Nottingham Forest made it back-to-back wins in the Sky Bet Championship on Tuesday night, defeating Rotherham United by a goal to nil.
Ryan Yates’ close-range finish in the second half secured an invaluable three points for Chris Hughton’s side, on what ended up being a hugely competitive battle between both sides.
The heavy wind in South Yorkshire meant it would be a physical battle at the New York Stadium, with Rotherham making the most of their aerial presence in the early stages of the contest.
The Millers took every opportunity to get bodies into the box for every throw-in within sensible distance, with Michael Ihiekwe heading narrowly over the bar from close range on six minutes.
Michael Smith was next to come close for the hosts, capitalising on Cafu losing possession before driving towards goal and lashing a shot just wide.
Forest did grow into the game as the half went on, though, with the visitors adopting the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach. A corner on 23 minutes saw Luke Freeman pick up a loose ball before feeding Joe Worrall, whose chipped cross found the boot of Filip Krovinovic who volleyed wide at the back stick.
Rotherham’s 3-5-2 formation saw their wing-backs push up high for every attack, but this gave Anthony Knockaert and Cyrus Christie areas to exploit in behind. The latter saw his left-footed effort graze the post and hit the side netting on 27 minutes.
Forest did end up finding the net on the half-hour mark, however much to the disappointment of Glenn Murray, the striker wandered marginally offside before nodding in Gaetan Bong’s delicious cross.
Chris Hughton will have been satisfied with the way his side had began to assert their dominance on the game, however. Shortly before the half-time interval, Knockaert’s precise, clipped free-kick was put behind by a full-stretch Viktor Johansson, with the Reds ending the half well in control.
Forest continued to assert their dominance in the second half. Glenn Murray expertly flicked Knockaert’s free-kick towards goal which was denied by Johansson, but an offside flag was raised. Knockaert then forced a terrific save out of the Millers goalkeeper on 65 minutes, after cutting inside from the right.
Changes were made by either manager as both sides look to take the game by the scruff of its neck. Freddie Ladapo replacing Matt Olosunde for the hosts, Joe Lolley on for Luke Freeman for the visitors.
It was the visitors who broke the deadlock shortly after.
A cross was cleared only as far as Tobias Figueiredo who put the ball back into the danger zone, and there was Ryan Yates to sweep home from close-range. A hint of offside, much to Rotherham’s dismay, but a vital opening goal for Chris Hughton’s side.
Rotherham looked to ignite an instant respond, with Ben Wiles firing just wide from inside the area following Matt Smith’s lay-off. Ladapo almost made an instant impact upon his introduction to the contest, but fluffed his lines six yards out as a ball dropped kindly for the striker.
Hughton shuffled his pack even further, bringing on fresh legs up top in the form of Lyle Taylor, who replaced Murray. Changes made for the hosts, too, with Kieran Sadlier and Ryan Giles hoping to add more attacking influence.
As Rotherham began to push higher up the field, Forest smelled blood. Taylor had his first sniff of goal, chasing a long ball before firing ferociously into the side netting. Further changes were made by Hughton, with the manager undoubtedly looking to shore things up by replacing Knockaert and Krovinovic with James Garner and Tyler Blackett.
Five minutes were to be added on at the end of the second half, with Rotherham continuing to apply the pressure. The woodwork was to deny the Millers at the death, with Matt Crooks’ header hitting the bar from all of five yards amid a congested penalty area.
But that was to be that in South Yorkshire, with Forest holding onto a vital three points on the road.