Steve Cooper continued his unbeaten start to life at Nottingham Forest with a convincing 3-0 win over Birmingham at St Andrews.
Forest scored three goals away from home in back-to-back games for the first time since February 2015 as goals from Lewis Grabban, Ryan Yates and Djed Spence lifted the Reds into 17th place.
Grabban netted his fourth goal in six games with a terrific right-footed finish from the edge of the area and his second is consecutive games against the Blues before Yates headed Philip Zinckernagel’s corner into the net from a corner.
Defender Spence piled more misery onto Lee Bowyer and Birmingham, who are now five without a win, with his first goal in a year less than 10 minutes into the second half.
Despite losing three of their previous four games, Birmingham showed their intentions early on and could have taken the lead through either Jeremie Bela, Lukas Jutkiewicz or Tahith Chong. Bela saw his volley just miss the target after good work from Chong before Brice Samba’s diving save denied Jutkiewicz.
From the resulting corner, Chong’s strike across goal struck the post and there were no players in blue to tap the rebound home before Forest managed to clear the ball.
But despite the early pressure, Cooper’s side opened the scoring with their first shot on goal through captain Grabban. Jack Colback easily dispossessed Chong on the halfway line before the striker picked his spot and fired past Matija Sarkic for his sixth career goal against the Blues.
The home side’s set-pieces continued to cause problems for the Forest backline and they struck the post for a second time from Jutkiewicz’s header from a Bela free-kick.
But after Bella’s poor back-pass nearly handed Grabban his fifth goal of the season, Forest doubled their lead from a set-piece themselves. Zinckernagel’s corner was headed into the ground and into the net by Yates for his first goal since February.
Forest made it three and killed any momentum Birmingham had coming from Bowyer’s half-time talk eight minutes into the second half with Spence’s first goal for the club.
Grabban picked the ball up on the left, played Zinckernagel in the middle and the Danish winger slotted the ball behind Bela and Spence arrowed the ball past Sarkic at his front post to cause pandemonium amongst the 1,188 travelling Forest fans.
Kristian Pedersen had two chances to cut the deficit on two separate occasions. The first one saw the wing-back header into the ground and over before seeing another attempt cleared off the line by Grabban.
Bowyer threw Chuks Aneke, Riley McGree and Troy Deeney on in an attempt to score their first goal in four games, but the back five of Forest remained firm and neither substitute failed to muster any opportunity.
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