The short trip to the City Ground had all the ingredients of being a tough, tricky assignment for Sheffield Wednesday.
Nottingham Forest entered Saturday’s contest having won three on the spin in their own backyard and boasting the best home record in the Championship’s bottom half.
Their results had improved of late under interim boss Gary Brazil and the team beefed up their forward line at the end of January by capturing Ross McCormack and Zach Clough.
And, like the Owls, Forest still have plenty to play for this season. They are not many points above the relegation zone.
It represented a big test of the Owls’ promotion credentials, but Carlos Carvalhal’s side are made of stern stuff these days and secured a fifth consecutive win over Forest after two sublime strikes by Almen Abdi and Fernando Forestieri.
Abdi volleyed in a delightful 28th-minute opener - just 70 seconds after Keiren Westwood kept out McCormack’s tame penalty. The spot-kick incident was the major flashpoint in an enthralling, end-to-end showdown.
Ben Osborn pulled one back on the hour mark for Forest after a defensive mistake by Vincent Sasso but Wednesday produced a professional, disciplined away display to seal a fourth straight win and maintain their 100 per cent record in February.
The Owls’ style of play is not always pleasing on the eye compared to 12 months ago but boss Carlos Carvalhal has made them more streetwise.
Carvalhal said: “We are adults in the competition. We know what we must do when we are winning.”
Forest’s fans were left fuming after referee Andy Madley only booked Westwood for bringing down promising teenage striker Ben Brereton to concede a penalty.
You could understand their frustration but football’s rule-making body changed the laws last summer to ensure players are not penalised twice for the same offence.
Madley deemed that Westwood made an honest, if rash, attempt, to win the ball and felt a yellow was a sufficient punishment.
Westwood said: “It’s a penalty but with the new rules now it is not a sending-off. It was the correct decision. I’m sure the Forest fans won’t be happy with that, but it is the rules.
“The new rules give keepers an opportunity and it doesn’t kill the game and put teams down to 10 men. I’m going to say it is a good rule, aren’t I, because of the way things fell for me at Forest but it is a lot better.
“If it (the challenge) had been outside of the box, I think it would have been a red card.”
Westwood pointed out his Republic of Ireland teammate, Shane Duffy, was dismissed in their Euro 2016 defeat to France for upending Antoine Griezmann as the forward burst clean through on goal.
He said: “Duffy got done in the Euros for making a challenge just outside the box and he got sent off, but if it had been in the box he would have got a yellow.
“He made a genuine attempt to play the ball, like I did.”
Brazil had no arguments over the decision either.
“The rules say that he [Westwood] should not be sent off now, so there is no point in moaning about it,” he said.
After receiving treatment on his knee, Westwood picked himself up and denied McCormack from 12 yards.
“I’m delighted I saved it,” he said. “You never know where somebody is going to put it, but I did my homework and it paid off. I’m thankful that I managed to make the save.”
It has been a tough season for Abdi but his first goal in Wednesday colours was worth the wait.
He pounced on a Joe Worrall header and his sweet 25-yard right-foot volley flew past home debutant Jordan Smith.
Westwood said: “It dropped lovely and he put it into the top bin. Fair play to him as he has been out and not played many games. His fitness might not be there but he has been working hard and I thought he played great.”
Forestieri was unplayable at times. Forest couldn’t shackle him and his ninth goal of the season was a cracker.
With his back to goal in a crowded penalty area, Forestieri hooked the ball in. He celebrated wildly by jumping into the away end.
It clearly meant a lot to Forestieri and it was a big goal for the Owls in their promotion charge.