Nottingham Forest 3-0 Preston North End
Saturday December 19, City Ground, (Att: 21,582)
Paul McKenna scored against his former club as Nottingham Forest extended their unbeaten run to 14 games with a crushing win over Preston.
In the end, it was a convincing victory for Billy Davies's side against his former employers, with the result moving Forest level on points with second-placed West Brom in the Championship table.
The home side pressed North End back early on and Dele Adebola had an early shout for a penalty turned down after a collision with Billy Jones, then Wes Morgan headed just wide from a corner.
It didn't take long for Forest to take the lead from another corner though. Chris Cohen's inswinger was punched out by Preston keeper Andy Lonergan, however the ball fell to feet of McKenna, who unleashed an unstoppable dipping half volley into the bottom corner.
Rob Earnshaw then saw a strike harshly flagged offside, but it was through the Welshman's short corner that the home side doubled their advantage. The ball was worked to Nicky Shorey whose deep cross found Dele Adebola stealing in at the back post to finish.
And it could have been 3-0 before the break, Lonergan making a smart save to block Paul Anderson's shot after a lightning breakaway from the team in red.
And his opposite number in the Forest goal, Lee Camp, was at full stretch to stop a Jones strike as Preston tried to respond.
North End boss Alan Irvine made a double change at half-time, bringing on strikers Jon Parkin and Neil Mellor, and it was the latter of the two who missed a good chance to reduce arrears when he shot over from close range.
However, there was no way back for the Lancashire outfit as Forest sealed the points in the last ten minutes.
Lewis McGugan jinked past two Preston defenders before slipping the ball between Lonergan's legs and into the net as Davies's men confirmed their place among the promotion favourites.