Cardiff City piled further pressure on Nottingham Forest boss Chris Hughton after a 2-1 win at the City Ground this afternoon.
Substitute Ruben Colwill inspired a second-half turnaround for the Bluebirds, condemning Forest to their fifth defeat of the campaign.
It was the visitors who posed the early threat, with Joel Bagan rising highest at the far post to head onto the crossbar, before a combined effort from Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna cleared the loose ball amid a goalmouth scramble.
But the hosts did grow into the contest, with Lyle Taylor receiving the ball inside the area before whistling an effort just over the crossbar.
Taylor was to be joined by Lewis Grabban in the starting line-up as Chris Hughton looked to combat the powerful physical threat of Cardiff’s three central defenders: Aden Flint, Sean Morrison and Curtis Nelson.
On 23 minutes, however, it was his side who broke the deadlock through the returning Grabban.
Max Lowe – one of two debutants for Forest on the day – created the goal, exchanging a neat one-two with Brennan Johnson before racing to the byline and pulling the ball back for Grabban, who slotted low and beyond Dillon Phillips. Plenty of endeavour shown by Lowe, a clinical edge shown by Grabban, and a big opening goal for Chris Hughton’s side.
Cardiff struggled to ignite a response before half-time, with Brice Samba equal to Mark Harris’ low left-footed inside the area, turning the ball around for a corner.
Frustrations began to grow amongst the Bluebirds’ camp, in fact, with Will Vaulks being shown a yellow card for voicing his frustrations following a physical battle between Taylor, Flint and Nelson.
It was Vaulks who blazed an effort wildly over the crossbar after a dangerous long throw, as the first half came to an end shortly after.
Looking for a response, McCarthy rang the changes in the early stages of the second half, introducing Kieffer Moore and Rubin Colwill – and the latter was to make an immediate impact.
Vaulks’ dangerous cross from the right wasn’t dealt with properly, and Colwill, who had only just come on, swept home to equalise with his first touch of the ball. A perfect start to the half for the visitors, who put themselves on level terms on 56 minutes.
Cardiff’s confidence levels grew in huge amounts after finding the equalising goal, with set-pieces proving to be a problem for the Reds. A long punt into the box from a free-kick was fumbled by Samba, with Mark Harris volleying over.
But McCarthy’s side came inches away from turning the game completely on its head, with Moore’s header cannoning off the post. Aden Flint then came close from another set-piece delivery, with his effort kept out at point-blank range by Samba at the far post.
Forest looked to survive the Bluebirds’ resurgence, with Hughton replacing Philip Zinckernagel with Joe Lolley on 67 minutes. The latter dragged an effort well wide soon after, after driving forward with the ball.
But as the minutes ticked away, Cardiff completed their turnaround, with Colwill dazzling once again.
The 19-year-old found space in midfield, driving towards goal before bending an excellent left-footed effort beyond Samba and into the bottom corner. Two goals in 16 minutes for Colwill, with McCarthy’s men rewarded for a much-improved second-half display.
The game was primed for a lively final 15 minutes, with Forest looking to respond almost immediately. Perry Ng was shown a yellow card for hacking down the onrushing James Garner, who got up and had his free-kick tipped over the crossbar from 25 yards.
Ryan Yates was the next to threaten from distance, with his powerful long-range effort only parried away by Phillips, with Lolley then placing another shot off target soon after.
But the Reds were unable to galvanise any late turnaround, and the final whistle blew. A return to winning ways for Cardiff, and a fifth defeat from six games for Forest.