Stand-in Nottingham Forest captain Ben Watson scored his second City Ground winner in successive matches as Sabri Lamouchi’s side stretched their unbeaten SkyBet Championship run to 10 games with a 1-0 win over Brentford.
Watson, deputising as skipper with Michael Dawson sidelined for a second consecutive game with a calf injury, had not scored for three-and-a-half years prior to his strike that beat Barnsley 1-0 at home a fortnight ago.
The midfielder was again the difference against the Bees, scoring a stunning 12-yard volley in the 56th minute to lift Forest up to second in the table, level on points with new leaders West Brom.
It was a goal of exceptional quality in an energetic game that had to wait until the 16th minute for its first opportunity, with Joe Lolley’s rising 20-yard strike following a surging run from inside the centre circle comfortably taken by David Raya.
It was not until 10 minutes later that a disappointing Brentford side carved out their first chance, although a low 12-yard drive from Josh DaSilva was scooped up by Brice Samba.
Forest swiftly countered, culminating in Lewis Grabban’s pull back into the area teeing up Tiago Silva but, just as the Portuguese midfielder was about to let fly, Mathias Jensen managed to make a superbly timed challenge, with penalty shouts rightly ignored.
Silva, though, almost broke the deadlock in the 34th minute, striking a 25-yard free-kick narrowly past Raya’s right-hand post after Julian Jeanvier had brought down Yuri Ribeiro.
With the last kick of the half, Brentford responded with a dead-ball delivery of their own following Watson’s mis-timed tackle on Sergi Canos.
From 35 yards Jensen’s curler took a wicked deflection off the wall, forcing a scampering Samba to punch clear to his left after he had initially set off to his right.
The breakthrough finally arrived 11 minutes after the interval, spawned by a sensational intervention from Bees skipper Pontus Jansson as he took the ball off Grabban’s toes and away for a corner as the striker lined up an angled drive.
But from Silva’s inswinging delivery, inadvertently flicked on by Jeanvier at the near post, Joe Worrall provided a cushioned header towards Watson who then struck a thunderous volley past Raya.
The closest the visitors came to an equaliser was just after the hour when Bryan Mbuemo struck a rising drive from the edge of the area that was two yards over the bar.
Instead, it was Forest who should have added to their tally but first Silva flashed a 15-yard shot past Raya’s left-hand post, while Sammy Ameobi – who had replaced Joao Carvalho in the 64th minute – forced a fine low stop from the Brentford goalkeeper nine minutes from time.
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