It was a bad day at the office for Nottingham Forest as they failed to hit top gear in falling to a 1-0 defeat against Cardiff City.
A first-half strike from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing proved to be the difference between the two teams as Forest struggled to find their shooting boots on a frustrating and misty afternoon at The City Ground.
Sabri Lamouchi made one change from the side which defeated QPR 4-0 in midweek, with Joao Carvalho’s impressive cameo from the bench earning him a starting spot in place of Albert Adomah.
The Reds started brightly and on the front foot with Sammy Ameobi skewing wide from just inside the area and Carvalho getting on the end of a clever pass from Joe Lolley before firing over the bar.
Despite dominating the play, Forest found themselves behind on 14 minutes as Cardiff scored in their first attack of the game.
Former Forest man Lee Tomlin was involved in the move as Nathaniel Mendez-Laing curled a low effort into the bottom corner of the net past the stretching Brice Samba.
The goal seemed to stun Forest as Cardiff grew in confidence. Samba had to be alert to keep out Marlon Pack’s free kick before Tomlin also curled a set piece wide of the target but as the half wore on, Forest went back on the front foot in search of the equaliser.
They couldn’t find it and again, as they did in the first half, they started brightly without creating any real clear-cut openings, and were almost undone once again with Cardiff’s first foray forward of the half.
A cross to the back post found Gary Madine who squared the ball past the onrushing Samba and with the goal at his mercy, Junior Hoilett scuffed his effort allowing Joe Worrall to superbly clear off the line and away from danger.
The Reds were banging on the door to level the game but they couldn’t hit the target, with shots from Ben Watson, sub Alfa Semedo and Jack Robinson all leaving goalkeeper Neil Etheridge without any work to do.
A late chance fell to sub Rafa Mir but, as they had done all afternoon, the Cardiff defence threw their bodies on the line to block his effort as the Welsh side took all three points.
Forest: Samba, Cash, Figueiredo, Worrall, Robinson (Mir 80’), Watson (c), Silva, Carvalho (Semedo 66’), Lolley, Ameobi (Adomah 75’), Grabban
Unused subs: Smith, Bostock, Dawson, Chema
Cardiff: Etheridge, Peltier, Nelson, Flint, Bennett, Pack (c), Bacuna, Mendez-Laing (Paterson 80’), Hoilett (Morrison 86’), Tomlin, Madine (Ward 67’)
Unused subs: Smithies, Coxe, Vaulks, Murphy
Goal: Mendez-Laing (14’)
Booking: Madine 67’
Referee: Robert Jones
Attendance: 28,209 (1,480 away)