Goals from Marcus Tudgay and Lewis McGugan rewarded Steve Cotterill with a winning start as Forest's third manager in little more than four months witnessed his new side's first home win of the season and Middlesbrough surrendered their unbeaten record. But the victory was soured by the announcement from the Forest owner, Nigel Doughty, that he has put the club up for sale.
The home side had won only twice in 11 Championship games under Cotterill's predecessor, Steve McClaren. Cotterill's first match as manager coincided with a City Ground welcome to a new chairman in Frank Clark, both positions having become vacant on the same dramatic evening two weeks or so ago when the resignation of McClaren from the former was followed swiftly by disillusioned club owner Doughty's decision to step down as chairman.
Now Doughty plans to sell the club – announcing it in the match programme when he revealed he had appointed investment bank Seymour Pierce to advise him over possible offers – prompting Cotterill to declare that he was out to change his mind.
"I worked under three owners in 16 months at Portsmouth so another is not going to bother me but Nigel is a good man and, you never know, a few more nights like this one and maybe he will fall in love with it again," Cotterill said. "It would be nice if we could do really well and give him what he has wanted as a Forest fan in his 10 years."
Given their record before last night, Cotterill was unsure what to expect of his players but the performance had more in common with the team that twice reached the play-offs under Billy Davies. Against an opponent missing two key defenders in Matthew Bates and Rhys Williams, they led after 35 minutes when McGugan's pass released Chris Gunter on the flank and the Wales international – pushed up from full-back to the right of midfield – hit a low, first-time cross that Tudgay converted.
Boro should have levelled at the start of the second half when Seb Hines missed with a close-range header before Forest doubled their lead in the 55th minute. Ishmael Miller and Radoslaw Majewski in turn had shots charged down but the visitors still could not clear their lines and McGugan capitalised, evading two challenges before shooting right-footed past Jason Steele.
Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Camp; Chambers, Morgan, Lynch, Hill; Gunter, Moussi, McGugan (Greening, 80), Majewski (Derbyshire, 84); Tudgay, Miller (Findley, 75). Substitutes not used Reid, Smith (gk).
Middlesbrough (5-2-2-1): Steele; Hoyte, McMahon, McManus, Hines, Bennett (Nimely, h-t); Bailey (Arca, 61), Thomson; Robson, Haroun (Martin, 61); Enmes. Substitutes not used McDonald, Coyne (gk).
Referee K Wright (Cambridgeshire).Reuse content