Lyle Taylor ended his longest goal drought since October 2017 to fire Nottingham Forest into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win against Cardiff.
The former Charlton striker – one of eight changes made by home boss Chris Hughton following last weekend’s win at Preston – took less than three minutes to claim the only goal of the game and his first in 13 outings.
Away boss Neil Harris could only watch from the stands due to a touchline ban as his side showing four changes suffered a fourth straight defeat.
Taylor ended his barren spell in emphatic fashion.
Overlapping full-back Gaetan Bong was given the freedom of the left flank after being picked out by Sammy Ameobi and his cross was met by a firm sidefooted volley from Taylor that found the roof of the net from 10 yards.
Cardiff, who had secured victories on their previous six visits to the City Ground, responded with spirit and controlled most of the remainder of the first half without testing home goalkeeper Jordan Smith.
A poorly-executed, edge-of-the-box half-volley by Will Vaulks could only find the empty Trent End stand and Leandro Bacuna also curled over from 20 yards.
From similar distances, meanwhile, Robert Glatzel was well off target and Joe Ralls dragged a shot wide following a spell of concerted away pressure.
Harry Wilson, having spotted Smith off his line, then tried his luck with a dipping long-range attempt that bounced wide of the home goal.
At the other end, a deflection took the sting out of Joe Lolley’s drive, allowing Bluebirds keeper Dillon Phillips to safely gather.
Cardiff continued to make the running in the second half but Josh Murphy was off-target with a 30-yard effort and Wilson’s free-kick brushed the side-netting after he picked himself up from the floor having been fouled by Harry Arter.
Just past the hour, Vaulks’ powerful low strike was collected by Smith, who was also equal to a rising Ralls shot from distance.
Junior Hoilett’s misplaced pass gifted Forest a rare foray forward with Alex Mighten carrying the ball to the edge of the away box before forcing Phillips into a save, while Arter saw a chance deflected over.
A late Hoilett volley flashed too high and he also hooked another opportunity wide over his shoulder.
But captain Joe Worrall kept things tight at the back for Forest, who made it six games unbeaten and kept a third consecutive clean sheet at home, equalling their best sequence since 2010.
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