Cardiff City 1-0 Nottingham Forest: Gunnarsson screamer increases relegation worries for Reds

Aron Gunnarsson increased Nottingham Forest's relegation worries as his second-half screamer gave his Cardiff City team a 1-0 win at the Cardiff City Stadium on Monday afternoon. 

It was a game of fine margins but yet again Forest came out on the wrong end of the result as they now find themselves just one point clear of the relegation zone. 

A dull first-half

Mark Warburton made three changes to his starting line-up at Cardiff following the 1-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers on Good Friday. Danny Fox, Daniel Pinillos and Mustapha Carayol replaced Matt Mills, Armand Traore and Zach Clough with Britt Assombalonga having to settle for a place on the bench again. 

Forest made a bright start to the game as they looked to get a vital win to ease their relegation worries. Ben Osborn was inches away from playing Ben Brereton in on goal after a lengthy passing spell from the away side but could not quite pull off the pass. 

However, despite good periods of Forest play, Cardiff also showed they were capable of scoring at any given moment. Peter Whittingham is out of contract in the summer and his free-kick hit the crossbar from around 25 yards out. 

Carayol was visibly eager to impress on a rare start for Forest and his long-range shot was not far off finding the back of the net as it went inches wide. 

Gunnarsson sinks Forest with screamer

Forest started the second-half in a very similar fashion to how they started the first. Jamie Ward fired a shot wide as Forest piled the pressure on the home side's defence. 

Osborn again had another fantastic opportunity to play Brereton in on goal but could not find him as Forest's lack of cutting edge in the final third became evident again in a frustrating season.

The away side continued to create opportunities as they seeked to make the breakthrough. Carayol was causing Cardiff's defence all sorts of problems and his shot was again not far off as he hit the side netting. Osborn then saw his shot deflected wide as Forest had their best spell of the game.

As has been the case throughout the entire season, Forest were then punished for not taking their chances in front of goal. Gunnarsson found himself 25 yards out before unleashing an unstoppable half-volley which found the bottom corner of the net to make it 1-0 Cardiff.

Forest had a superb opportunity to immediately get themselves back level but Fox could only divert his header agonisingly wide of the target from a Carayol corner.

Danny Fox agonises after missing a huge chance. (picture: Getty Images / Stu Forster)
Danny Fox agonises after missing a huge chance. (picture: Getty Images / Stu Forster)

Warburton decided to make a couple of quick substitutions with Assombalonga, Clough and Apostolos Vellios coming on for Ward, Brereton and Pinillos. 

Forest were knocking on the door all the way up to the final minute of the game. Vellios could only hit the crossbar from Carayol's cross when he found himself unmarked in the area. Chris Cohen and Osborn also saw their shots charged down as Forest suffered another painful defeat.

Agonising few weeks ahead

It is now going to be an unbearable couple of weeks ahead for Forest supporters as the fate of the club remains up in the air. There is increased speculation that Evangelos Marinakis is close to securing a takeover of the club which would see current owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi leave completely.

However, it is still unclear what league Forest will be in next season with League One looming large. Forest now have Reading at home, Queens Park Rangers away and then Ipswich Town at home on the final day. Forest will need to win at least one of these fixtures to ensure safety.

The resignation of Gianfranco Zola at Birmingham City will make Forest's survival bid even tougher with the 'new manager bounce' likely to be enough to keep Blues in the Championship.