Nottingham Forest 2 Hartlepool United 0

Gareth Taylor repaid Gary Megson's faith in him helping to fire Nottingham Forest to a valuable 2-0 home win over Hartlepool.

The striker was restored to the starting line-up after six matches on the sidelines and responded by heading Forest into a 34th minute lead.

Hartlepool were reduced to ten men with half an hour to go, after Michael Nelson was sent off for an elbow on Jack Lester.

But, despite their one-man advantage, wasn't until injury time at the end that Forest made certain of the three points, as Eugen Bopp stepped up to convert from the penalty spot, after David Johnson had been brought down in the box.

It was the Reds who dictated the pace early on.

The chances were still fairly few in number, but those that were carved out went Forest's way, with Megson's side creating two golden opportunities in the first 20 minutes.

With only five minutes gone, a Kris Commons free-kick delivered into the box caused chaos, with James Perch, Nicky Southall and David Friio all seeing shots charged down, before the ball broke to Taylor, who was only denied by a brave save from Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.

The Greek keeper had to be on his toes again, after Southall had picked up on a Taylor flick and delivered a dangerous ball to the far post, where Friio's header back across goal was well claimed by Konstantopoulos.

Lester came close to forcing the lead, as he picked up on Commons' pass before striking a curling shot from the edge of the box that flew only narrowly wide.

But Forest did find the breakthrough on 34 minutes however, as Southall again angled a ball in from the right to pick out Friio on the far side of the box, this time the Frenchman controlled the ball well, before flighting a clever pass across the face of the six-yard box to Taylor, who headed home emphatically.

The goal seemed to lift Hartlepool, who launched their first meaningful attack, but Jon Daly fired badly wide when fed by Michael Proctor on the edge of the box.

And Forest could have made it 2-0 before the break when Lester almost pounced when Konstantopoulos failed to properly deal with a back-pass from Neil Collins, before recovering at the last moment to clear.

Hartlepool switched to a more attack minded 4-4-2 in the second half, with striker Eifion Williams replacing midfielder Michael Proctor, but it was still Forest on top.

Commons did superbly two beat two Hartlepool defenders for pace down the left before firing a low cross to the near post, where Lester just failed to get a touch.

Anthony Sweeney should then have scored for the visitors, but fired a shot straight down the throat of Russell Hoult, after finding himself with acres of room just inside the box.

Hartlepool then shot themselves in the foot as they were reduced to ten men, following a moment of madness from Michael Nelson. The big defender hauled Lester to the ground on the edge of the box and appeared to catch the striker with an elbow. After consulting his linesman, referee Carl Boyeson brandished the red card.

Instead of struggling when down to ten men, Hartlepool almost equalised, but sub Williams failed to make contact with Tommy Butler's teasing ball across.

Taylor should have sealed the game after a quick break lead by sub Johnson, but failed to trouble Konstanopoulos from the edge of the box, with the goal at his mercy.

But Forest did make sure of three points as Darren Williams brought down Johnson in the box in injury time, to concede a late penalty, which substitute Bopp calmly converted, sending Konstantopoulos the wrong way with a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner.