Nottingham Forest eased towards victory in the second round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night, defeating bitter rivals Derby County by three goals to nil at the City Ground.
The Reds would have been buoyed on going into the encounter after an impressive week in the Sky Bet Championship, defeating promotion contenders Fulham 2-1 at the weekend.
They faced a Derby side who have failed to pick up a win in the league since their opening day victory over Huddersfield Town – Phillip Cocu’s side being held to a 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, but form goes out of the window in local derbies, as they say.
Both managers made a host of changes to the side that they fielded at the weekend – Forest making eight changes to the team that beat the Cottagers, and Derby making an eye-opening 10 changes to the 11 that drew with the Baggies.
The night also presented the opportunity for a number of youngsters to make their full debuts and experience first-team football – Cocu handing Louie Sibley and Morgan Whittaker their first starts for the Rams, and Lamouchi doing the same with midfielder Brennan Johnson.
The evening also gave Rafa Mir to make an impact under Lamouchi – the Spanish forward failed to set the world alight when given 90 minutes against Fleetwood Town in the previous round, but he replaced Lewis Grabban who netted a brace against Fulham.
It was a tight, scrappy affair in the opening stages, as perhaps expected between two sides who have one of the most fiercest rivalries in British football, but it was Mir who had the best chances in the first 20 minutes.
John Bostock played a short free-kick to Matty Cash, whose cross was directed towards the back post and headed down to the Wolves loanee, however the powerful forward could not put his acrobatic volley on target as it sailed over the bar.
Young midfielder Johnson was soon part of the action too, dispossessing Curtis Davies at the back and pulling the ball back to Mir, who again, could not beat Ben Hamer in the Rams net with a tame first-time effort from 15 yards.
But Mir played an integral role as Forest broke the deadlock against their bitter rivals – Joe Lolley’s corner was flicked on by the Spaniard, and the header fell to Albert Adomah at the back stick who tapped in with ease. An apt goal, considering that it came just moments after an emotional minute’s applause in the 23rd minute for the late Junior Agogo, who sadly passed away on Thursday.
The atmosphere inside the City Ground grew and grew by the minute, and less than 10 minutes later, the Reds blew Derby away with another goal as they began to dominate the encounter.
It was time for Adomah to turn provider – the experienced wide-man produced some fantastic trickery down the left flank, and his cross was met by the onrushing Joe Lolley who powerfully headed home.
Phillip Cocu would not have been happy with his side’s lacklustre performance in the first half, especially in the defensive areas, and they simply had to respond. Jamie Paterson, upon his return to the City Ground, tried his best to ignite a comeback, however after a darting run down the left, his pull-back was put way over by Morgan Whittaker.
The teams headed down the tunnel for the interval, and after coming back out for the second half, it was Forest who continued to put the pressure on their opponents. Set-pieces proving difficult for the Rams to handle again, as Joe Worrall saw his header saved by Hamer from close-range in the 47th minute.
Derby faced an uphill battle as they desperately tried to get back into the game. In the 55th minute, Cocu replaced young Sibley with Jack Marriott.
The City Ground faithful also lifted their decibel levels up a level or two when Joao Carvalho emerged from the dugout to replace the impressive Johnson – the former had been out of action since the start of pre-season, after sustaining an injury against Alfreton Town.
It didn’t take look for the club’s record-signing to make an impact either – Matty Cash’s wicked low cross caused Derby problems, and their attempted clearance hit Carvalho’s boot and rocketed into the top corner.
A goal we do not really tend to associate with the silky midfielder, but a goal nonetheless, as the Reds cruised to victory.
It has been a fantastic week for all concerned with the Reds – seven points from three tough matches, and a win over their bitter rivals in the first East Midlands derby of the season. Lamouchi’s side will now be hoping to carry that momentum into the upcoming home clash with Preston on Saturday.
For Derby, meanwhile, it was another performance to forget, with Cocu’s men falling victims to a dominant Forest side, who created far better chances and controlled the game much more effectively on the night.