Blackburn Rovers 0-2 Nottingham Forest: James Garner & Brennan Johnson send Reds into play-off spots

james garner
James Garner slots home his second goal of the season for Forest

Nottingham Forest moved into the Championship play-off places for the first time this season as they edged out stuttering Blackburn in a frantic match at Ewood Park.

A superb driving run from Keinan Davis teed up James Garner who slipped his marker and stroked a finish into the corner to put Forest ahead.

Rovers then had Darragh Lenihan sent off for a second yellow card early in the second half after a lunge on Jack Colback.

The hosts responded well, with Sam Gallagher twice going close, but Brennan Johnson’s late penalty sealed Forest’s win after Jan Paul van Hecke pulled down Sam Surridge.

Forest ensured there was no anti-climax after their FA Cup heroics against Premier League side Leicester as they chiselled out a seventh league win in 10 matches to move into sixth place – having sat second-bottom when Steve Cooper took over in September.

Rovers wasted a golden early chance when Joe Rothwell’s quick free-kick caught Forest’s defense dozing, but Brice Samba got an outstretched boot to John Buckley’s weak shot, and Scott McKenna made a goal-line block from Ben Brereton Diaz’s follow-up.

The visitors marginally carried the greater threat in a pulsating end-to-end match, with Rovers keeper Thomas Kaminski parrying Max Lowe’s powerful first-half snapshot after another driving run from Davis.

Rovers carved out plenty of chances, but failed to score for a third straight match as Brereton Diaz’s goal drought extended to six matches, Blackburn’s top scorer heading a good opening straight at Samba before being booked for dissent as his frustration grew.

The hosts pinned Forest back for a spell after Lenihan’s dismissal and almost leveled when substitute Gallagher’s goalbound strike drew a terrific block from McKenna, but the visitors wasted a string of chances to kill the game off on the break before Johnson’s ninth goal of the season.

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Blackburn have now picked up just four points and one win from their past five matches and drop out of the automatic places into third after Bournemouth’s win over Birmingham.

Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray told BBC Radio Lancashire:

“I think we were in the ascendancy for most of the game but found a way to lose it 2-0.

“It’s not the first time, like Swansea this week, we missed some amazing chances to go 1-0 up and didn’t take them and tonight we had a one-on-one with the keeper which he (Buckley) maybe should have just slotted in the corner, but it didn’t go for us.

“We have to get on with it and accept it. It’s character building for this team and any team that’s going to do well has to suffer a little bit and we’re suffering a little bit at the moment.

“But we’ll stick together and come out the other end and I’m sure good results are just around the corner.”

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper told BBC Radio Nottingham:

“Brilliant win, brilliant performance and we were very good for it I thought.

“Both teams were at it first half, it was great Keinan did what he did and Jimmy with his composure for the first goal, and I thought we game-managed okay.

“Second half we could and should have run away with it really. If we showed the quality and decision-making and technique that we did for the goal in the first half then we could have scored three or four.

“I threw it on the boys yesterday that Forest hadn’t beaten a side in the top three for two years and we have to start getting over those hurdles and we did today so I’m really pleased.”

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Formation 4-4-1-1

  • oneKaminski
  • 26LenihanBooked at 53mins
  • 25van Hecke
  • 16Wharton
  • 28Giles
  • 42ZeefuikSubstituted forhedgesat 83′minutes
  • 27Travis
  • 8RothwellBooked at 50mins
  • 7KhadraSubstituted forDolanat 58′minutes
  • twenty-oneBuckleyBooked at 18minsSubstituted forGallagherat 54′minutes
  • 22Brereton DiazBooked at 59mins


  • twoNyambe
  • 4Johnson
  • 5Ayala
  • 9Gallagher
  • 10Dolan
  • 13Pear’s
  • 19hedges

Nottm Forest

Formation 3-5-2

  • 30Samba
  • 4Worrall
  • 27S Cook
  • 26mckenna
  • twoSpence
  • 22yachts
  • 8colbackBooked at 31mins
  • 37garnerBooked at 69mins
  • fifteenLowe
  • twentyJohnsonSubstituted forCosta Silvaat 90+3′minutes
  • 9DavisSubstituted forSurridgeat 69′minutesBooked at 87mins


  • oneHorvath
  • 3Figueiredo
  • elevenzinckernagel
  • 14Laryea
  • 16Surridge
  • 18Ribeiro Days
  • 19Costa Silva

Josh Smith



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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