Nottingham Forest’s wait for their first back-to-back victories since September goes on as the Reds suffered a blow in the race for the play-off places after a 3-1 defeat to fellow hopefuls Aston Villa.
After a 5-5 draw in the previous fixture, goals were expected once again and the first arrived in the third minute, going the way of the hosts. Jack Colback’s cross from the left flank fortuitously went over ‘keeper Jed Steer, finding the back of the net.
Five minutes later and Villa were level as the game continued at a frenetic pace. John McGinn found room on the right of the Forest area and he emphatically drilled the ball under Costel Pantilimon.
There could have been another goal in the 11th minute but thankfully for Forest, Tammy Abraham spurned a good headed opportunity from a Villa corner.
In the 15th minute, Villa went ahead and it was McGinn once again. The Scottish international had time 20 yards out and his low strike skimmed in off the upright to leave Forest shell-shocked.
After a shaky period, Forest began to find a footing in the game once more and they almost got a leveller in the 24th minute. A free-kick from the left ended up at the feet of Pele just outside the six-yard box but the powerful midfielder lashed a shot just off target.
Villa were looking for a third and it took a big save from Pantilimon to deny them in the 30th minute, Tammy Abraham spinning in the area and unleashing a shot across goal which the big Romanian got down to well.
Forest started the second period well and they found the back of the net in the 47th minute through Yohan Benaloaune but the Forest centre half was denied by referee Mike Dean who spotted a foul in the build-up.
In the 58th minute, McGinn almost completed an unlikely hat-trick but he failed to direct his header on goal after getting in between two Forest defenders to meet a cross.
Joe Lolley was looking to hurt the team he supports, and he tried his luck with a powerful half-volley from distance, but it lacked the direction required.
Just after the hour, Villa made it 3-1 to take control of proceedings. An inviting free-kick into the area made its way to Kortney Hause at the back post and he bundled the ball home from close range.
Forest were trying their hardest to find a route back into the game, but they faced a stubborn Villa backline who were continuing to stand firm.
In the end, it was Villa who had the better of the late chances with Jonathan Kodjia dinking an effort just wide of the far post before McGinn burst into the area and struck the post.
FOREST XI: Pantilimon (GK); Darikwa, Milosevic, Benalouane, Osborn; Pele (Guedioura 72’), Yates (Goncalves 76’), Colback ©, Lolley; Carvalho, Ansarifard (Murphy 62’)
SUBS NOT USED: Steele (GK), Watson, Wague, Bonatini
ASTON VILLA XI: Steer (GK); Taylor, McGinn, Grealish (Whelan 87’), Hourihane, Abraham (Kodjia 72’), Green, El Ghazi (Adomah 64’), Elmohamady, Hause, Mings
SUBS NOT USED: Kalinic (GK), Carroll, Jedinak, Bjarnason
REFEREE: Mike Dean
ATTENDANCE: 29,224 (2,002 away)
FOREST MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Jack Colback