Mark Warburton said his side did the ‘ugly side’ of the game well and paid tribute to match-winner Daryl Murphy after their 1-0 win over Sunderland.
Murphy (pictured) offered little in the game as Forest struggled to open up the hosts but he exploited an error from Tyias Browning to score the winner.
Warburton said: “Daryl [Murphy] offers us a physicality but he is a very good technical player too. He knows where the goal is and does a brilliant job for the team.
“I am pleased for him and delighted for the players, they have worked hard. We had to defend that goal, set-piece after set-piece at the end.
“We did the ugly side really well. We have received criticism but the players stood up tonight and I am really pleased for them,” he added.
“There was no lack of work ethic from the players. They showed their quality. The squad is getting there, it is gelling but we are looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Warburton, who thought fear was a factor for both sides, was pleased his side an early spell of pressure as the Black Cats looked to put a poor run of form behind them.
“Both teams came into the game on the back of bad results, we thought Sunderland would come out hard and fast and they did, with the crowd behind them,” he said.
“We had to defend the goal with a passion and be clever on the break. I thought both teams played with a bit of fear, if I’m honest.
“At the end of the day we have attacking players on the pitch and got the rewards in the end.”
Forest themselves came into the game in poor form after a strong start to the season, but Warburton said their 1-0 victory showed how quickly things change in the Championship.
He said: “This division is relentless. Day in, day out. If you can put a run together of two or three wins then it all changes.
“Bottom beats top and nobody is ever surprised. You just focus on the next game.”