Burnley, almost a permanent fixture in the top division until the mid 1970s, ended a 34-year exile by winning promotion to the Premier League in 2010. They lasted only one season, but on the current evidence they can look forward to another crack.
Sean Dyche’s side kept a grip on second place in the Championship while leaving a dent in Forest’s prospects of doing better than a play-off place. Billy Davies’s side now trail Burnley by eight points, with Derby now looking the biggest threat to the Lancashire side’s ambitions.
Davies bemoaned the debilitating effect of injuries on Forest’s performance – a calf problem added Andy Reid to a list of missing that already includes three defenders and two midfielders from his first-choice selection – but felt those who were fit had failed to follow his instructions as Forest suffered their first defeat in 15 League matches.
“Burnley looked like a promotion-chasing team, on the front foot, very aggressive,” Davies said. “You have to play them in a certain way and we had a game plan. Unfortunately, for the first 45 minutes [my players] didn’t listen.”
Forest conceded the opening goal on 13 minutes and were three down after 36 as Burnley overran them in midfield and exposed their deficiencies at the back.
Scott Arfield put the home side ahead, nutmegging left-back Danny Fox before sliding the ball under Karl Darlow, and Forest were all at sea again for the second goal, a free header for Sam Vokes. He then increased his tally for the season to 18 when he swept a low cross towards the Forest goal, the ball beating Darlow via a deflection.
Forest, who conceded a late equaliser to 10-man Leicester in midweek after being knocked out of the FA Cup by League One Sheffield United last weekend, improved in the second half. Defender Jamaal Lascelles had one effort cleared off the line and another pushed on to the bar by goalkeeper Tom Heaton, who saved a penalty from Djamal Abdoun and was unfortunate when Abdoun headed in the rebound. Burnley have now gone 10 matches unbeaten.
Burnley (4-4-2): Heaton; Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee; Arfield, Marney, Jones, Kightly (Treacy, 61); Vokes (Barnes, 76), Ings.
Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1): Darlow; Halford, Lascelles, Collins, Fox; Jara (Henderson, 82), Moussi (Greening, 75); Mackie, Paterson, Abdoun; Djebbour (Cox, 75).
Referee: Andy D’Urso.