There proved to be nothing good about Nottingham Forest’s Friday as they slipped to their fourth successive defeat, going down 2-0 at promotion-chasing Sheffield United.
Nothing had separated the two sides in the first half but a crucial few minutes early in the second period swung the game in the favour of the Blades as Forest defender Yohan Benalouane was shown a straight red card before Mark Duffy fired the home side ahead. Enda Stevens then wrapped up the win in the 85th minute.
The opening fifteen minutes of the game were cagey with both sides being restricted to shots from distance, Blades captain Ollie Norwood firing wide of the Forest goal before Claudio Yacob skewed a powerful effort off target at the other end.
In the 18th minute, Forest momentarily thought they had a penalty as Jack Colback went down in the area under pressure from George Baldock. The Forest captain was instead booked for simulation, earning him a 15th booking of the season and an untimely three-match ban.
On the half hour mark, Sheffield United wing back Enda Stevens delivered a terrific ball to the back post and David McGoldrick’s header dropped just wide of the Forest goal.
Forest were finding themselves penned inside their own half, but they almost took the lead against the run of play when Claudio Yacob broke from midfield and fed Daryl Murphy, however the burly Irishman dragged his shot just wide of the upright.
Two minutes after the interval, Forest were reduced to ten men. The home side broke on the Reds backline and with McGoldrick looking to skip through on goal, Yohan Benalouane brought down the Blades centre forward and was shown a straight red card by referee Andrew Madley.
Minutes later, the home side exploited their man advantage as they went ahead. The ball fell kindly to Mark Duffy just inside the area and he took his time, picked his spot and curled a terrific finish into the top corner.
Things could have gotten even worse for Martin O’Neill’s side as Costel Pantilimon was then forced into a superb point-blank save to deny McGoldrick.
After conceding a late equaliser away at Millwall last time out, Sheffield United were worried that history may repeat itself. The hearts of the home fans would have been in their mouths when Forest were awarded a dangerous-looking free kick in the 78th minute but Matty Cash wasted the opportunity, smashing a more than optimistic effort way off target.
However, in the 85th minute, Sheffield United scored once again to seal the three points. Enda Stevens put the finishing touch to a sharp Blades breakaway as he fired across goal and past Pantilimon from just outside the six-yard box.
SHEFFIELD UTD XI: Henderson (GK); Baldock, Stevens, Fleck, O’Connell, Madine (Hogan 66’), Norwood ©, McGoldrick, Stearman, Duffy (Dowell 86’), Cranie (Lundstram 78’)
SUBS NOT USED: Moore (GK), Coutts, Freeman, Washington
FOREST XI (4-1-4-1): Pantilimon (GK); Byram, Wague, Benalouane, Colback ©; Yacob (Appiah 75’); Lolley, Yates, Pele (Milosevic 50’), Cash; Murphy (Grabban 59’)
SUBS NOT USED: Steele (GK), Watson, Osborn, Ansarifard
REFEREE: Andrew Madley
ATTENDANCE: 28,403 (2,217 Away)