Nottingham Forest made it back-to-back wins over the Easter period, defeating Queens Park Rangers 3-1 at the City Ground on Monday afternoon.
Goals from Alex Mighten, Lewis Grabban and James Garner helped the Reds put further daylight between themselves and the bottom three, condemning QPR to only their second defeat in seven games despite an injury-time Lyndon Dykes consolation.
It was Forest who started the game on the front foot, basking in the City Ground sunshine and making sure every blade of exquisitely-cut grass was covered as they worked the ball from right to left.
A slick passing move saw Tyler Blackett enter the QPR area on six minutes, before pulling the ball back for Lewis Grabban who failed to connect with a left-footed effort from the penalty spot.
James Garner, who scored the only goal in the Good Friday win over Cardiff, threatened to turn provider soon after Grabban’s opportunity. The Manchester United loanee’s corner was dangerous, and met the head of Ryan Yates who saw his near-post effort kept out on the line by Seny Dieng.
The returning Dieng was called into the action once again soon after. On the half-hour mark, Filip Krovinovic found space 25 yards from goal, before seeing his curled effort tipped around the post.
Mark Warburton will have been watching on from the technical area he once occupied for nine months disappointed with his side’s performance in the opening half-hour. The R’s did manage to have their first real sight of goal in 36 minutes, with the dangerous Chris Willock driving towards goal, and squaring the ball for an unmarked Stefan Johansen on the edge of the area.
Johansen was unable to force Brice Samba into action, side-footing wide with an attempt that really should have hit the target.
The Hoops were coming into this one, though. Yoann Barbet did well to read Joe Worrall’s attempted pass to Grabban, dispossessing the striker far too easily before sending a cross into the area which Charlie Austin flicked over from close-range.
But as the half-time interval loomed, Barbet was at fault as Forest broke the deadlock and took the lead. The defender attempted to shield the ball out for a goal-kick, but a determined Sammy Ameobi showed perseverance and power to win the ball on the byline, before squaring across goal for Alex Mighten to bundle home.
It was a goal that came from nowhere, but one which Forest had threatened to find for large parts of the first half. The teenager’s third goal of the campaign seeing Chris Hughton’s side head down the tunnel with a 1-0 lead at the break.
The R’s did threaten to come flying out the blocks in the second half, with Osman Kakay forcing an excellent block out of Scott McKenna one minute after the restart.
But Forest reasserted their dominance on the contest soon after. Sammy Ameobi forced a fine save out of Dieng after being picked out by Grabban on the right-hand side.
Dieng was also there to deny Garner’s superbly-hit free-kick from 25 yards, which look destined to find the top corner.
A change was made by Warburton on the hour mark as he looked to add a bit of inspiration to his side’s attacking armory, with Lyndon Dykes replacing Dominic Ball.
But Forest continued to push forward for a second goal, and they found it in tremendous style. Grabban, after receiving the ball 25 yards from goal, lifted the ball over Dieng and found the top corner with a thunderous long-range effort, putting his side into a deserved 2-0 lead.
The chances kept on coming for the hosts, too. Blackett, who was causing havoc with his marauding runs down the left-hand side, dinked a cross towards the back post as Krovinovic headed narrowly wide after rising highest.
But they weren’t made to wait too much longer for their third goal, as Garner’s tremendous set-piece deliveries caused even more chaos than QPR could have envisaged.
The midfielder placed the ball down on the turf 10 yards from the corner flag, setting himself before finding the far corner with a tremendous solo effort. 3-0 to the Reds on 70 minutes, with Hughton’s men running riot.
Garner was running the show for the hosts at this point, leaving Johansen in his wake as the Fulham loanee received a deserved booking for a terrible challenge from behind.
QPR did see plenty of the ball in the dying embers of the contest, with Lyndon Dykes reducing the deficit and heading in a late consolation for the visitors.
But the damage had already been done as Forest ran out comfortable winners. A good few days’ work for the Reds, who may not be mathematically safe from the drop, but can quietly afford to cast one eye onto next season after another big three points.