A feisty East Midlands derby ended in defeat for the Reds at the City Ground on Sunday afternoon as Derby County clinched all three points with the only goal of the game, sealing the bragging rights against a Forest side that finished the match with 10-men.
The Reds began the game energetically and looked in control for much of the first period, but Sean O’Driscoll’s side failed to turn any of their possession into goals.
And immediately after the restart Dexter Blackstock was given a straight red card after being adjudged to have caught Richard Keogh with an elbow following a challenge for a high ball.
Moments later the Rams struck through midfielder Craig Bryson with a goal that proved to be the decider as Derby utilised their numerical advantage and Forest failed to find a way back into the game.
Forest were denied a penalty in the opening stages of the game as an early attack saw a Simon Cox cross bounce against the hand of Keogh – however referee Robert Madley quickly waved away the appeals.
And Reds midfielder Chris Cohen, who was back for his first competitive start at the City Ground since the corresponding fixture last season, tested Rams keeper Frank Fielding with a shot from range - however the England Under-21 keeper gathered well.
Forest continued to dominate a competitive first-period but found it difficult to really put the away keeper to the test. Defender Greg Halford was close to doing so when the former Portsmouth man launched a trademark long-throw into the box that nearly caught the keeper off guard.
On the stroke of half-time Cox had the closest effort of the game when the striker found space to turn and strike a fierce shot from distance that fizzed just inches away from the top-left corner of Fielding’s goal.
The second half was only 20 seconds old when the referee blew his whistle to brandish a straight red card to Reds frontman Blackstock. The forward had jumped into an aerial challenge with Derby defender Keogh and a flailing arm appeared to catch the Rams centre-half in the face.
And things went from bad to worse for the Reds soon after when the Rams scored with their first effort on goal after a great move down the right. Midfielder Paul Coutts delivered a low ball into the Forest six-yard box which had Camp beaten leaving Bryson to tap home, right in front of the 4,389 travelling supporters.
The home side now had a mountain to climb and Forest boss O’Driscoll introduced recent signings Billy Sharp and Henri Lansbury in an attempt to find a route back into the game.
However, it was the away side that were buoyed by their goal and began causing the Reds more problems on the attack. Bryson could have had a second soon after, but for the work of Forest shot-stopper Lee Camp who pulled off a good save to deny the Scotsman.
And in the dying seconds it was Camp’s opposite number that had to be on top form to prevent a Forest equaliser as summer signing Simon Gillett caught a loose ball with a rasping shot that Fielding was forced to save at full stretch.
The intense affair ended with Derby once again lifting the Brian Clough Trophy and gaining a second consecutive win in two seasons at the City Ground.
The Reds now drop to 17th position in the Championship table, while rivals Derby sit in 12th. They will face another stern test in their next game when Forest take on managerless Blackburn at the City Ground on Wednesday 3rd October. Kick-off is at 7:45pm.
Nottingham Forest: Camp, Halford (Moloney, 78), Ayala, Collins(c), Harding, Gillett, Cohen, McGugan (Lansbury, 75), Reid (Sharp, 75), Blackstock (Sent off, 46), Cox
Derby County: Fielding, Brayford, Roberts (O’Connor, 79), Bryson, Buxton, Keogh (c), Coutts, Hendrick, Hughes, Sammon (Robinson, 82), Ward (Jacobs, 66)
Referee: Robert Madley
Man of the match (Forest): Chris Cohen
Attendance: 28,707 (Away: 4,389)