REPORT: FOREST 1 ALBION 2
- Lewis Dunk and Steve Sidwell on target for Albion
- Substitute Dexter Blackstock equalised in the second half
- Albion are one point adrift of Middlesbrough in second
- The Seagulls extend their unbeaten run to nine games
Brighton & Hove Albion maintained their challenge for automatic promotion with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
Lewis Dunk’s first-half header was cancelled out by Dexter Blackstock’s similar effort after the break, but substitute Steve Sidwell’s late winner secured all three points.
The result leaves Albion one point behind second-placed Middlesbrough, having played a game more than the Teessiders.
Chris Hughton made one change to the side that beat Birmingham City last Tuesday, as Jamie Murphy replaced Sidwell.
Albion had their first clear chance of the game when Kazenga LuaLua played in Tomer Hemed, but the striker skewed his shot wide of the angle.
The Israeli was involved in the thick of the action again when he took a beautiful touch in an attempt to get past Matt Mills, but the Forest centre-back made a cynical challenge to halt him in his tracks.
Henri Lansbury drove forward into space and was inches away from handing Forest the lead, only to be denied by a terrific fingertip save by David Stockdale.
The deadlock was broken in the 27th minute when a perfectly-weighted free-kick from Jiri Skalak was headed home by Dunk, via the aid of a deflection, for his second goal in as many games.
The hosts had a shout for a penalty after Jamie Ward fell under the slightest of touches from Stockdale in the area, but the referee waved play on.
The hosts were dealt a blow shortly before the interval, as Ward was forced off injured in an attempt to dispossess Dunk and was replaced by Blackstock.
There was a moment of controversy in first-half stoppage time when Connor Goldson went down under the challenge of Lansbury; Forest, however, continued the play and Chris Cohen fired over from close range.
The hosts levelled shortly after the break when Lansbury’s set-piece was met by a towering header from Blackstock, which beat the outstretched Stockdale.
Some good work from Beram Kayal and Bruno set up a chance for Hemed in the box but his acrobatic effort forced a good save from Dorus de Vries.
Forest then had a golden opportunity to take the lead after Blackstock took advantage of a defensive error and played in Lansbury, but the skipper fired over the bar with only Stockdale to beat.
Substitute James Wilson looked to test de Vries with a swerving effort, but his shot went narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
Anthony Knockaert was another player who looked to make an impact from the bench when his strike was tipped behind, and Hemed rose highest in the box from the subsequent corner, only to head the ball agonisingly wide.
Robert Tesche came on to replace Gary Gardner for the hosts and screwed a good chance wide from outside the box.
But Hughton’s men stole all three points at the death when some superb persistence from Knockaert set up a chance for Sidwell, who fired the ball past de Vries.
There was still time for one more nervy moment for Albion as Cohen fired wide from the edge of the box, but the final whistle was greeted with jubilation from the players and the traveling fans.