Nottingham Forest saw out the final minutes of this afternoon’s match at Birmingham City with ten men to claim a 0-0 draw.
Darius Henderson was harshly red-carded for a foul on Birmingham’s Paul Robinson on 82 minutes, but The Reds stood firm to earn the point their performance deserved.
Billy Davies made one change to the side which drew with Ipswich last weekend. David Vaughan, who had been missing since November with a hamstring injury he sustained on international duty with Wales, replaced Nathaniel Chalobah. The Chelsea loanee took his place on the bench.
Forest claimed the first shot of the day through Djamal Abdoun on ten minutes. After a patient spell of Reds possession the Algerian cut in from the right and sent a shot towards goal from just outside the area. He didn’t catch it cleanly and it was easily held by Darren Randolph.
Abdoun was involved at the other end a minute later as the hosts had their first effort of the afternoon. The winger’s defensive header dropped at the feet of Tom Adeyemi, who sent a piledriver inches wide of Karl Darlow’s far post from 20 yards.
Both sides were jostling for dominance in the early exchanges but it was the visitors who carved out the first clear chance of the match.
Andy Reid played a clever one-two with Jamie Mackie in the area and, with more time than he probably realised, the Irishman blasted over the angle between post and crossbar.
The match was being played out in front of Birmingham’s biggest gate of the season and many of those of a blue persuasion thought their side had taken the lead on 21 minutes. Darlow failed to deal with a lofted ball into the area and it bounced up for Adeyemi in the area. His header dropped agonisingly over the bar at the same moment a scrambling Jamaal Lascelles found himself tangled up in the back of the net, creating the illusion that the former Oldham midfielder’s effort had broken the deadlock.
The hosts were growing into the game and on 27 minutes they were left to rue a good save from Darlow. After Dan Harding had been booked for a foul on Chris Burke, Jesse Lingard’s inswinger found Kyle Bartley at the back post. The keeper spread himself well to block. It was something of an improvised save from Darlow, but his stop from Burke’s 25-yarder five minutes later was nothing short of textbook.
The Scotsman’s effort curled ominously towards goal, only for Darlow to dive to his right and send it over the bar with a strong palm.
Birmingham were in the ascendancy and on 36 minutes should have had the lead courtesy of Nikola Zigic. Burke’s cross from the right was perfect for the 6ft.8in former Valencia striker, but he inexplicably failed to make contact with it at the near post. The Serb did get his head to Burke’s corner in first-half injury time, but his effort sailed harmlessly over.
Eric Lichaj replaced Harding in a like for like swap at the break and, after a purposeful move down the left soon after the restart, Forest won a corner. Reid took it short with Henri Lansbury before standing up an expert cross for Halford at the back post. The former Portsmouth man powered his header towards goal only for Zigic to clear it off the line.
The Reds had started the second half brightly, restricting their hosts and carving out another opportunity just after the hour. Abdoun took the ball down the left before driving a low cross into the area. Mackie couldn’t quite wrap his foot around the ball and the opportunity was gone.
It came as no surprise when The Blues’ first chance of the second half came courtesy of a Burke cross. You could sense the anticipation around St Andrew’s as Zigic rose at the back post to meet it, but the striker could only nod over.
The Reds boss then opted to use all of his substitutes as Vaughan made way for Chalobah on 69 minutes, before Henderson replaced Abdoun with just over quarter of an hour to play.
Chances were proving hard to come by for both sides as time wore on, a fact typified by Lansbury’s cheeky attempt to hand the visitors the lead with 11 minutes to play. Randolph held the ball in his right hand as he wound up to clear upfield and the former Arsenal man stooped to head it out of his hands before turning it into the empty net. If referee Robert Madley was sweating over his decision to disallow it, he had infinitely more to deal with minutes later.
After making strides into Birmingham territory with eight minutes of normal time remaining, Henderson stretched to beat Paul Robinson to the loose ball. Robinson and his teammates reacted furiously and a melee involving both sets of players ensued. Replays showed Henderson’s challenge was one-footed with no studs showing but, after consulting his linesman, Madley showed Henderson a straight red card and booked Reid and Robinson for their respective parts in the aftermath.
And it was to conclude as a story of missed headers for City as, yet again, Zigic nodded wide before Adeyemi glanced beyond the post in the final of four added minutes.
Forest: Darlow, Halford, Lascelles, Hobbs, Harding (Lichaj 46'), Lansbury, Vaughan (Chalobah 69'), Mackie, Reid (c), Abdoun (Henderson 74'), Cox
Subs not used: De Vries, Jara, Paterson, Derbyshire
Bookings: Harding 27', Reid 83'
Sent off: Henderson 82'
Birmingham: Randolph, Caddis, Burn, Bartley, Robinson (c), Adeyemi, Lee; Burke, Lingard (Mclean 80'), Shinnie (Gray 60'), Zigic
Subs not used: Doyle, Mullins, Reilly, Brown, Novak
Bookings: Bartley 58', Robinson 83', Randolph 87', Lee 90'
Referee: Robert Madley
Attendance: 23,497 (Away: 3,621)