Wasteful Reds left to settle with a point..

It wasn’t to be Billy’s night as Forest spurned opportunities..

Nottingham Forest – 0
Middlesbrough – 0

Oof.  A better game for sure – quite an open entertaining one, but a frustrating one as the Reds struggled to convert the chances they carved out.  The in-form visitors posed limited threat (although there were a couple of heart-in-mouth moments in the second half) which offers some degree of reassurance after the crash down to earth against Millwall at the weekend.

With Halford back from suspension Moloney was back on the bench with Greg slotting in at right back, and Guedioura was restored to the starting XI in place of injured Raddy Majewski, giving us this line-up to commence the match:

Camp
Halford    Ward    Collins    Harding
Gillett
Cohen    Guedioura    Reid
Cox    Sharp

Middlesbrough were first to have an opportunity, although an easy stop for Camp after McDonald turned and shot from the edge of the area.  That was pretty much the only goal threat the visitors offered in a first half that Forest enjoyed the lion’s share of.

Forest were getting good possession particularly through Simon Cox down the right hand side – it was he who set up fellow Irishman Reidy in the area who perhaps should’ve hit his effort first time, in taking a clumsy touch and lining up his shot he curled it just wide.

Sharp too spurned a couple of good opportunities in the box, air-hitting one and putting another just wide after good work from Reid and Guedioura.  The referee seemed adverse througout the match to shoves in the back, as Cohen was felled in the area by Bikey (he later ignored Halford being shoved over and gave Boro a corner, but he also ignored Forest shoves too).

Finally a spectacularly brave block from supposed once Forest target George Friend denied what looked like a goalbound effort from Guedioura.  The defender appeared to dive headlong to block the powerful effort with his face – pretty hardcore!  Billy Sharp spurned perhaps his best opportunity after more good work from Cox down the right.  He drilled a cross in which Sharp couldn’t get a good connection on, dragging his effort wide.

The final chance of the half fell to Guedioura, which despite Forest’s dominance was actually goalkeeper Steele’s only actual save of the half, diving to his right to stop the Algerian midfielder from sneaking his shot in the far post, giving Forest a corner (which inevitably led to nothing – we never score from corners!).

A fan took to the pitch at half time again for the return of the John Pye sponsored challenge.  He dispatched the 18 and 25 yard efforts with consummate ease but dragged his 40 yard effort wide.  The mood was good though, albeit frustrated at our wastefulness in front of goal which had kept a decent midweek following of just under 1,200 from the North East pretty quiet.

We started the second half as we seemed to spend the first – an early corner was put in and Sharp met it and put it just wide with a header.  Later Elliott Ward found himself on the left wing and his cross almost found itself dropping it to the goal, just to graze the crossbar and ending up over.

Boro had excellent chances of their own in this half too, a clever clipped pass from Leadbitter found McDonald who’d beaten the offside trap, he advanced on Camp who made an excellent stop, and the good work from Collins denied the rebound from finding its’ way into the net – instead giving the visitors a corner rather than the lead.

At the other end Billy Sharp was getting closer and closer to breaking the deadlock – he was strong enough to hold off Seb Hines and connected well with a shot from inside the area.  Certainly he appeared to have the beating of Steele at his near post, but the ball struck the post and out to safety.   Ward again was an unlikely nearly-scorer with an attempted overhead kick from a partially cleared corner.

Middlesbrough were carving out chances though – Lee Camp again was on his game to get to the ball ahead of the onrushing Lukas Jutkiewicz to gather the ball after a quick counter-attack from the visitors.  Camp took a boot to the head for his troubles too, but seemed non-too-fazed by the encounter and the striker was good enough to apologise too.

Sharp turned provider in the Boro area having struggled to break the deadlock himself, this time it was Reid who failed to connect with an excellent pass which found him around six yards outside the area.  Boro nearly nicked it again when McDonald unleashed a lob over the onrushing Camp but put it onto the roof of the net.

I’m not quite sure why Sean O’Driscoll opted to make a late triple change, although the timing was amusing -Harding had just had a frankly awful shot from long range only to be changed for Moloney.  At the same time the hard working Cox was taken off for Blackstock, and Lansbury was introduced for Reid.  It didn’t really make much odds, though – and we ended goalless.

A good point considering Boro’s recent form – but well, we were so wasteful it’s hard to not think that we really ought to have taken three points.  However, the performance had much recommend it.  Of course, Boro played their part by not being the kind of physical pressing team we’ve struggled with of late – but even so, reassuring.

Next up is a tough trip to Leicester.  Tough one to call, you never know – I might get around to doing a preview for that one if it doesn’t creep up on me like this game did!