Nottingham Forest manager Chris Hughton hailed the character of his young players after they held out for a 2-1 Carabao Cup victory over Bradford.
Hughton included seven players aged under 21 or younger in his team, with six making their debut for the Championship outfit.
Every one of them played their part, however, in helping the team take a 2-0 lead courtesy of Joao Carvalho’s first-half brace and then refusing to crumble after Bradford hit back with a Callum Cooke free kick early in the second half.
A proud Hughton said: “For the young players’ development, it was the perfect game. We were really good in the first half and got two good goals.
“They then pressed a bit higher in the second half and we gave the ball away three or four times, which gave them a lift before we conceded a poor goal. Then, you are looking at different characteristics in the young players.
“They had to stand up to the challenge and they did, which I was delighted with. It was a big test and Bradford went direct towards the end of the game, so it’s a big deal for them to come off the pitch with a win.
“Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that people are making their debuts for the club but, fortunately, they made their debuts in a good atmosphere rather than an empty stadium like it would have been last season. It was a really big night for them, irrespective of where they end up, whether it’s with us or elsewhere.”
Bradford boss Derek Adams felt his team should have had more to show for a first half in which they were the better side before Carvalho struck twice in three minutes just before the interval.
He said: “For 20 minutes, we dominated Nottingham Forest and, even though they made a lot of changes, they still had some good players out there.
“But the difference in the first half was they were more clinical than we were.”
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