Mick McCarthy expressed his pride in battling Ipswich while bemoaning their luck as the visitors' nine men came so close to defying the odds against promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest.

McCarthy's men eventually fell to an 84th-minute strike from substitute Lewis McGugan, which took a huge deflection to epitomise a night in which nothing seemed to have go right for the Tractor Boys.

After Lee Martin was denied a penalty - referee David Webb decreeing the contact had come outside of the box - the winger hit out at Henri Lansbury following a foul and was sent off five minutes before the break.

The Tractor Boys, chasing their third straight clean sheet, had proved difficult to break down but they were reduced to nine men when Richard Stearman was given a second yellow card for catching Andy Reid in the face with his arm, and, from that point on, a Forest winner always looked inevitable.

Despite the defeat, McCarthy said of his side: "They're brilliant, they're a great bunch, they really are fabulous. I was really proud of the way they went about their job. We were unlucky not to hold out. It's a deflection that's cost us - they didn't look like they were going to get it any other way."

On the two dismissals, the former Ireland manager added: "Lee Martin - no arguments about that. As he (Lansbury) has tackled him, he's knelt him, he's stood on him but, still, it's the one who retaliates always gets it (the red card).

"Second one - I don't know. At the time I thought he was going to book him, then I've just looked at it and he just seems to have shoved him (Reid) off the pitch. If somebody shows me an angle where he's hit him in the face then he deserves it, but I can't see that.

"The first one I've no arguments with and, maybe, Stears just doing it having been booked already was a bit reckless on his part."

While Forest boss Billy Davies refused to comment on either sending off or Martin's first-half penalty shout, he did acknowledge fortune favoured his in-form side. The two-time European Cup winners put six past Huddersfield on their own patch a fortnight ago, but it was a different type of performance which yielded the three points.

"We got a break. It was a frustrating night," said Davies, who has now guided his team to 13 points from a possible 15 since returning to The City Ground.