Nottingham Forest scored a late equaliser to earn a point and deny Middlesbrough the 3 points which would have taken them out of the relegation zone. The goal had Boro players up in arms as they appealed for a foul by goal scorer Lewis Grabban on goalkeeper Aynsley Pears. The ball spun up from a deflected Joe Lolley shot and Grabban positioned him between the goalkeeper and where the ball was dropping, it fell to Grabban inside the six-yard box and with his back to goal, the striker delivered a clever finish to guide a spinning ball behind him and into the Middlesbrough net.
Sabri Lamouchi made one change from the 1-0 victory at Cardiff City last week as the injured Tiago Silva was replaced in the starting line-up by Alfa Semedo while John Bostock took a place on the bench. Jonathan Woodgate made three changes to his Middlesbrough side as Marvin Johnson, Paddy McNair and Rudy Gestede came in for George Friend, George Saville, and Ashley Fletcher. Forest were below par for much of the match but did take the lead when Ryan Yates picked the ball up on the edge of the box and drilled a low strike beyond Pears and into the corner of the net. Forest did not push on from the winning position and their usually effective counter-attacking style away from home was not working. They were allowing Boro players far too much time on the ball which gave them the encouragement to get back into the game. They almost found a response within a minute of the goal but Hayden Coulson’s powerful drive flashed past Brice Samba’s left-hand post and Wing had a decent opportunity soon after but his shot was superbly blocked by Figueiredo.
Gestede, Forest’s nemesis for so many years, was the man to bring Boro level five minutes before the break. A free-kick to the back post was headed back across goal by Harold Moukoudi and Gestede arrived right on time to squeeze his header into the net from close range. This was Gestede’s 8th goal against Forest; the most he scored against any opposition.
It was not long after that Boro had turned the game completely on its head, Pears started a quick counter-attack with a smart throw with Forest committing players forward. They exploited the space well with Coulson finding Louis Wind whose shot spun off Brice Samba and into the net.
The second half started with Forest only creating half chances for Figueiredo and Grabban. Boro had won just one game all season after falling behind – on 21 occasions and perhaps that showed late on as Forest improved once they had brought on Joa Carvalho on 69 minutes. He slotted into the number 10 position and immediately made an impact flicking the ball to fellow substitute Diakhaby who couldn’t take advantage. Carvalho was getting on the ball to create and delivering dangerous set-pieces one of which he picked out Joe Lolley from a corner which lead to the equaliser. He was producing probably his best performance since his outstanding performance against Middlesbrough almost a year ago. With Tiago Silva out injured for a few weeks, Joa could finally get a run in the side in his preferred position.
Nottingham Forest head coach Sabri Lamouchi was honest and left frustrated at his side’s poor overall performance despite taking a point. Speaking after the match, he said:
“We can say it was a good point because it is two games away, four points from Cardiff and Middlesbrough so that is not bad.”I think we are happy with this point but just the point, because the way we played, the organisation, the mistakes, simple things, I am not totally satisfied. “We never controlled the game, we started better than them but we never made the difference with our quality. Tonight, we made a lot of mistakes, simple things; position, technically, I don’t know what was wrong.”If the fans are happy with a point, I am happy with a point but I am not happy with the way we played. We need more character, more personality. “We never asked to play quick, fast because when you do, you can make mistakes but it was easy mistakes to make to avoid. It was a bad game, a bad performance and I am a little bit upset because the expectation was bigger. When they want something important, you need an important performance and tonight the performance was wrong.”
Middlesbrough’s Jonathan Woodgate said: “I thought it was [a foul on Pears] to be honest with you. Nine out of 10 times that’s getting given. The referee in my opinion didn’t make the right decision, but it happens and we move on from it.
“I thought we deserved the win. The reaction, especially after they went ahead, was good. I’ve got to remain positive with my players and keep them going for the next game against Charlton. We’ve just got to win as many as we can now. We need to put a run together.”
Forest: Samba; Cash, Worrall, Figueiredo, Ribeiro; Watson (c), Yates (Bostock 78′); Lolley, Semedo (Diakhaby 56′), Ameobi (Carvalho 69′); Grabban
Subs not used: Muric, Jenkinson, Dawson, Walker
Goals: Yates 29′, Grabban 86′
Booking: Carvalho 90′
Middlesbrough: Pears; Howson (c), Shotton, Moukoudi, Johnson; Clayton, McNair, Wing (Saville 81′); Tavernier (Spence 87′), Coulson, Gestede
Subs not used: Mejias, Wood, Morrison, Nmecha, O’Neill
Goals: Gestede 40′, Wing 44′
Booking: Shotton 75′
Referee: Darren England
Attendance: 18,884 (1,100 away)
Man of the Match: Hayden Coulson