Ten-man Nottingham Forest fell to their first home defeat since the final day of last season against Blackpool this afternoon.
The Reds had dominated the match until Djamal Abdoun was red-carded on 35 minutes for tugging back former Notts County man Neal Bishop in the area. Karl Darlow made a tremendous double save to keep the scores level.
And despite performing admirably in the second period, Stephen Dobbie’s neat finish left Forest ruing an injury-time goal for the second successive home match as The Tangerines claimed a 1-0 victory.
Billy Davies made four changes to the team which lost at Yeovil last weekend. New loan signing David Vaughan was handed a debut against his former club and Henri Lansbury came straight back into the side after serving a one-match suspension.
Jamie Mackie and Abdoun were also given starts as another ex-Tangerine Andy Reid, Simon Cox and Nathaniel Chalobah dropped to the bench. Radi Majewski was absent from the squad altogether.
Forest, kicking towards The Trent End in the first half, made all the early running and their first two half-chances came via Abdoun.
After receiving the ball from Gonzalo Jara, who kept his place in midfield, the Algerian whipped in a low delivery from the left. Mackie couldn’t sort his feet out at the back post and the ball went all the way out.
Abdoun made further progress down the left three minutes later as he raced on to Darius Henderson’s flick-on. He slightly overhit his cross and it evaded everyone in the middle.
The visitors’ first chance came on 13 minutes in the form of a set-piece. Ince laid it off for Dobbie, whose effort from 30 yards stayed low. The ball appeared to deviate on its way through to Darlow, who adjusted well to block with his feet.
The visitors were enjoying a decent spell and called Forest’s defenders into action for the first time of note on 16 minutes as Jack Hobbs had to come across to block Ricardo Fuller’s effort at the near post.
And Jamaal Lascelles had to slide in on Kirk Broadfoot six minutes later after Jara had failed to clear properly.
Forest soon regained the ascendancy however and it was Lascelles who gained the next sight of goal. Abdoun’s corner found his head, but the defender miscued and his header went harmlessly wide.
The Reds then warmed the hands of Matt Gilks for the first time. Lansbury linked up well with Mackie on the edge of the area, but the ex-Arsenal man’s hooked shot never looked a threat to The Tangerines’ goal.
The fact that that was Gilks’ first proper test wasn’t a fair reflection on the home side’s dominance, and on 30 minutes Forest felt aggrieved as referee Michael Naylor waved away strong claims for a penalty.
Lansbury burst into the area and Abdoun took over possession, drawing a good save from Gilks. The ball spilled to Henderson, who wrong-footed the keeper before being shoved to the floor by Angel Martinez. The referee was unmoved.
Undeterred, Mackie cut in from the left shortly afterwards and swept an effort a couple of yards wide from the edge of the area.
Forest were completely dominating proceedings but, as in recent matches, their good work hadn’t been rewarded in the form of goals.
And, after Abdoun had decided to take a touch in his own area, allowing Neal Bishop to nip around and bear down on goal, the former Olympiacos man felt compelled to tug him back, conceding a penalty and earning a straight red card in the process.
An opening goal for the visitors would have been more than a little harsh, so it was with a sense of justice that Darlow dived to his right to save Ince’s penalty before reacting brilliantly to block the follow-up at his near post.
The incident had noticably changed the flow of the game, however, and Ince, making his 100th Blackpool appearance, was keen to make amends for his earlier miss. He raced into the area and flicked an effort beyond the onrushing Darlow. Jara was there to block and Fuller was crowded out as he picked up the pieces.
Determined not to let the balance of play swing in the visitors’ favour before the break, Henderson did brilliantly to outmuscle his marker in midfield before sprinting towards Blackpool’s box. He was ushered onto his left and his shot was blocked, but the ball rolled neatly towards Chris Cohen. The captain struck his low effort sweetly and Gilks did well to tip it wide at his post.
The break allowed both teams to regroup in anticipation of second half which was likely to form a very different pattern to the first.
Blackpool appeared to be enjoying the man advantage as they took control of possession in the early stages of the half. Ince half-volleyed the ball into the turf and through a crowd of bodies to catch an unsighted Darlow in a state of semi-surprise on 52 minutes, but the keeper held on comfortably.
Bishop was booked on 58 minutes for a trip on Mackie, and Greg Halford replaced Henderson up front at the subsequent stoppage.
And it was the substitute’s barnstorming run which heralded Forest’s first chance of the half. Halford’s initial through ball for Jara was blocked, but the Chilean picked it up at the second attempt, steadied himself and fired over from the edge of the area.
It was Halford’s turn to try his luck at goal next. He didn’t steady himself properly after receiving the ball from Eric Lichaj, who had run the ball brilliantly into Blackpool territory, and his effort sailed over.
Forest had adapted well by this stage and were supplementing some sturdy defensive work with some promising forward movement and a terrific work ethic. Cohen led by example on 71 minutes, battling brilliantly with Bishop to win a corner. Lansbury’s delivery was superb but Forest were unable to make contact and it curled all the way out for a goal kick.
The visitors looked bereft of ideas and a draw looked the most likely outcome with ten minutes to play.
Vaughan was given a standing ovation when he was replaced by Reid as time ebbed away.
And as play resumed Mackie jinked brilliantly down the right before cutting inside and scuffing a left-footed effort over the bar.
It was easy to forget that Forest were down to ten men by this stage, but the visitors did provide a warning of their threat with three minutes to go as Ince scuffed wide after a frantic passage of play in the area.
Mackie, who had produced a tireless display, was the next to receive a warm reception from the City Ground faithful as Jamie Paterson replaced him with a minute of normal time remaining.
But the visitors dealt the cruelest of blows in the first of four added minutes as the ball fell to Dobbie’s feet in the area, allowing the midfielder to sweep the winner beyond Darlow and into the bottom corner.
They could have doubled their lead when Darlow found himself stranded. Ince curled wide from a narrow angle and the match ended 1-0.
Darlow, Lichaj, Hobbs, Lascelles, Cohen (c), Jara, Lansbury, Vaughan (Reid 84'), Abdoun, Mackie (Paterson 90'), Henderson (Halford 59')
Subs not used: De Vries, Chalobah, Derbyshire, Cox
Sent off: Abdoun 35'
Gilks, Orr (Tyson 69'), Broadfoot, MacKenzie (c), Blackett, Bishop, Angel (Davies 76'), Gosling, Dobbie, Ince, Fuller (Chopra 77')
Subs not used: Warner, Grant, Barkhuizen, Zeegelaar
Bookings: Bishop 58', Angel 70'
Referee: Michael Naylor
Attendance: 21,581 (Away: 910)
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