PHOTOS: Nottingham Forest 0, Burnley 2
TWO goals from leading scorer Jay Rodriguez accentuated the Clarets play-off ambitions against relegation threatened Forest.
And it was the perfect start as Eddie Howe’s side took the lead inside the opening three minutes; Kieran Trippier’s cross looped beyond Lee Camp before Rodriguez thumped in a header at the back post.
That breakthrough prompted an up-tempo 10 minute period with both sides vying for the next goal. A last ditch David Edgar challenge prevented Ishmael Miller from levelling proceedings after Ben Mee gifted Lewis McGugan possession and Lee Grant had to be alert as he back-peddled to tip Paul Anderson’s speculative effort wide.
Loan man Josh McQuoid could and should have doubled the advantage as he raced clear only to scuff an effort across goal. However, the remainder of the half took on a more pedestrian format with both sides proving too uneconomical on the ball.
Guy Moussi would have hoped to have done better from McGugan’s floated corner when free at the back post but his header was far from clinical.
Then, just before the half hour mark Howe was forced in to a change with Ross Wallace replace the injured Keith Treacy; McQuoid moved over to the left on his arrival.
Full-back Chris Gunter, wide man Garath McLeary and McGugan often worked the ball well in neat triangular passages but Forest’s profligacy is such that they haven’t scored at the City Ground since November. And as the half peetered out Wolves loanee Adlene Guedioura fired in to the arms of Grant.
In the second half the Clarets seemed much more potentmainly down to the positivity and determination of Wallace’s and Jay Rod’s forward bursts.
The former’s inswinging set-piece just need the slightest of touches at the near post, though it eluded the head of Rodriguez. Wallace went close again with a left-footed set-piece that whistled past Camp’s near post before Charlie Austin was wasteful after driving in to the area; his cross-come-shot flashed past Jay Rod at the far post.
The Clarets were comfortable and more composed helped by an unconvincing Forerst outfit. And it looked like being game over once McLeary dragged down Ben Mee inside the area, but Rodriguez lost his footing and the chance from the spot went begging.
But it took just seven minutes for the 22-year-old to make amends as he powered a header in to the roof of the net from Trippier’s lofted cross, leaving Camp with no chance.
Forest pressed for that elusive goal, but once David Edgar thwarted sub Marcus Tudgay from close range, substitute Andy Reid lifted a free-kick wide of the post and Anderson flashed an effort past the angle it never looked like coming.
Clarets substitute Marvin Bartley dragged an effort wide of the near post in the final moments as the Clarets saw the game out with ease to win 2-0. It was a sixth clean sheet in seven for the Clarets and an eighth victory in 11 as they marched towards the top six.