Nottingham Forest 0 Preston North End 1 - match report from the City Ground as Louis Moult's goal delivers a second away win of the season
Louis Moult's goal early in the second half earned Preston North End a precious away victory over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
Moult struck in the 56th minute, sliding in among a sea of legs to meet a cross from substitute Lukas Nmecha and turn the ball home from close range.
For much of the first half, North End had been under the cosh from their hosts and at times ridden their luck.
But having got into the interval level, they re-grouped and came back out with a new sense of determination.
After Moult had struck with his fifth goal of the campaign, the visitors protected their lead extremely effectively.
The one scare was a close-range header from Forest substitute Daryl Murphy which Declan Rudd did superbly to tip behind.
This was Preston's second away victory in the Championship, following-on from the 1-0 win at Bristol City last month, it the perfect tonic after the disappointing 3-0 defeat at Birmingham last week.
The North End starting XI had seen four changes from the one beaten at St Andrew's
There was a much earlier than expected return to midfield for Daniel Johnson after a thigh injury, one which had initially been estimated to keep him out for up to six weeks.
Ben Davies came back into the centre of defence after hamstring trouble, with Tom Clarke and Andrew Hughes returning in the full-back roles.
Skipper Clarke was wearing a mask to protect his broken nose and was to perform superbly at right-back.
The first half was one played very much in the Preston half, with Forest moving the ball well on the front foot.
Joe Lolley sent an early shot straight at Rudd, while one-time PNE target Tendayi Darikwa fired a low shot across the face of goal and wide after a tidy passing sequence had played the right-back in down the side of the box.
North End's first sight of goal came in the 16th minute, a Tom Barkhuizen long throw-in from the right flicked on by Paul Huntington and falling towards Clarke in the six-yard box.
As the ball spun up, Clarke couldn't quite meet it and the danger was cleared.
Rudd and Clarke combined well to foil Matty Cash after he got behind the Preston defence, his shot taken behind for a corner.
PNE should have taken the lead with 21 minutes of the clock when a slip by Jack Robinson gave Barkhuizen a clear run into the box from the right channel.
Barkhuizen's low shot was blocked by Costel Pantilimon, the ball spinning up off the keeper and towards goal but Darikwa got back to head it behind.
The injury list got another name added to it in the 25th minute when Brandon Barker pulled up holding his hamstring after making a run in midfield.
Barker, on loan from Manchester City, looked distraught as he turned to the bench to signal that he couldn't carry on - Nmecha coming on as his replacement.
Nmecha's first involvement was to come inside off the right-wing and try his luck with a low shot which found the side-netting at the near post.
The Preston goal lived a charmed life as Forest fashioned two good chances in the space of four minutes.
Cash met a cross from Grabban and volleyed just wide, then Grabban escaped the attentions of Davies on the right hand side of the box, cut in along the byline but saw his ball into the middle roll across the six-yard box without anyone getting a touch.
North End looked more solid in the opening stages of the second half - they had conceded early in the previous three matches.
Rudd made a comfortable save down to his right to hold Cash's low shot from the edge of the box, before PNE stunned the City Ground by taking the lead in the 56th minute.
Paul Gallagher's corner from the right hit Nmecha at the near post and bounced down towards the byline.
Nmecha chased it and pulled the ball back low from the byline into the middle where Moult slid in among the boots to knock the ball over the line from close range.
It happened in front of the travelling PNE fans, a handful of who got over the advertising boards to celebrate, with a blue smoke flare thrown on to the pitch.
Moult was to depart the action later, replaced by Ryan Ledson as North End sought to protect their lead and perhaps reduce the risk of another injury in the front line.
North End switched from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-1-1, Johnson playing behind Nmecha.
In the 78th minute, Ledson tried his luck with a right-foot drive from 25 yards which Pantilimon dived to palm past the far post.
It was a substitute at the other end who almost brought Forest an equaliser moments later, the home side counter-attacking down the right-wing.
Grabban's cross found Murphy in the box, the big striker's header superbly clawed behind by Rudd.
North End saw out more than five minutes of stoppage-time to see the job through, putting more distance between themselves and the bottom three.
Forest: Pantilimon, Darikwa, Hefele, Robinson, Osborn, Yacob, Colback (Murphy 77), Cash (Dias 64), Carvalho, Lolley, Grabban. Subs (not used): Guedioura, Janko, Asarifard, Appiah, Steele.
PNE: Rudd, Clarke, Huntington, Davies, Hughes, Gallagher, Johnson (Burke 90), Barkhuizen, Browne, Barker (Nmecha 25), Moult (Ledson 73), Subs (not used): Fisher, Storey, Woods, Maxwell.
Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)