Reds hit the big four-oh with a decent draw at Leicester..

Leicester City – 0
Nottingham Forest – 0

A draw ain’t too shabby really, considering, is it?  It gets us to the forty point mark which, whilst not by any stretch is a watermark of safety, it’s something that seemed a million miles away not all that long ago.  It means now with all teams around us having notched 39 games so far this season we know we’re now five points clear of the drop zone in our own right, we’re level on points with Millwall and just four behind Peterborough.

Steve Cotterill made some changes here, which isn’t really surprising – with McCleary nursing his hamstring in the last game he decided not to risk the danger-man at all, electing to play Chris Gunter further forward on the wing and popping Wootton in at right-back – otherwise the side was the same as we’ve seen lately – although Higginbotham deemed fit enough for a spot on the bench.

Wootton   Chambers    Lynch    Cunningham
Gunter    Moussi    Guedioura    Reid

Forest had the first of the opportunities, Dexter winning a header and getting it on target after just six minutes, but not with enough power to cause much difficulty to Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester goal.  The Reds did keep up the pressure early in the game though, Lynch was a whisker away from connecting with an Andy Reid free-kick, whilst Blackstock again had the opportunity to test Schmeichel but instead fired wide having shrugged St. Ledger off the ball.

With a little over ten minutes gone Guedioura was making a nuisance of himself, he picked up the ball on the edge of the area and switched to shoot with his left foot, bringing a decent save from the Foxes goalkeeper.  This pressure from Forest eventually waned and lulled the home side reluctantly into life – and eventually saw them start to dominate proceedings after the very positive start from the Reds.

Cunningham was on hand to prevent Lloyd Dyer hitting a volley on goal at the back post, and whilst Wootton was beaten in the air by Ben Marshall, Lee Camp was on hand to save the resulting header.  Camp was called into action again – making a decent save from a long range volley from Sol Bamba.

The Reds were able to force a brief break in the home side’s pressure on twenty minutes – Cunningham had a shot which was cleared, but only as far as Guedioura who struck his shot wide from the edge of the area.  As the half hour approached Leicester gained more momentum – a powerful drive from Nugent was tipped around the post, and moments later he had another close-range effort blocked as the Foxes laid siege to the Forest goal.

On 34 minutes Leicester really should’ve taken the lead – Bamba moved forward well with the ball and laid the ball in to Beckford, the in-form striker played a cracking ball to Dyer who guided his shot fractionally wide of Lee Camp’s post.  Booking number one came for Scott Wootton for fouling Dyer.  He responded well though, by getting forward and feeding Chris Gunter on the edge of the area, but the make-shift winger couldn’t get his shot on target.

The half ended with Danny Drinkwater picking up a booking for a foul on Raddy.  All in all, a decent start from the Reds and some stout defending.  Lee Camp had been called to action and had done well when this happened.  Plenty to be positive about, enough to remain a bit concerned about too.

The second half kicked off and struggled to match the pace of the first – the only real chance of note in the early stages fell to Drinkwater whose deflected effort ended up straight at Lee Camp.  After the hour the Reds broke down the left with Reid pulling the ball back to Majewski on the edge of the box, he got his left-footed effort on target, but it was also straight at Kasper Schmeichel who was able to gather the ball easily.

Clearly unhappy with the lack of action Leicester withdrew Nugent for Schlupp, and shortly after Cotterill too opted for a change, taking off Raddy and replacing him with Marcus Tudgay in a bid to get more attacking momentum.  Forest had further chances – on 75 minutes a Reid freekick was whipped in, finding a glancing header from Lynch that clipped the bar, however the defender was adjudged to have been offside.

Forest had another opportunity, a corner from Reid was cleared but the ball got back out to the Irishman who whipped in a decent delivery which was met by Luke Chambers who sadly couldn’t get his header anything other than handsomely over the bar.  Reid was withdrawn late in the game for Higginbotham as Forest opted to hold on to the point they’d earned, and duly succeeded in doing so.

Certainly not a classic, by any stretch of the imagination, but a potentially very valuable point for us.  With Portsmouth winning, and more importantly Doncaster picking up a point on the night, it makes it all the more useful to have snagged a point.  A tricky trip to Palace on Saturday is looming for us, whilst Doncaster host Birmingham on Friday, and Coventry travel to Hull on Saturday too.

These frankly half-unexpected points we’ve been picking up at Leeds and Leicester and at home against Brighton could prove absolutely invaluable.  Glancing down the fixture list doesn’t betray a whole lot of ‘easy points’ in this season of underachieving so we do need to keep picking up points we might not expect now our standards seem to have plummeted so readily.  Long may the surprises continue!