Reds rob a point at Boro..

Middlesbrough – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

Phew.  That was a real ‘Get out of jail free’ moment – sort of.  An increasingly injury ravaged Reds competed reasonable well in the first half, but struggled in the second half – falling behind soon after the half time break, and relying on some goalkeeping heroics from Lee Camp to keep it to one goal before big Dele bagged an ill-deserved stoppage time equaliser.

Earnie was restored to the starting line-up, and McCleary’s impactful cameo at Millwall earned him a starting place – at the expense of Ando and Raddy, who both dropped to the bench.  McGoldrick retained his place, but this time with a partner.  Lynch’s weekend hobbling was deemed to not be a problem so he continued his covering of the leftback berth.  We looked like this:

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Lynch
McCleary    McKenna     McGugan     Cohen
Earnshaw    McGoldrick

The customary sea of red seats in Middlesbrough greeting the start of the match, just shy of a thousand Forest fans made the trip (yours truly had to miss this one due to work commitments 😦 ).  The home side were first to sting the palms of a ‘keeper – with Julio Arca firing goalward but denied by Camp’s parry and a clearance by Chambo.  Barry Robson had another go from 20 yards but again Camp was equal to it.

At the other end a fine cross by McGoldrick found Earnie on the move down the left – the Welshman beat his defender but the shot was tame, so no St. David’s Day celebration goal for Robbie.  McGoldrick created a decent opportunity for himself, getting past three men with a decent run but his shot too wasn’t able to beat Steele in the Middlesbrough goal.

Chambers is perhaps still rueing not doing better than spooning over from close range after Chris Cohen had put in a freekick from the right.  Then a calamity.  Joel Lynch started limping, and eventually hit the deck with less than forty minutes gone – to be replaced by Brendan Moloney who moved to rightback with Gunts switching sides.

Not the best of news – although post-match Billy hinted that Konchesky might well be fit for the weekend.  Let’s hope he really is, and we’re not just ‘making do.’  Boro put some pressure on after this, a corner fell for Taylor on the edge of the area who hit it goalward, only to be denied by a save from Camp at the expense of another corner to the home side.

Forest started to build possession and drag some half-chances out of somewhere, but reminiscent of the weekend’s trip to Millwall they weren’t able to capitalise on them.  Half time arrived with the score at stalemate.  Without something altering dramatically it wasn’t looking like our much anticipated game-in-hand was going to yield three points.

The start of the second half didn’t do much to dispel these fears – a home freekick after a foul on McDonald as struck well by Tony McMahon, but was kept out by Lee Camp with an excellent save.  The Forest number one was on his toes again to deny Leroy Lita from 20 yards out – but alas, despite his good form, he couldn’t prevent what was to come.

Forest gave away the ball in midfield, giving Middlesbrough the opportunity to break down the right.  Lita burst forward and found Robson, who put the ball across the box to Scott McDonald who made no mistake putting the ball into the roof of the net from just six yards out.  It wasn’t any more than they deserved really.

We continued to labour in the game, Billy introduced Paul Anderson for Lewis McGugan to try to change things around a bit – but it was the home side that continued to pile on the pressure.  Good work from Arca saw him lay the ball off for Taylor whose shot looked to be set to double the lead for Boro, but for further excellent work by Lee Camp in the Forest goal.

The final change by Billy was to introduce Dele Adebola with a little over twenty minutes remaining.  It didn’t stop the general ebb and flow of the game though – a rare foray forward found Earnie unable to twist his way around what looked like the whole Middlesbrough defence, not even mustering a shot.  It wasn’t looking good.

Meanwhile back at the busier end of the pitch Lee Camp was once again on hand to deny Taylor a goal from close range.  Lita had a pop from the edge of area but was blocked by Wes Morgan, and suddenly Forest actually started to look a little more lively – a freekick from Cohen found Anderson whose effort from six yards was blocked.

The home side continued to press though – an effort from Robson deflected off a defender and went out off the post. Nerve racking times.  At the other end Dele won a header and Earnie was close to stealing in before Steele could grab the ball – but grab it he did.  As the game entered stoppage time that bizarre swing in play started to occur and Forest made opportunities.

Adebola headed one straight into the arms of Steele, but a moment later he was in the right place at the right time.  The ball was lofted towards the edge of the area, Morgan won it and Dele was able to bundle it over the line to give Forest a pretty valuable but an ill-gotten point.  Frustrating, for sure – but as Billy says, there’s still twists and turns in this league to come.

Fingers crossed that over the next few days we get to hear some positive news on the injury front, or – dare I even suggest it – maybe even a loan signing or two?  It sounded post-match like Billy was considering headbutting Robin Chipperfield when he broached the subject of loan signings with the wee fella!