|Marcus Tudgay is congratulated by his team mates after his early strike|
Ipswich Town 1 (Leadbitter (pen) 75)
Nottingham Forest 3 (Tudgay, 5, 78, McCleary, 26)
Nottingham Forest began 2012 in fine fashion on Monday as they finally put an end to a run of games that had stretched to seven outings without a goal - beating Ipswich to move level on points with fellow Championship strugglers Bristol City.
Prior to Marcus Tudgay’s early opener Forest had gone 635 minutes of football without a goal. The Reds’ frontman had finished neatly to put his side ahead before Garath McCleary added a second just before the half-hour mark.
The match was in no way one sided however, and the Tractor Boys could have been level at the break but for their lack of finishing in front of goal and the safe hands of Forest keeper Lee Camp.
The second period provided some good end-to-end football and although the visitors began well it was Ipswich that scored from the spot through Grant Leadbitter. But Tudgay ensured Forest avoided a tense finish as he headed home his sixth goal of the season to round off the scoring.
Before the trip to Portman Road the last goal the Reds scored was Tudgay's injury-time strike in a 3-2 victory in the reverse fixture at the City Ground on November 19. So it was fitting that the former Sheffield Wednesday man broke the duck.
Andy Reid put Tudgay in on goal with a great through ball to find the striker in space down the right. And the man who began his playing days at Derby County made it look like he had been scoring every week as he rifled the ball into the top corner from 15-yards.
Soon after the hosts missed a chance to go level when a Carlos Edwards’ free kick fell to home defender Damien Delaney - the Irishman teed up Jay Emmanuel-Thomas but he headed straight at Camp who collected comfortably.
George Boateng was back in the side for his first appearance under Reds’ boss Steve Cotterill and the veteran midfielder tested Town keeper Arran Lee-Barrett with a shot from 25-yards that the keeper pounced on well.
And it was the Reds that doubled their lead when Delaney failed to clear the ball before it fell for McCleary who spun past one man before firing the ball into the corner of the net from 22-yards.
Moments later it could have been three when former Premier League veteran Lee Bowyer gave the ball away in midfield and Lewis McGugan tried to capitalise with a rasping half-volley from 30-yards that flew just over.
Celtic loanee Daryl Murphy missed another golden chance for the home side to get a goal back when he found himself unmarked and struck straight at Camp from six yards out.
And Emmanuel-Thomas shuddered the crossbar as he struck a superb effort from around 35-yards that bounced back out to Bowyer who mis-kicked his effort but was offside anyway.
Former Forest winger Lee Martin then produced a great low cross to find Murphy moments before the break – but the visitors had luck on their side again and the Irishman headed over the bar from close range.
After the teams emerged for the second half the Reds had two early chances – the first following a Reid corner which found Tudgay whose headed effort was cleared off the line. Soon after a shot from Reid was blocked and fell to McGugan but the midfielder blazed wide.
Ipswich also continued to pile the pressure on and former Derby striker Nathan Ellington headed just wide of the left-hand post following a great ball from former Arsenal youngster Emmanuel-Thomas.
And the Tractor Boys did get back into the game from the spot when Emmanuel-Thomas ran into the box amongst a crowd of red shirts and was brought down by Boateng. Leadbitter stepped up to score - the ball striking both posts before going in.
The goal lifted the home side and they looked to have got a foot back in the game until Reds’ veteran Reid found a weighted cross to Tudgay who rose above his two markers to loop a great header over Lee-Barrett and into the net.
Leadbitter had the final attempt for Ipswich in stoppage-time but his effort was put out for a corner by Camp and the Reds held out for all three points.
Forest remain in the relegation zone but are now level on points with Bristol City who sit just above them in safety. The Reds play table-toppers Southampton next at the City Ground on Saturday 14th January. Kick-off is at 3pm.