Crystal Palace 0-3 Nott'm Forest

Nottingham Forest confirmed their place in the Championship play-offs with a stress-free victory over 10-man Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Forest, needing a point to secure their spot, went ahead when Lewis McGugan's rasping shot bounced in from 18 yards.

Dean Moxey was then sent off for a late lunge on Marcus Tudgay, who made it 2-0 with a header after the break.

And substitute David McGoldrick's stunning 25-yard shot sealed the win and a play-off date with Swansea City.

The Reds were already on top by the time former Derby County defender Moxey was shown a straight red card for his reckless, studs-up challenge on Tudgay after 25 minutes.

But even if Forest had failed to get the precious point they required, it would have taken an emphatic Leeds win over champions QPR at Loftus Road, and a six-goal swing, to nudge Billy Davies' side out of the top six.

Leeds did emerge victorious with a spirited 2-1 success but Forest fears that Rangers might adopt full party mood and a lackadaisical approach after escaping a points deduction over the Alejandro Faurlin saga proved unfounded.

The Reds looked like a side desperate to avoid having to rely on other sides anyway.

And despite a promising Eagles opening in which Nathaniel Clyde skipped down the wing and sent over a fine cross, Forest soon began to dominate.

Luke Chambers almost headed them ahead but Pablo Counago diverted the centre-half's effort up on to the bar and away to safety and then McGugan sent a rasping low drive narrowly wide of the far post from the edge of the box.

McGugan then settled Forest nerves when he drove his shot down into the turf and into the back of the net with deadly accuracy.

Palace hopes all but vanished with Moxey's dismissal which forced boss Dougie Freedman to sacrifice striker Counago in favour of another ex-Ram Claude Davis.

The hosts did regroup after the break and Davis and Patrick McCarthy both threatened from set-pieces while Neil Danns shot just wide after a fine run.

But Forest, who have now won four in row as they head into a two-legged semi-final play-off date with Swansea, always looked comfortable.

Tudgay's close-range header from Brendan Moloney's pinpoint right-wing cross settled any remaining nerves with 20 minutes left.

And McGoldrick scored the goal of the game when he turned unopposed to smash the ball home from distance on 80 minutes.

McGugan almost added his second with a vicious free-kick that went over but the travelling 3,500 Forest fans did not need another goal to start their celebrations.


Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman:

"I am disappointed with the result, but for us to finish where we have from where we were when I took over is a huge success.

"I will have discussions next week about budgets but my early signs are we will be going the way of bringing young players through.

"I will try and stabilise the club over the next few years and build it slowly. I don't see us buying £1m players, we are not geared up for that yet."

Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies:

"I am very proud of getting to the play-offs again. This group of players have been written off time and time again.

"But we know what the play-offs is about - it is a lottery, Lady Luck and refereeing decisions.

"If you get the breaks you can get there - and the good thing is that you are looking at a very confident Forest.

"It is a Forest that is scoring goals and one that is looking forward to the difficult challenge over the next two matches. Hopefully we will get those breaks."

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