FOREST UNDER HOLLOWAY’S SPELL AGAIN
IAN HOLLOWAY continued to weave his City Ground magic – as his Millwall braves broke a bad spell of their own.
Substitute Ricardo Fuller took full advantage of a poor back header from Forest left-back Stephen McLaughlin after 83 minutes to give the Lions real survival hope after just one point from their last 18.
It was Holloway’s fourth successive victory in Forest’s back yard as a manager with both Blackpool and Millwall – and it completed a hat trick of wins for the Lions here over the last three seasons.
“I wouldn’t mind coming here every week,” the Millwall boss joked. “I’ve got to be delighted that we’ve beaten a half-decent side who won at Derby a couple of weeks ago.
“I’ve brought in players and they are like Mllwall strangers, but they are gelling together quickly,
“We’ve kept clean sheets in our last two games and taken four points out of six – now we must take confidence from that into our next few.
“Everyone deserves a huge pat on the backs for their efforts, but Diego Fabbrini is different class. He’s not a usual Millwall player, but we’re looking to integrate him and for him to enjoy his football here.”
Forest, late starters in several recent games, nearly went ahead in the 15th minute when goalkeeper David Forde’s outstretched leg denied Michail Antonio.
But Millwall came closer when full-back Mark Beevers arrowed a header towards the bottom corner. The diving save from Dorus de Vries was truly outstanding.
Forde palmed away Stephen McLaughlin’s shot as Forest at last raised the temperature, and Henri Lansbury curled a 22-yard free kick agonisingly on to the roof of the net before the break.
Forest stepped up the pressure in the opening minutes of the second half and the woodwork twice came to Millwall’s rescue.
Robert Tesche’s dipping shot from more than 30 yards hit the bar before the lively Antonio dug out a perfect right-wing cross for Britt Assombalonga to also hit the bar with a close-range header.
But Millwall rode their luck and came back into the game, with Holloway’s substitutions notably contributing far more than Stuart Pearce’s.
Forest thought they’d won a penalty when Shaun Williams stuck out a leg to fell Antonio – but Forest boss Pearce confirmed afterwards that replays showed it was correctly awarded outside.
Lee Gregory was denied by a Forest of scrambling legs after a superb run into the box, before Fuller beat de Vries to McLaughlin’s misplaced header and placed his shot into the empty Trent End goal.
The remaining minutes, including four of added time, were played almost exclusively in the Forest half as the home side failed to mount a late rally.
Defeat was clearly a tough one to take for under-pressure Pearce, who admitted he is now looking over his shoulder at the relegation trap door.
“I think we have to now,” he said. “We have contrived to give Millwall a foot up the table with three points here and we must hope that won’t prove too costly at the end.
“But avoiding the drop does not meet the aspirations of this football club.
“There was a side out there who were there to be beaten but, although we had our chances, we didn’t have the gumption to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
“We needed to somehow get ourselves in front, but it didn’t happen. Then, we’ve lost to a silly mistake.
“I thought Stephen McLaughlin played well and he’ll certainly contribute more to us in the future.”
WINNER: Millwall's Ricardo Fuller scores the only goal of the game past Nottingham Forest's Dorus De Vries. Inset: Todd Kane and Magaye Gueye battle for the ball