Lewis Grabban maintained his searing hot form as Nottingham Forest continued their promotion push with a 2-0 win over strugglers Ipswich.
The £6million striker scored both goals to take his tally to five in three games – and 15 for the campaign – as Aitor Karanka’s side retained their place in the Championship top six with a win that was more comfortable than the score suggested.
Paul Lambert’s side showed only flashes of menace, with Bartosz Bialkowski by far the busier of the two keepers, as he made amends for a costly early mistake, by making a string of important saves.
But it rarely looked like being enough to prevent Ipswich from suffering a sixth defeat in eight games, as they find themselves rooted to the foot of the table.
Forest made the breakthrough in the ninth minute, following a moment Bialkowski will want to forget.
Tendayi Darikwa had a powerful shot from the edge of the box but, while it was well struck, the keeper will have been frustrated not to hold the ball, which spun from his grasp – and the instinctive Grabban was quick to react, forcing the ball into the back of the net from a few yards.
A mistake from Jack Colback almost allowed Kayden Jackson to plunder an unlikely equaliser, as he was allowed to power into the box, but he let Forest off the hook by lashing his shot wildly wide.
Joe Lolley, another man in fine form for the Reds, tested Bialkowski with a curling, dipping shot that the keeper this time held well.
Jackson continued to deliver numerous warnings to Forest, with the Ipswich striker sending a header inches wide of the post and then forcing an awkward save from Costel Pantilimon with a low, driven effort.
Forest were inches away from extending their lead as Darikwa delivered a cross to the far post, where Dias was arriving to attack a header – only to see it bounce away off the inside of the opposite upright.
The home side did make it 2-0 in the 38th minute, when Darikwa delivered another outstanding ball into the centre. Grabban was in the perfect position at the far post, where he still had work to do, to squeeze home a shot from the tightest of angles.
Forest could have gone into the break out of sight, with Darikwa denied by a fine save as his shot threatened to dip in, while Colback sent a shot just over.
The second half continued in a similar theme, as Michael Hefele saw a header bounce away off the post. While Grabban, in search of his hat-trick, hit the bar after beating Bialkowski to a bouncing ball on the edge of the box.
Bialkowski denied Lolley with a fine save, just as his shot seemed bound for the bottom corner.
While a vital block from Matthew Pennington again denied Grabban his hat-trick.
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P