchi’s men on Trentside – they will play arch rivals Derby County in the second round.