Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper praised his players for their ruthlessness in the 3-0 victory over Preston, despite admitting he had seen better performances from his side.
Lewis Grabban scored twice, firstly from the penalty spot and then with a poacher’s finish that went in off the post, either side of an emphatic strike from Jack Colback as the hosts romped to a comfortable win at the City Ground.
Although he was pleased with the victory that extended his positive start to life as Forest head coach, Cooper felt there was also room for improvement.
“It was a good win, it was great to score three goals and keep a clean sheet,” said Cooper. “I like the fact that we were ruthless in the key moments when we got into scoring positions.
“I actually think that, in terms of general play, we have played better in other games which we have not won. We played better against Fulham I thought, which sounds daft when you consider we lost that game 4-0.
“But I like the fact that when we were not keeping the ball as well as I would have liked, we still did not look like conceding.”
Forest got the ball rolling with a 32nd-minute penalty which came after Ben Whiteman had clipped Brennan Johnson.
Cooper said of the decision: “I have seen it back and it is a clear penalty. The irony is that it was probably less of an obvious one than some of the previous penalty claims we have seen in previous games that were not given.
“But I told the players before the game that you have to make your own luck. That comes with a good attitude, with good focus and concentration. We had a game plan and we backed ourselves to go out there and play well.
“It was a very good penalty from Lewis and he was in the right place for his second. It did sneak in a little bit off the post, but he got a good contact on the ball and it went in, which is all either of us will care about.”
Preston boss Frankie McAvoy admitted his side had not been good enough at either end of the pitch, but also felt that losing Patrick Bauer to a first-half injury did not help their cause.
He said: “Losing Pat 20 minutes into the game didn’t help us. But goals change games, along with decisions.
“I have seen their penalty back and I understand why the referee has given it but it doesn’t look like there is much contact there at all.
“We didn’t defend well enough, the three goals were all poor ones to concede. We were shot shy and didn’t do enough in the final third.
“We changed it 10 minutes into the second half when we went to a back four and played with three up top. But after that we somehow managed to have even less of a threat. We had more of the ball, we had more possession in the game but we just didn’t do enough with it.
“In the first half we were sloppy with the ball and we didn’t match runners enough. We did not do enough overall. At the end of the day, it was just disappointing all round.”
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