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Nottingham Forest 0-3 Millwall: Matt Smith scores hat-trick for Gary Rowett's Lions

Matt Smith heads in his third
Matt Smith headed in from close range to complete his hat-trick and take his season tally to 11 goals

Matt Smith scored a hat-trick as Millwall boosted their Championship play-off hopes and delivered a blow to Nottingham Forest's promotion challenge with a convincing win at the City Ground.

Forest had hoped to move to within five points of the top two with victory over the Lions, but instead found themselves 3-0 down inside 33 minutes.

Smith put the visitors in front in the 20th minute with a brave diving header before deflecting in Jayson Molumby's shot to double the lead.

And the powerful striker completed a 13-minute hat-trick when he climbed above Joe Worrall to head in Shane Ferguson's corner from close range.

Victory lifts Gary Rowett's side up to seventh in the table and within two points of the play-off places, while Forest remain fourth, eight points adrift of second-placed Leeds.

Worryingly for the Reds, they have now only won once in six games since beating the Whites at the City Ground last month at a time when they would have hoped to keep the pressure on their rivals.

Forest began brightly, with the recalled Joao Carvalho, making only his ninth Championship start of the season, shooting straight at Lions keeper Bartosz Bialkowski early on.

But Millwall, who had only scored three goals in their previous seven games, always carried a threat on the counter attack and were clinical in the way they took their first two goals, with Mason Bennett at the heart of both.

The on-loan Derby forward drove forward and fed the overlapping Murray Wallace in the build-up for the first, with the full-back then cutting inside Ben Watson before crossing for Smith to head in from eight yards.

Then Bennett himself exploited space down the Forest right and pulled the ball back for Molumby, whose sweet first-time side-footed finish from 15 yards took a nick of Smith's heel on its way past Forest keeper Brice Samba.

Sammy Ameobi saw a shot from 25 yards deflected narrowly wide shortly before half-time as Forest sought a way back into the game.

And although the home side dominated possession and territory after the break, the closest they came was when half-time substitute John Bostock twice had long-range shots pushed away by Bialkowski.

Forest appealed for a penalty when Carvalho appeared to be hauled down by Shaun Hutchinson as he shaped to shoot but referee Geoff Eltringham dismissed their claims and Millwall held on in relative comfort.

The Lions are now unbeaten in their past five league games against Forest and have lost only once in previous 10 meetings.

Forest head coach Sabri Lamouchi told BBC Radio Nottingham:

"It's a bad feeling and disappointing because the expectation was different. We gave them the possibility to kill us and they killed us. Congratulations to Millwall. Physically it was a big impact from them and and we suffered a lot.

"Mentally when you are physically down you need to play more simple. It was the wrong performance and result. It's a bad moment. We need to refresh and come back in training and find the solution for the next game.

"We have done a good job until now and we must stay together. We were not dangerous. We need to play with more passion. Millwall were better physically, the mentality was more aggressive and they had better determination.

"After eight months maybe some players are a little tired, so we need to think about that."

Millwall manager Gary Rowett told BBC Radio London:

"We were superb in different ways today. In the first 45 minutes, from an attacking sense, I thought all three goals were very, very well worked and we had some other opportunities which was pleasing.

"We could have come here and gone 5-2-3, but I felt there was an opportunity against Forest to exploit certain areas and one of those was a little bit of direct play on the angle to big Smudge (Matt Smith).

"I have asked the strikers to score goals and he has stood up. I have to work the team around Smudge because he is a big threat at the moment. Sometimes it means we have a little lack of energy in certain areas but he led the line absolutely magnificently.

"The lads worked really hard. The gameplan was spot on today. At 3-0 up we had to defend well under pressure and we did that. And we finished really well. They didn't create too many chances."

Line-ups

Nottm Forest

  • 30SambaBooked at 79mins
  • 11Cash
  • 3Figueiredo
  • 4Worrall
  • 2Ribeiro
  • 8Watson
  • 17SemedoSubstituted forBostockat 45'minutes
  • 23LolleySubstituted forDiakhabyat 80'minutes
  • 10CarvalhoSubstituted forWalkerat 72'minutes
  • 19Ameobi
  • 7Grabban

Substitutes

  • 13Bostock
  • 14Diakhaby
  • 16Jenkinson
  • 20Dawson
  • 22Yates
  • 34Walker
  • 49Muric

Millwall

  • 33Bialkowski
  • 12Romeo
  • 4Hutchinson
  • 5CooperBooked at 87mins
  • 3Wallace
  • 16Molumby
  • 19Woods
  • 7Wallace
  • 20BennettSubstituted forBradshawat 61'minutes
  • 11FergusonSubstituted forBödvarssonat 86'minutes
  • 10SmithSubstituted forPearceat 80'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Williams
  • 9Bradshaw
  • 15Pearce
  • 21Mahoney
  • 22O'Brien
  • 23Bödvarsson
  • 31Sandford
Referee:
Geoff Eltringham
Attendance:
27,307

Match Stats

Home TeamNottm ForestAway TeamMillwall
Possession
Home68%
Away32%
Shots
Home18
Away13
Shots on Target
Home4
Away4
Corners
Home9
Away5
Fouls
Home7
Away7

Live Text

Match ends, Nottingham Forest 0, Millwall 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Nottingham Forest 0, Millwall 3.

Attempt missed. John Bostock (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Sammy Ameobi.

Corner, Millwall. Conceded by Matthew Cash.

Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Mahlon Romeo.

Booking

Jake Cooper (Millwall) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Sammy Ameobi (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jake Cooper (Millwall).

Attempt saved. Jed Wallace (Millwall) right footed shot from long range on the left is saved in the bottom right corner.

Substitution

Substitution, Millwall. Jón Dadi Bödvarsson replaces Shane Ferguson.

Foul by Tobias Figueiredo (Nottingham Forest).

Tom Bradshaw (Millwall) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by John Bostock (Nottingham Forest).

Ryan Woods (Millwall) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Adama Diakhaby replaces Joe Lolley.

Substitution

Substitution, Millwall. Alex Pearce replaces Matt Smith.

Booking

Brice Samba (Nottingham Forest) is shown the yellow card.

Attempt saved. Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by John Bostock.

Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Bartosz Bialkowski.

Attempt saved. John Bostock (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Tyler Walker.

Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Murray Wallace.

Substitution

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Tyler Walker replaces João Carvalho.

Foul by Yuri Ribeiro (Nottingham Forest).

Matt Smith (Millwall) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Tom Bradshaw (Millwall).

Attempt missed. João Carvalho (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Yuri Ribeiro with a cross.

Offside, Nottingham Forest. Ben Watson tries a through ball, but Joe Lolley is caught offside.

Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Mahlon Romeo.

Attempt saved. John Bostock (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Matthew Cash (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Murray Wallace (Millwall).

Attempt missed. Jake Cooper (Millwall) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Shane Ferguson with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Millwall. Conceded by Joe Worrall.

Offside, Nottingham Forest. João Carvalho tries a through ball, but Lewis Grabban is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Millwall. Tom Bradshaw replaces Mason Bennett.

Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Jake Cooper.

Attempt missed. Sammy Ameobi (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Matthew Cash.

Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Mahlon Romeo.

Attempt missed. João Carvalho (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Sammy Ameobi.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1West Brom361912564372769
2Leeds36208854302468
3Fulham36189951371463
4Nottm Forest371612948381060
5Brentford361691159332657
6Preston36168124942756
7Millwall37131594440454
8Bristol City36159125052-254
9Blackburn3614111152421053
10Swansea361313104645152
11Cardiff36121595050051
12Sheff Wed36139144644248
13Derby361212124649-348
14QPR36138155561-647
15Birmingham361211134754-747
16Reading36129154341245
17Huddersfield36119164556-1142
18Hull36118174858-1041
19Wigan361010163850-1240
20Charlton36109174453-939
21Stoke36116194454-1039
22Middlesbrough36814143647-1138
23Barnsley36810184260-1834
24Luton36104224371-2834
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