Resilient Nottingham Forest stretched their unbeaten home sequence to 33 league matches to move to within a point of the top two places in the Championship, having played a game fewer than both Cardiff and Norwich and two less than Swansea. Their opponents last night have not scored in their last four fixtures yet Forest, who have taken 19 of the last 21 points available to them, had to rely on a header by defender Luke Chambers early in the second half to give them the edge.
The Forest manager, Billy Davies, thought they could be excused for lacking something, however, after an energy-sapping East Midlands derby on Saturday, when they completed the double over rivals Derby County for the first time in 21 years. Beaten in last season's play-offs by Blackpool, Forest have been widely tipped for automatic promotion this year.
Davies is anxious that his team stay strong. "There is still a long way to go before we can think about promotion but we have as good a chance as last year," he said. "We have a lot of games coming up and it is now a matter of how we hold our nerve, how we handle the big matches.
"I was pleased tonight," he added. "It is tough, mentally and physically, after a derby game but we kept our discipline well. Last season we would have lost this game."
Forest's first-half dominance should have created a goal, nonetheless. They went close several times, with Lewis McGugan pulling the strings. It was the 22-year-old midfielder whose free-kick drew a fine save from goalkeeper David James in the sixth minute and another McGugan free-kick was wasted when Chris Cohen failed to make contact with his head. The visitors rarely threatened, save for an Albert Adomah header that landed on the top of the net.
The decisive goal came when City failed to defend Cohen's floated free-kick from the right and Chambers headed wide of James for his fourth goal in eight matches.
Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Camp; Gunter, Morgan, Chambers, Lynch; Tyson (McCleary, 67), Cohen, Moussi, McGugan; Earnshaw (McGoldrick, 87), Tudgay (Adebola, 78). Substitutes not used McKenna, Smith (gk), Moloney, Majewski.
Bristol City (4-4-2): James; Carey, Stewart, Caulker, Fontaine; Adomah, Elliott, Skuse, Campbell-Ryce (Jackson, 85); Clarkson (Sproule, 73), Pitman. Substitutes not used Gerken (gk), Cissé, Johnson, McAllister, Edwards.
Referee D McDermid (Hampshire).