Nottingham Forest surged to the top of the SkyBet Championship on the back of a 3-2 win at Stoke that increased the pressure on under-fire boss Nathan Jones.
It is now 15 league games without a victory for the beleaguered Potters, who for the fourth time this season threw away points from a winning position – losing three of those matches and drawing the other – after Lee Gregory had fired City ahead in the 10th minute.
Jack Butland’s latest error, his sixth of the season that have all led to goals and with Joe Lolley the latest grateful recipient, gave Forest their way back into the game just before half-time.
Second-half strikes from Sammy Ameobi and Lewis Grabban made sure, with James McClean’s 84th-minute header too little too late.
Yet for most of the first half, and the opening 10 minutes especially, Stoke were anything but a side on such a wretched run of form, with Gregory’s effort just reward for their all-action performance.
Stoke and Gregory had served notice after just 90 seconds of what was to come when the striker latched onto an incisive through-ball from Tom Ince that allowed him to sidestep advancing goalkeeper Brice Samba, only to see his angled effort cleared off the line by Forest captain Michael Dawson.
Samba then made relatively comfortable saves in the following minutes from Nick Powell, the free transfer capture from Wigan in the summer returning after an eight-week absence with a calf injury, and Peter Etebo who had struck a superb 35-yard free-kick.
But a corner following Samba’s tip over from Etebo’s curler was cleared only as far as Ince, whose drive was twice deflected into the path of Gregory to half-volley home his first goal since a summer move from Millwall.
City’s hustling of Forest continued to cause problems, but the visitors weathered a storm in which Lolley and Dawson were booked – with the latter later departing to injury in the 34th minute and Ben Watson taking over as skipper.
Two minutes later Forest were level with their first shot on target, courtesy of Butland’s mistake in dropping Matty Cash’s cross while under pressure from Grabban. Lolley sidefooted home his third goal of the season from 10 yards.
Just under two minutes into the second half Forest completed their turnaround, with Ameobi running onto another Cash cross to plant a towering header past Butland, who was helpless to prevent the midfielder’s first goal since a summer switch from Bolton.
Forest then wrapped up the victory in the 61st minute as Grabban latched onto a scuffed effort from Tiago Silva, on for Joao Carvalho a minute earlier, to swipe home his fifth of the season from six yards.
Although McClean glanced Tom Edwards’ inswinging 84th-minute free-kick over Samba from six yards to offer Stoke a glimmer of hope, time ultimately ran out on a comeback of their own and potentially Jones’ bid to remain in a job.
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