The long wait goes on for City who still haven’t won a league game at the City Ground since 1972
City fans leaving the match at full time today will scarcely believe that they only took one point from a game that they dominated for long spells as Forest grabbed an equaliser at the death.
Sven recalled Matt Mills, Neil Danns, John Pantsil and Darius Vassell for Sean St Ledger, Lloyd Dyer, Paul Gallagher and Lee Peltier and immediately City settled in to a confident start and knocked the ball around neatly with a new-look midfield formation as they probed the Forest defence and made all of the early running. Lee Camp in the Forest goal had to react sharply when Nugent powered in a header from Danns’ corner and just two minutes later it was City who took a deserved lead when Fernandes robbed Luke Chambers and raced clear to set up David Nugent with a simple side foot finish. The four thousand or so City fans went mental and doubly so just three minutes later in the 21st minute when Danns raced down the left, played a one-two with Nugent and saw his shot blocked on the line by Chambers but Fernandes reacted quickly and prodded in the rebound.
This was no more than City deserved and they continued to dominate play until half time and Forest’s only response was a woeful headed miss by Matt Derbyshire from a few yards out when he really should have done better from Gunter’s left wing cross.
Half time arrived with Forest fans booing their team off and City fans scarcely able to believe what they were seeing in complete contrast to the two performances in the previous seven days at home. The second half began with City still looking comfortable and seemingly happy to sit back and control the game but still able to threaten the Forest goal. Forest’s first attempt on target came in the 70th minute when Schmeichel beat away a fierce volley from Findley and then reacted well to keep out an angled effort from Findley again a few minutes later. Despite the improvement in Forest and an increased tempo to the game it was a calamitous few minutes that set them up for the big comeback. With just thirteen minutes left on the clock a low cross caused problems in the City area and the ball ran on to the hand of the grounded Matt Mills. It could scarcely be called deliberate handball but the ref pointed to the spot nevertheless and Schmeichel was booked for delaying the kick when he strolled out of his goal to examine the ball on the spot. McGugan duly planted the spot kick in to the bottom left hand corner of the net and as the Forest players converged on the ball Schmeichel grabbed it and launched it towards the halfway line. Referee Jon Moss decided that this was worthy of a second booking and Schmeichel was dismissed. This sending off would have been understandable if Schmeichel had booted the ball in to the stand but he actually threw it back to the place where it was needed to restart the game. It looked a daft thing to do but it didn’t actually waste any time.
Once things had calmed down then Chris Weale was between the sticks and a deep sense of foreboding hung over the away end as Forest summoned some self-belief and increased the pressure on a stretched City defence. The inevitable equaliser arrived in the third minute of stoppage time when Cohen floated a high ball in to the far post from the left wing and Weale failed to collect the cross and the ball went over his head to a grateful Boateng who prodded the ball home.
It was a harsh end to the game for City who had looked dominant and comfortable for most of the match and played some delightful football against a Forest side that looked ragged and lacking in confidence. It is easy to point the finger at the referee who made some poor decisions but City also contributed to their own downfall at the back and find themselves with only one win from the opening four league games. Today’s game provided some glimpses of improved form and some hope that maybe Sven is working out his best side and his best formation at last.
Nottm Forest: Camp, Moloney (Majewski 67), Morgan, Chambers (c), Gunter, Cohen, Greening, Boateng, McGugan, Derbyshire (Miller 46), McGoldrick (Findley 46).
Subs not used: Smith, Lynch.
City: Schmeichel, Pantsil, Mills (c), Bamba, Konchesky, Fernandes, Wellens, King (Abe 84), Danns (Weale 81), Nugent (Gallagher 64), Vassell.
Subs not used: St. Ledger, Schlupp.
Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)