On-loan pair Andraz Sporar and Onel Hernandez secured a 2-0 win for Middlesbrough at Nottingham Forest to heap more pressure on under-fire home boss Chris Hughton.
Forest have now taken just one point from their opening seven matches in the Sky Bet Championship and a run of 13 league games without a success under Hughton represents the club’s worst run since February 2004.
The writing looked on the wall as soon as Slovenian international Sporar, recruited from Sporting Lisbon, opened the scoring in the first half, with Forest having only scored more than one goal once in their last 25 league contests.
But Hernandez, drafted in from Norwich, made victory absolutely certain for Neil Warnock’s men, when he capitalised on a mistake between home defender Loic Mbe Soh and goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.
Misunderstandings had been evident in Forest’s play right from the start when Ryan Yates and James Garner gifted possession in the middle of the pitch to James Lea Siliki, who drove forward before firing over as he approached the penalty area with less than three minutes on the clock.
At the other end, a positive charge by left-back Max Lowe teed up a 20-yard opportunity for Garner that Boro keeper Joe Lumley could only push out to Lewis Grabban and the Forest captain then cleared an unguarded net before he was flagged offside.
Hopeful long-range attempts from Brennan Johnson and Garner, meanwhile, failed to extend Lumley before the visitors forged in front midway through the half.
Sporar left Forest centre-back Joe Worrall trailing in his wake as he sprinted on to Marcus Tavernier’s ball through the right channel and he then smashed a rising 12-yard shot past the helplessly exposed Horvath after 24 minutes.
In response, another Garner effort from distance was deflected off target by Lea Siliki, while Matt Crooks’ near-post header from Tavernier’s inswinging corner cleared the crossbar for the away team.
The hosts might still have gone into the interval on level terms when Johnson’s cross from the right was headed down by Lyle Taylor in added-on time, but Worrall’s scuffed seven-yard strike at goal was deflected over.
After the break, Crooks and Hernandez called Horvath into early action, before a Johnson cross skimmed the top of the visitors’ net and Grabban tried his luck with a 25-yard drive that was always drifting away from goal.
Just past the hour, Lea Siliki’s edge-of-the-box effort was safely gathered by Horvath and Tavernier curled a free kick wide of the American international’s near post.
But the ex-Club Brugge shot-stopper blundered for Boro’s second goal in the 72nd minute when he took a heavy touch trying to control Mbe Soh’s needlessly firmly-struck back pass and gifted an open goal to Hernandez, who gleefully found the net.
To the dismay of Forest’s supporters, Grant Hall might have added a third before the final whistle when his improvised overhead kick was cleared off the line by Worrall.
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