Louis Moult’s second half goal gave the Lilywhites all three points at the City Ground.
The No.9 fired home from close range from substitute Lukas Nmecha’s driven ball across the goalline 11 minutes into the second half in a superb away display from the Lilywhites.
Manager Alex Neil made four changes to the side that had lined-up up against Birmingham City the previous week, with skipper Tom Clarke, Ben Davies and Daniel Johnson all back from injury, whilst Andrew Hughes came in for the injured Josh Earl, who he had replaced at half-time at St Andrews.
And it was the visitors who had much the better of the first half chances. Sixteen minutes in a long throw from Tom Barkhuizen was flicked on by Paul Huntington and an out-stretched leg from masked-skipper Clarke almost poked the ball past giant Forest goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.
In retort, the hosts went straight up the other end as the side in Red worked the ball well, with Joe Lolley’s poked effort well-saved by Declan Rudd with his legs to concede a corner.
But the best chance came at the half-way point of the opening period as Barkhuizen burst through, running onto a mistake by Jack Robinson, who slipped, the No.29 bearing down on goal and firing goalwards only for Pantilimon to save and Tendayi Darikwa to cleared the ricocheting ball off the line.
North End suffered yet another injury blow when Brandon Barker was forced off with what looked like a hamstring injury after 25 minutes, but the man who replaced him –Nmecha – had a huge shout for a penalty was he was dragged to the ground in the right-hand corner of the box by Claudio Yacob – replays showing it looked a clear spot kick.
The Lilywhites started the second half brightly as well, with Gallagher’s left-wing free falling at the back post to Huntington, who drove a shot blocked by Michael Hefele. Moments later though another controversial moment as Pantilimon put his hands on a back pass on the goalline just three yards to the left of his goal. It should have been a PNE free kick, but referee Steve Martin let play go on.
And the opening goal came for North End 11 minutes into the second half. Paul Gallagher’s corner from the right-hand side was in to Nmecha at the front post, who held the ball, turned and drove it across the goalline for Moult to slide in and poke the ball home from close range.
Ryan Ledson, on for Moult, forced Pantilimon to push the ball around the post from 25 yards as the game entered the final 15 minutes, but on the break Declan Rudd denied another substitute Daryl Murphy, tipping the ball superbly over the bar at full stretch from Darikwa’s right-wing cross, it was a truly exceptional stop from the North End No.1.
In the closing stages the game management from North End was superb, as they held out against a desperate Forest attempt to get something from the game and with the final whistle came jubilant celebrations from the away end.
Nottingham Forest line-up: Pantilimon, Colback (Murphy, 77), Grabban, Carvalho, Osborn (c), Cash (Dias, 64), Robinson, Lolley, Yacob, Darikwa, Hefele. Subs not used: Steele, Guedioura, Janko, Ansarifard, Appiah.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Clarke (c), Hughes, Browne, Huntington, Davies, Barkhuizen, Gallagher, Moult (Ledson, 73), Johnson (Burke, 90), Barker (Nmecha, 25). Subs not used: Maxwell, Fisher, Storey, Woods.
Attendance: 27,777 (1,402 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr S Martin