Reds In Reserve
On an evening when Grant Holt hoped to catch Colin Calderwood's eye, Jack Lester took the opportunity to send a reminder to the Forest manager.
Lester's 82nd-minute foray into the Port Vale penalty area and emphatic finish not only saved the Reds' blushes, but demonstrated the depth of attacking strength at the City Ground.
Whether it will be enough to earn him a place on the bench for Saturday's clash with Millwall remains to be seen - but last night was always going to be about Holt.
Forest's decision to accept a £300,000 bid from Bristol City for the former Rochdale striker suggests his time at the League One leaders may be short-lived.
But with manager Calderwood watching in the stands, this was a perfect opportunity to prove he is ready to fight for his future. If endeavour alone was all that was required to stay at the club then the Forest manager could not help but be impressed. But unfortunately for Holt, he was unable to underline a hard-working performance with a goal.
Misjudging a first-half chip when put through one-on-one with Joe Anyon, he might have got his name on the score sheet early on, while he failed again with a close-range header after the break.
But he still contributed to a 2-1 victory for Forest with Vincent Fernandez and Lester canceling out a scorcher from Christian Smith.
It was the least they could have expected after putting out a side that only emphasises the problem Calderwood has in keeping his entire squad happy.
With no fewer than seven players who have featured for the first team this season in the starting XI, Holt was not the only one hoping to be involved on Saturday.
With the likes of Julian Bennett and Gary Holt also named, each had the chance to force his way into Calderwood's thinking.
By contrast, Vale had to delve deep into their reserves fielding a currently unattached player in Levi Reid, while Forest loanee Ross Gardner captained the home side.
The midfielder, on a month's loan, could hardly have expected to swap Forest's reserves for Vale's second string when he decided to try his luck away from the City Ground.
But he needed only look at the quality of player forced onto the fringes at Forest to realise any hopes of salvaging a career with the Reds are remote.
Even so, he was part of a patched-up Vale side that more than matched their illustrious opponents.
Indeed it took the legs of Rune Pedersen to deny Danny Glover a first-half goal from close range.
Things got worse for Forest after the break as midfielder Smith unleashed a powerful drive that crashed in off the underside of the bar in the 61st minute.
It prompted the required response from the visitors who were back on level terms ten minutes later through Fernandez's volley.
Robert Hughes and James Beaumont both struck the bar shortly after as Forest began to turn the screw before Lester's late strike sealed it.
Forest: Pedersen, Power, Bennett, Bencherif (Liburd 87), Gary Holt, Beaumont, Pittman (Cullingworth 66), Grant Holt, Lester, Hughes. Subs: Redmond, Sinclair,
Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.