Nottingham Forest 4-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • February 21, 2015 | By Chris Mann
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Dougie Freedman gained a huge measure of revenge on Bolton, after his Nottingham Forest side thrashed his former club 4-1 at the City Ground.

Freedman, sacked by Wanderers last October, watched on as his new club ran riot on an afternoon where anything that could go wrong certainly did for his opposite number, Neil Lennon.

Chris Burke and Michail Antonio both scored inside the opening 17 minutes as Forest quickly took control of the game, but the visitors were given a lifeline in first-half stoppage time when Adam Le Fondre fired home from the penalty spot - after Tim Ream had been stretchered off following a collision with the goalpost.

Any hopes of producing a second-half comeback were dashed within 90 seconds of the restart, however, when Matt Mills was shown a second yellow card, before Andy Lonergan was also stretchered off after receiving a blow to the head in conceding a penalty - which was converted by Henri Lansbury.

Burke scored his second and Forest's fourth midway through the second period, as Freedman picked up a third win in four games in charge of his new club and helping push his former club down to 18th in the Championship table.

Wanderers boss Neil Lennon made two changes to the team that started last weekend's defeat to Watford, as Matt Mills and Filip Twardzik took the places of David Wheater and Saidy Janko.

Bolton had fallen into the habit of conceding early goals in recent weeks, so it came as no surprise to see Forest have the better of the early play. The first chance arrived with just two minutes on the clock, but Lansbury's free-kick from the edge of the box was straight at Lonergan in the visiting goal.

Wanderers' responded brightly and came close to breaking the deadlock with five minutes played, as Liam Feeney's wayward shot fell kindly at the feet of Barry Bannan. The on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder took aim at goal, with his shot narrowly clearing the crossbar.

Lansbury fired over at the other end, before Forest took the lead through Burke. A well-known transfer target for Bolton last summer, the former Birmingham City midfielder saw his initial shot well saved by Lonergan but he responded well to fire the rebound into the empty net.

Burke was denied a second moments later when his goalbound strike was blocked by Twardzik, shortly before the Wanderers full-back had a shot charged down at the other end after Mills had beaten Karl Darlow in the air.

After seemingly working themselves back into the game, Bolton were dealt a major blow with 17 minutes on the clock as lacklustre defending allowed Antonio a free run on goal. After working his way into the box, and with only Lonergan left to beat, he made no mistake in slamming home and doubling Forest's advantage.

Josh Vela came agonisingly close to reducing the deficit three minutes later, as his curling strike just flashed past Darlow's far post, before Dorian Dervite prodded the ball wide after a knockdown from Mills.

Forest were denied a third and potentially match-winning goal when Lonergan pulled off a stunning save to keep out a diving header from Lansbury, before play was halted for several minutes after Ream appeared to collide with a post when defending a corner.

Ream received treatment in the Wanderers goal, before leaving the field on a stretcher. He was replaced by Dean Moxey, in a move which saw him fill in at left-back. Twardzik was pushed into midfield, with Feeney dropping to right-back.

Once play had continued, Dervite threw his body in the way of another goalbound shot from Lansbury to keep the score at 2-0, before frustration appeared to get the better of Mills as he went in the referee's book for a poor challenge on Antonio.

Six minutes of stoppage time was added at the end of the half, largely as a result of the injury to Ream, and it provided Bolton with a route back into the game after Zach Clough was brought down inside the Forest box.

Le Fondre took responsibility for the penalty kick and made no mistake in finding the back of the net, sending Darlow the wrong way, to ensure the game was finely poised at 2-1 going into the half-time interval.

In response to his team's dismal first-half showing, Lennon introduced Emile Heskey as the teams emerged back on to the pitch. The former Liverpool forward took the place of Twardzik, but he was forced into playing in central defence just three minutes later after Mills was shown a second yellow card for hauling down Antonio.

Bolton were seeing plenty of possession at this stage but lacked any sort of creative spark in the final third, which soon became a major downfall after a mistake at the other end provided Forest with a third goal that sealed the points for the home side.

Dexter Blackstock pounced on a poor back-header from Moxey and went to ground after a challenge from Lonergan. Referee Carl Boyeson had no option but to point to the spot, although it took six minutes for the penalty to be taken as Lonergan was stretchered off after seeming to take a blow to the head from Blackstock's shoulder.

Ben Amos replaced Lonergan as Bolton made their final substitution of the match and his first action was to pick the ball out of the net, as Lansbury found the top corner from 12 yards.

Three minutes later, Burke made it four as he worked himself into a yard of space on the edge of the box before firing past Amos - moments before he left the field to a standing ovation, with Jamie Paterson taking his place.

With two players stretchered off and one already taking an early shower because of a red card, Le Fondre was fortunate to escape with a booking after jumping into a tackle with both feet off the ground with 20 minutes to go.

After netting from the spot, Lansbury was denied a goal from open play by a good low stop from Amos, while Bannan and Moxey both came close to scoring consolations for Bolton at the other end.

Ten minutes of stoppage time was added at the end of the regulation 90, which could only bring half chances for Heskey and Lansbury at either end of the field, as Forest comfortably saw time out to consign Wanderers to a defeat that means they have conceded four goals in three successive away games for the first time since September 1990.

Worryingly for Lennon, Bolton return to action on Tuesday evening when they face a difficult trip to automatic promotion contenders Middlesbrough.

Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Lichaj, Collins, Lascelles, Fox, Gardner, Burke (Paterson 72), Lansbury, Osborn, Antonio (Fryatt 87), Blackstock (Veldwijk 76)
Subs Not Used: Mancienne, Wilson, Vaughan, de Vries
Goals: Burke 8,68, Antonio 17, Lansbury 65(pen)

Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan (Amos 65), Dervite, Mills, Ream (Moxey 34), Vela, Feeney, Danns, Bannan, Twardzik (Heskey 46), Clough, Le Fondre
Subs Not Used: Gudjohnsen, Wheater, Slavchev, Janko
Booked: Mills, Le Fondre, Dervite
Sent Off: Mills
Goals: Le Fondre 45+5(pen)

Referee: Carl Boyeson
Attendance: 22,441

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Pos Team Pld Pts
17 Tranmere Rovers 1 1
18 Cheltenham Town 1 0
19 Bolton Wanderers 1 0
20 Grimsby Town 1 0
21 Oldham Athletic 1 0
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