Ipswich Town held Nottingham Forest to a 0-0 draw at The City Ground this afternoon.
Simon Cox had scored four in five going into the match and, on an afternoon which threw up a number of chances for the hosts, he came closest; hitting the bar in the first half and drawing a superb point-blank save from Dean Gerken after the break.
But there was to be no breakthrough for The Reds despite their dominance.
Billy Davies made one change to the side that won at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend. Gonzalo Jara, who had been struggling with a knock, had to settle for a place on the bench as Nathaniel Chalobah replaced him in the starting line-up.
There had been doubts over the fitness of Greg Halford but he retook his place at right back, while Darius Henderson, who had also been struggling with injury, and Eric Lichaj were named among the substitutes.
Ipswich Town boasted three former Reds in their squad as David McGoldrick, Luke Chambers and Paul Anderson all made their City Ground return.
After a quiet start it was the hosts who offered the first shot on target. Djamal Abdoun’s dangerous cross from the left was half-cleared but the ball dropped for Chalobah. The on-loan Chelsea midfielder shifted onto his right before curling straight at Gerken from just outside the ‘D’.
The visitors responded first through Daryl Murphy, whose header from inside the area dropped wide of Darlow’s post, before Frank Nouble’s effort from range moved dangerously through the air. Dan Harding had to clear for a corner after Darlow had made the block. Simon Cox, who had lunged in on Nouble as he raced towards goal, was then retrospectively booked.
Both sides were jostling for dominance, but it was Forest who took a firm grasp of proceedings after the 15-minute mark.
After Abdoun had seen a curling effort pushed away by Gerken, a minute later Henri Lansbury got sufficient whip on his ball over the top to reach Cox. The in-form striker flicked it back over his shoulder and into the path of Reid who lashed his first-time effort wide.
And minutes later came a moment of controversy as Cox was denied a penalty for the second time in as many matches. He raced onto Abdoun’s through ball, knocked it out of Gerken’s reach and went down as the goalkeeper sprawled at his feet. Referee Scott Mathieson was unmoved, much to the displeasure of the home crowd.
Abdoun was proving to be a thorn in Ipswich’s side in the early stages. On 21 minutes, his low cross found Cox in the box but the striker’s shot was blocked. It spilled to Jamie Mackie on the edge of the area and his piledriver was saved by Gerken.
The hosts’ pressure was incessant and on 24 minutes they came within inches of taking the lead. Abdoun took a short corner with Chalobah before whipping in a superb cross. Cox got his head to it but Gerken got a crucial touch to turn it onto the bar.
The Reds remained very much in the ascendancy for the remainder of the half but it was Ipswich who claimed the final shot before the break as, in the second of two added minutes, McGoldrick took the ball across the edge of the box before sending a left-footed effort towards goal. The striker had stretched to control his shot and it was comfortably dealt with by Darlow.
Both sides emerged for the second half unchanged and Forest went close within five minutes of the restart. After Lansbury had been felled in midfield, Reid’s in-swinging free-kick soared towards Chalobah at the back post. The 19 year old couldn’t generate enough contact on his header and the ball went harmlessly wide for a goal kick.
Gerken was a mere spectator on that occasion but was soon called into action. Jack Hobbs did well to nod the ball down for Abdoun, whose neat pass rolled Reid into space down the left. The Irishman sent a delightful low cross into the area which Cox met at full speed at the back post. Gerken did brilliantly to block what looked like a certain goal. Lansbury and Aaron Cresswell were both booked after clashing as Ipswich broke.
Forest kept up their pressure and sent another header wide on 63 minutes. Ipswich’s Christophe Berra had done well to slide in to halt Cox in the area and, from Abdoun’s resultant corner, Halford nodded just past the post under pressure.
The game then hit a slight lull and the Forest boss opted for a change, replacing Mackie with Henderson on 68 minutes. The striker could only nod Lansbury’s free-kick tamely at Gerken seven minutes later.
Ipswich had offered very little in the final third all match and it was courtesy of an unexpected source that they gave Darlow his first major test of the second half. Berra found himself up front, worked some space for himself on the edge of the area and drilled low towards goal. Darlow made a strong save with his feet.
Keen to quash any hint of pressure from the visitors, Forest won a free-kick at the other end as Chambers hauled down Abdoun. The Algerian picked himself up and whipped the free-kick into the middle for Halford, who headed over.
The Reds made their second change of the afternoon with four minutes to play as Matt Derbyshire replaced Abdoun, before Jara came on for Chalobah and Tyrone Mings replaced McGoldrick with a minute of normal time to go.
But the substitutes did nothing to spur either side on and, frustratingly for Forest, the match ended 0-0.
Darlow, Halford, Lascelles, Hobbs, Harding, Chalobah (Jara 90'), Lansbury, Reid (c), Abdoun (Derbyshire 87'), Mackie (Henderson 68'), Cox
Subs not used: De Vries, Lichaj, Paterson, Majewski
Bookings: Cox 14', Lansbury 60'
Gerken, Chambers (c), Berra, Smith, Cresswell, Skuse, Hyam, Tunnicliffe, Murphy, Nouble, McGoldrick (Mings 90')
Subs not used: Loach, Tabb, Hunt, Edwards, Anderson, Graham
Booking: Cresswell 60'
Referee: Scott Mathieson
Attendance: 20,966 (Away: 1,144)