Huddersfield claimed a third straight win to strengthen their grip on a Championship play-off spot and condemn Nottingham Forest to back-to-back defeats for the first time under Steve Cooper.
Duane Holmes’ second goal in three games proved decisive, the winger exchanging passes with Harry Toffolo before firing a low first-half finish past Brice Samba at his near post.
Forest had several chances to quickly draw level, Joe Worrall slicing horribly wide from 10 yards, Philip Zinckernagel striking the bar and Xande Silva’s snapshot well saved by Terriers keeper Lee Nicholls.
Brennan Johnson wasted a glorious opportunity to equalise after the break, volleying a loose ball wide after Nicholls parried from Silva, as Huddersfield remain sixth while Forest stay ninth.
- Relive Thursday’s EFL action
Huddersfield, buoyed by come-from-behind 3-2 wins over Bristol City and Blackpool in their previous two games, struck the woodwork inside 17 seconds as Sorba Thomas’ 25-yard effort crashed off the bar.
The visitors lost top scorer Danny Ward to injury early on and were fortunate not to go behind when Johnson headed tamely wide from a cross by Silva, the Portuguese impressing on his first start.
But the Terriers opened the scoring with a goal of real quality and the fact it came courtesy of an ex-Derby player in the shape of Holmes rubbed salt into the wounds for the home supporters.
Forest had lost only twice in 16 previous games since Cooper took charge in September, rising out of the bottom three and into play-off contention, but could not find a way a back in the hour that remained.
That they failed to level before half-time was down to the woodwork, with on-loan Watford winger Zinckernagel unlucky to hit the underside of the crossbar from 15 yards.
But they were also left to rue poor finishing, with Worrall and, in particular, Johnson, failing to hit the target with excellent openings in the Huddersfield area either side of the break.
The Terriers had chances to seal the points in the second half, Danel Sinani steering Jordan Rhodes’ square ball over after a Worrall slip and Samba tipping a 20-yard Lewis O’Brien strike over.
But they defended stoutly to keep Forest at bay in the closing stages with Nicholls rarely troubled as Huddersfield claimed a fourth win in their past six visits to the City Ground.
Forest boss Steve Cooper told BBC Radio Nottingham:
“It’s a disappointing result but I don’t think it’s a disappointing performance – we’ve played well tonight and in some ways as well as we have played in recent weeks and months.
“I’m disappointed with the goal we’ve conceded because it’s a real feature of Huddersfield, how they score with crosses from the left-hand side, how Toffolo hits those sort of flat crosses into those areas.
“We did a lot of work on that over the last two days so to not adhere to what we’ve worked on is disappointing and from half-time at Middlesbrough to the end of this game it’s not good that we’ve not scored because we’ve created more than enough chances.
“That’s where the frustration lies but I also saw a lot of good things today, a lot of things I really liked and I won’t lose sight of that. The best team lost, that’s for sure.”
Huddersfield head coach Carlos Corberan told BBC Radio Leeds:
“I think in some moments of the game we understood how we want to play, and in some moments we found advantages in the middle of the pitch to allay the press of the opponents and attack more.
“But it is true that in some moments we conceded counter-attacks against a team that is really, really dangerous when they have spaces to run and get men in behind.
“In the first half we conceded some chances by mistakes we could have avoided and it was a game that was defensively demanding, and without a lot of work it would have been impossible to take the three points.
“In many moments of the game the team was playing how we want, and some losing of the ball created problems in the counter-attack, but it is a positive result to continue our run as a team.”
- 4WorrallBooked at 28mins
- 21OjedaSubstituted forRibeiro Diasat 67′minutes
- 11ZinckernagelSubstituted forCarvalhoat 80′minutes
- 19Costa SilvaSubstituted forTaylorat 72′minutes
- 18Ribeiro Dias
- 21NichollsBooked at 78mins
- 16ThomasSubstituted forKoromaat 68′minutes
- 24SinaniSubstituted forÁvilaat 76′minutes
- 19HolmesBooked at 14mins
- 25WardSubstituted forRhodesat 15′minutes
- Gavin Ward
Match ends, Nottingham Forest 0, Huddersfield Town 1.
Second Half ends, Nottingham Forest 0, Huddersfield Town 1.
Attempt missed. Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Attempt missed. Cafú (Nottingham Forest) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Djed Spence with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Djed Spence (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Brennan Johnson.
Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Lee Nicholls.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. João Carvalho replaces Philip Zinckernagel.
Attempt missed. Duane Holmes (Huddersfield Town) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Lewis O’Brien.
Foul by James Garner (Nottingham Forest).
Lewis O’Brien (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Joe Worrall (Nottingham Forest).
Jordan Rhodes (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Lee Nicholls (Huddersfield Town) is shown the yellow card.
Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Duane Holmes.
Substitution, Huddersfield Town. Pipa replaces Danel Sinani.
Attempt blocked. Scott High (Huddersfield Town) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Huddersfield Town. Conceded by Djed Spence.
Foul by Lyle Taylor (Nottingham Forest).
Levi Colwill (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Lyle Taylor replaces Xande Silva.