Ben Watson’s first goal for Forest – his first in more than three years – was enough to help Sabri Lamouchi’s side extend their unbeaten run to nine games with a narrow 1-0 win over Barnsley at the City Ground.
The veteran midfielder swept home early in the second half to break the resolve of a young Tykes side who have now gone eight games without a win – but were unlucky not to take a point from this Sky Bet Championship contest.
Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba had to make three big saves to hold Stendel’s Barnsley at bay, even amid a game in which the hosts were on top for long spells.
“I cannot imagine that we can play much better than we did in the second half,” said Barnsley boss Stendel. “It was a disappointing result but a very good performance.
“I am proud of this performance and of the attitude from my team. We created chances, we pressed in the second half and played some good passing football. We played well, but we needed to score to cap things off.
“When we conceded the goal, it was very difficult away from home – you could feel the Nottingham atmosphere as it was a special day for Nottingham.
“We have just got to work better and work harder.
“It was a great performance and I am disappointed for the players because they played with passion and applied pressure on Forest in the second half.
“We will win more games than we lose if we play as we did in the second half. I know that.”
Three points were enough to lift Forest into the top six – and to leave Barnsley stranded in the relegation zone.
“We suffered a lot in the game, but I do not mind this when we come through the game with three points,” said Lamouchi. “The Championship is so, so tough. There are no weak opponents. We respected Barnsley today. We did not score in the first half, when we deserved to.
“It was not a fantastic performance, but it was a good result.
“We need to work. It was a good result. If we play like this and we win matches? I will sign up for that right now.”
Forest: Samba, Cash, Dawson, Worrall, Yuri Ribeiro, Watson, Sow, Lolley (Semedo 81), Tiago Silva (Adomah 60), Joao Carvalho (Ameobi 70), Grabban. Unused substitutes: Tobias Figueiredo, Bostock, Robinson, Muric.
Barnsley: Collins, J Williams (Chaplin 71), Andersen, Halme (McGeehan 77), Pinillos, Sibbick, Mowatt, Brown, Thomas, Wilks, Woodrow (Schmidt 72). Unused substitutes: Bahre, Walton, Oduor, Thiam.
Referee: J Gillett (Australia).