Martin O'Neill scored two goals before being substituted by his manager Brian Clough.
Forest had won the league in the previous season, seven points clear of Liverpool and having been undefeated at home at the City Ground throughout the season. Despite finishing 18th in the league the previous season, Ipswich had beaten Arsenal at Wembley in the FA Cup final three months earlier, the only goal coming from Roger Osborne midway through the second half of the match.
Forest had lost in their only previous Charity Shield final in 1959, beaten 3–1 by Wolves; Ipswich had played in the 1962 FA Charity Shield, a game in which they also conceded five goals, that time against 1962 FA Cup final winners Tottenham Hotspur. As of 2011, neither Ipswich Town nor Nottingham Forest have played in a Charity Shield match since 1978.
Ipswich were playing without FA Cup winners and international central defenders Kevin Beattie and Allan Hunter, nicknamed Bacon and Eggs by Bobby Robson. On top of this, Ipswich's Tommy Parkin was called upon to make his full professional debut at Wembley. Despite this, Ipswich had the better of the opening half, testing England international goalkeeper Peter Shilton who made two "superhuman" saves. However, Martin O'Neill scored in the tenth minute after a defensive error in their own area, and Robertson doubled Forest's lead 17 minutes later, sending Forest into half-time with a 2–0 lead.
The second half saw Forest increase their lead, with Lloyd scoring a third before O'Neill volleyed in his team's fourth, and his second, from a Robertson cross. O'Neill was substituted by Forest manager Brian Clough before he could complete his hat-trick. Just three minutes before full-time, Robertson scored Forest's fifth and final goal to no reply, a winning margin that, as of 2011, remains unbeaten.
Nottingham Forest went on to finish as First Division runners-up in the 1978–79 season, once again undefeated at home, finishing eight points behind Liverpool. Ipswich finished sixth in the division.