The 22-year-old central midfielder, touched the ball more times than any other player on the pitch, even though the away side edged possession with 52 per cent.
The Aston Villa loanee may have been booked during the contest, but he kept the club's performance ticking over, winning possession back for his team on more occasions than any of his Forest teammates.
He also contributed strongly defensively, contributing eight clearances, and blocking two goalbound shots.
It is three seasons ago since Gardner finished as the top English scorer in the inaugural NextGen Series, for Villa's under-19 team, competing against the best clubs from across Europe, including Barcelona and Inter Milan.
Since then his development has not progressed as he would have hoped, through a combination of bad luck with injury, and simply failing to gel into now former Villa manager Paul Lambert's system.
At Forest he has found a boss in Dougie Freedman who has helped him find his best form, and playing regularly as a starter.
With a contract at Villa only lasting until the summer of 2016, both club and player have a decision to make this summer. Current boss Tim Sherwood has a reputation for wanting to work with young talents and getting the best out of them, as he is currently showing with Jack Grealish.
Until then at least, Forest can continue to enjoy the impact Gardner can make, and hope he helps them overturn an eight point gap and reach the play-off spots.