‘SMART’ WARD IS KEY FOR WARBS
Jubilant manager bags his first win
MARK WARBURTON was left disappointed his side did not score more despite goals from Eric Lichaj and man-of-the-match Jamie Ward handing him his first win as Forest boss.
The hosts were winless in six before Huddersfield’s visit but they created enough chances in the first half alone to win their remaining five games.
And Warburton confirmed just how good his team were after they moved five points clear of the drop zone with a dominant win over the highflying Terriers.
He said: “It wasn’t like we scraped through, it was a very solid performance.
“The only downside was – and I say this with respect to David (Wagner) and Huddersfield – that we could have scored four or five.
“Jamie Ward worked smart. It wasn’t a headless chicken performance, he worked smart. He gave everything. The word to him at half-time was ‘keep running as long and as hard as you can and let me know’ – he let me know on about 70 minutes.
“They’ve had to deal with a lot over these last few months. Here you saw the quality. It’s just about having that confidence and belief.”
Nahki Wells prevented Forest taking an early lead as he cleared away Joe Worrall’s goalbound header.
Ben Brereton hit the sidenetting from a tight angle before Wells’ celebrations at the other end were cut short by the linesman. Zach Clough scuffed wide from Lichaj’s cross but the latter finally capitalised on the hosts’ dominance as he tapped in Brereton’s pull-back.
Elias Kachunga should have levelled from six yards for the Terriers before Clough and Worrall both went close.
Brereton crossed in for Clough at the end of the first half but the striker’s header was blocked at point-blank range by Danny Ward as Forest had to settle for one goal in a breathtaking first half where they could have scored seven.
Wells saw a couple of popshots collected by Jordan Smith early in the second period as the Terriers began to get a foothold in the game.
However, their momentum was abruptly halted as Jamie Ward latched onto a wayward Dean Whitehead header and poked into the net.
Aaron Mooy nearly halved the deficit instantly but his piledriver flew just over the crossbar.
Lichaj was put through by Chris Cohen as the hosts continued to defy their league position, but Danny Ward was on hand, again, to prevent a third goal.
Michael Hefele headed marginally wide from an Aaron Mooy cross late on before the latter saw a low drive blocked in a poor display.
But Huddersfield boss David Wagner insisted his side are not already focused on the play-offs.
“My players are humans, such performances shouldn’t happen but they do,” Wagner said.
“We are not under the provision that we can use the (remaining) six matches as training matches. The race for the play-offs is still happening.
“We were poor in the first half. We got surprised by the set-up of Nottingham and we were not able to handle it.
“Nottingham was overloading the midfield and we were not able to catch them to close the gaps. We did it better in the second half but then we gave away a very unusual mistake before the second goal.”
TWO WILL DO: Jamie Ward scores Nottingham Forest’s second goal