Nottingham Forest 0 Bristol City 1
Martin O’Neill’ was denied a fairytale win on his return to Nottingham Forest, the scene of his greatest triumphs as a player, as Lee Johnson’s in-form Bristol City spoiled the homecoming party with Famara Diedhiou’s strike enough to settle the match.
The City Ground was sold out for the occasion and the Northern Irishman’s appearance on the pitch before kick-off lifted both levels of noise of the home fans and expectation.
“It was quite emotional,” admitted O’Neill, “I was very touched with it. It is a genuine privilege to manage this football club and I want to make an impact here.
“I thought we could get momentum going early in the game but Bristol City settled much better than we did.”
O’Neill’s new team responded to the atmosphere as Ben Osborn picked out Joe Lolley who crashed a volley inches wide of a post.
However, Bristol City, seventh in the Championship table, were far from ideal opponents. They are unbeaten since November and had arrived in Nottingham on the hunt for a fifth successive victory.
O’Neill had been forced to name a makeshift back four, with Tunisia’s Yohan Benalouane – who had only signed on Friday from Leicester City – making his debut. Forest struggled as the visitors soon took control.