A Lyle Taylor double was all that was needed for Nottingham Forest as they battled to a 2-0 victory over Wycombe Wanderers at The City Ground.
The win is just Forest's third of the 20/21 Championship season after a rough start, but this performance shows signs of progression under new boss Chris Hughton.
Wycombe could have climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time since the opening day, however, that was not to be and their eighth defeat keeps them right where they started.
Story of the game
Both sides came into the game in similar form, and it showed to start with, in what was a tightly-contested, cagey opening to the game.
Daryl Horgan fired wide for Wycombe before Lyle Taylor had the first real opening for the visitors. Miguel Guerrero played the ball over the top to the striker to run through on goal, but he couldn’t place his shot past Ryan Allsop as the Wanderers ‘keeper grasped gratefully.
Sammy Ameobi had a great chance of his own as the ball bounced kindly to him on the edge of the box from a corner, but his ferocious half-volley flew wide of the mark.
Forest had the ball in the net with barely 20 minutes on the clock as Ameobi diverted Anthony Knockaert’s cross right into the path of Taylor. The ex-Charlton Athletic man found the net but Ameobi was deemed to be offside as Knockaert played the ball in.
Wycombe looked most dangerous down the left with Horgan and Fred Onyedinma getting the most out of Cyrus Christie defensively on that side. Incidentally, it was Christie who set up the opener as he worked his way into the box and drifted a beautifully weighted cross to Taylor who had an easy job to finish it off.
Overall, it was a comfortable half for the home side with The Chairboys having a handful of half-chances which they could not capitalise on.
The opening to the second period was just as cagey as the first as both teams struggled to build attacks of any significance in the first 10 minutes of the half. Both teams looked to go more direct with their passing as Forest seemed content to defend the lead they had.
Admittedly, knowing that a pickup in results was needed, the host looked slightly nervous on the ball as Wanderers looked to press higher up the field and force mistakes out of their opponents.
For all their hard work off the ball, the first chance of the half for the visitors came a couple of minutes after the hour mark as substitute Garath McCleary had his header at the near post saved well by Brice Samba, who positioned himself well to grab the ball which was travelling quickly towards goal.
McCleary was involved again as he found fellow substitute Adebayo Akinfenwa with a floated cross to the back stick which the big forward nodded just wide of the right post.
The visitors looked to be creeping back into the game and Forest looked a little nervy at that point, although that was before Taylor raced through on goal and finished past Allsop to give his side a two-goal cushion and ensure he doubled his goal tally for the game and season as a whole.
The second half performance was nowhere near as convincing as the first for Forest, however, an inspired performance from their new man Taylor was enough to secure Hughton’s third win as Reds boss.
Wycombe combative but not stylish enough to beat Forest
On a three-game unbeaten run, Wanderers showed confidence in possession but like the quality going forward to really cause Samba any problems in goal.
The visitors tried to go direct and play the counter-attacking game, with just 40% possession but left Akinfenwa isolated when he came on a didn't have the mobility to play the way the game went in the second period.
Forest's wealth of options in attack was on show
Taylor had undoubtedly his best game for Forest since arriving in the summer, which was helped by cameos from the likes of Ameobi, Guerrero and Lolley as the hosts flexed their attacking muscles throughout the game.
The Reds' speed in transition in the second half was particularly noticeable and was the key to Hughton's side seeing out a close game.
Man of the match
Lyle Taylor - Nottingham Forest
Taylor looked dangerous from minute one as he doubled his tally for the season with two well-taken goals.
The second goal, in particular, dug his side out of a sticky situation when the result hung in the balance as the forward showed his speed, strength and tenacity to wrap the game up for his team.