Forest’s League Cup dream over for another year.

The League Cup, in display pitch-side at Burton Albion's Pirelli Stadium before the match with Nottingham Forest.
The League Cup, in display pitch-side at Burton Albion's Pirelli Stadium before the match with Nottingham Forest.

Even after seven points from three away matches it was no shock Forest boss Aitor Karanka made 10 changes for Forest’s fourth game in 11 days - despite a place in the last eight of the League Cup being at stake.

Indeed, the only surprise was Matty Cash keeping his place, but with Daryl Murphy struggling with a virus and the desire to give both Joao Carvalho and Lewis Grabban a rest, there was hardly any other options in the front four - it won’t have gone unnoticed that Virgil Gomis scored within six minutes of his debut after joining Conference side Braintree on a month’s loan.

The expected changes did not stop Forest fans travelling the short distance to Burton in numbers - all 1,621 tickets being sold within a few days of going on sale and plenty of social media messages highlighting the number of Tricky Trees in the home sections.

But it was no surprise - despite Aitor Karanka’s pledge to pick a team to win the game - that his Carabao Cup rotation finally caught up with Forest.

The Reds’ supporters were in fine voice in the build-up to the game and throughout the first half. But like the Norwich game, where Forest fans turned up in record numbers, the 11 on the pitch failed to respond.

While Hillal Soudani was full of running, the front four looked like they’d never played together before, and Burton’s high press, like Leeds, forced Forest’s midfield two deeper and deeper, drew mistakes and won possession back quickly.

Nottingham Forest fans at Burton.

Nottingham Forest fans at Burton.

Indeed, Burton could and should have been out of sight at half-time. A combination of excellent goalkeeping by Luke Steele and poor finishing by Burton’s Northern Ireland international striker Liam Boyce, including blazing his penalty high over the bar into the jeering Forest fans, kept the score goalless.

Forest missed a great chance to take the lead early in the second half when Gil Dias’s jinking run was let down by a poor finish, albeit it looked like he was pulled back at the crucial moment.

But Burton went up the other end and when Saido Janko turned his back on Scott Fraser’s shot it hit him and looped in the far corner past Steele.

Thankfully, unlike the last goal Forest conceded, the only thing controversial about this strike was Forest’s defending.

It was 2-0 12 minutes later, when Forest failed to react to a handball shout and the ball fell to Fraser who made no mistake to fire low past Steele’s right hand.

Grabban, on for the injured Soudani pulled a goal back, finishing well from Dias’s through ball, but Burton soon made it 3-1.

Again Forest failed to clear the lines and Fraser’s cross found the unmarked Jake Hesketh at the back and he volleyed home in style.

Forest’s Carabao Cup “run” has been littered with late drama – Cash’s late equaliser v Burton, Newcastle’s penalty that wasn’t and Cash and Dias’s late goals that followed, plus Saido Berahino’s miss for Stoke.

But the only bright spot late on was the appearance of youngster Arvin Appiah for his debut, but although he poked home after Burton’s former Forest goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov saved his initial attempt, Forest had left themselves too much to do and the League Cup dreams were over for another year.

Expect another nine or 10 changes for Saturday against Sheffield United, and there’s always the FA Cup...