Grabban grabs two as Forest maintain Play-Off challenge
A first-half brace from Lewis Grabban gave high-flying Forest the three points at the City Ground.
The former Bournemouth striker gave his side an early lead with a close range finish and then doubled the advantage seven minutes before the break after Tendayi Darikwa had set him up.
Grabban twice went close to completing his hat-trick in the second-half, with Forest hitting the woodwork on three occasions, while a Freddie Sears effort tipped over was the closest Town came to getting back in the game.
Jack Lankester made his first start for Blues, Teddy Bishop his first start in almost a year in two of four changes Paul Lambert made to the side that went down to Bristol City in midweek.
Luke Chambers led the side out on his 300th appearance for the Club while former Town striker Daryl Murphy was on the bench for Forest.
Lankester released Kayden Jackson down the left channel in the game’s first opening, Michael Dawson making the clearance as Sears looked to strike an early blow.
Jonas Knudsen’s cross was diverted behind for a corner as Town started positively, Bishop’s delivery dealt with at the near post, then Grant Ward - in for his first game under Lambert - went down in the box but referee James Linington hardly gave it a glance.
Nine minutes in, it was Forest who made the breakthrough, Grabban first to the rebound after Bart Bialkowski could only beat out Darikwa’s strike from the edge of the box.
Lankester opened up the Forest backline with a terrific switch pass as Town looked for a response but Jackson failed to test Costel Pantilimon. Joe Lolley, who was pulling the strings with his left foot, then forced Bialkowski into a save with a curler from 20 yards.
Jackson was so close to an equaliser midway through the half, his flashing header from Ward’s cross going just wide of the far post, then the signing from Accrington seeing his shot forced out by Pantilimon as Town began to carve out opportunities.
Forest should have been two up on the half hour, a delicious cross from Darikwa was met by Gil Dias but his header hit the post from close range when a goal seemed certain.
The home side didn’t have to wait long for a second though, the ever-willing Darikwa providing the extra man down the right and from his cross, Grabban did the rest at the far post.
Bialkowski tipped over Darikwa’s left foot curler, former Blues’ loanee Jack Colback fizzing a shot over the bar as Forest finished the half looking for a third.
Aitor Karanka’s side were a coat of paint away from that third goal when Michael Hefele headed Joao Carvalho’s free-kick against the inside of the post as the second-half got underway, Blues responding with a terrific effort from Sears that Pantilimon tipped over.
Cole Skuse was in the right place to block Lolley’s strike after Grabban had got in behind the Town backline, Bishop weaving his way past three Forest players before Dawson cleared, then Adlene Guedioura thumped a shot just over.
Grabban hit the bar from 30 yards after rounding Bialkowski on the angle, Town then making a double change on the hour with Ward and Jackson replaced by Trevoh Chalobah and Jordan Roberts.
Lankester had another effort just wide as Town looked for a way back into the game, Jon Nolan joining the action in Blues’ final throw of the dice, Bishop making way.
Lolley was denied a goal of the season contender by Bialkowski’s save low down after he left five Town players in his slipstream, the injured Dawson replaced by Ben Osborn in Forest’s first change.
Grabban was denied his hat-trick by a fantastic block by Matt Pennington, substitute Karim Ansarifard pulling his shot wide from eight yards in added on time as Forest maintained their Play-Off place.
Forest: Pantilimon, Guedioura, Colback, Grabban (Ansarifard 87), Carvalho, Robinson, Dawson (Osborn 78), Lolley, Darikwa, Dias (Cash 90), Hefele. Subs not used: Steele, Murphy, Janko, Yacob. Booked: Hefele, Pantilimon.
Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers, Pennington, Knudsen, Skuse, Bishop (Nolan 71) Lankester, Ward (Chalobah 59), Sears, Jackson (Roberts 59). Subs not used: Gerken, Donacien, Rowe, Dozzell. Booked: Skuse.