Nottingham Forest stretched their unbeaten run to 15 matches with a 1-1 draw at Blackpool this afternoon.
Jamaal Lascelles’ first-ever league goal gave The Reds the lead on the stroke of half-time but Andy Keogh struck with four minutes to go to rob Forest of all three points on a wet and windy afternoon at Bloomfield Road.
Billy Davies made five changes to the side that beat Preston in the FA Cup on Wednesday night. Karl Darlow, Andy Reid and Danny Fox came back into the team in place of Dorus de Vries, Djamal Abdoun and Dan Harding while there were starts for Jack Hobbs and Rafik Djebbour as the pair replaced Danny Collins and Matt Derbyshire.
Wearing their new white and blue kit, Forest carved out the first clear-cut chance on goal. Gonzalo Jara floated an inch-perfect ball over the top of the Blackpool defence which Reid struck superbly with an over-the-shoulder volley. Unfortunately for the Irishman the strike drifted wide of Matt Gilks’ far post.
The Reds had made the better start on a brisk afternoon in Lancashire and they were regularly testing Gilks from distance. Fox was next to try his luck as he picked the ball up on halfway and sprinted at the home defence but could only fire a low shot wide of the target.
Blackpool were still a threat at the other end with David Perkins and Faris Haroun both flashing crosses across the face of goal before Gary MacKenzie headed narrowly wide after latching onto Jack Robinson’s long throw.
Haroun was proving difficult for Fox to handle down the right-hand channel and after the tricky winger had skipped away again, Darlow had to be alert at his near post to palm away a low shot from the Belgian.
The home side had grown well into the game by the half-hour mark and could have been ahead. Tony McMahon grabbed possession from a short corner but drilled his shot along the floor of a crowded penalty area and out for a goal-kick.
Both sides appeared deadlocked as half-time approached but as the fourth official’s board went up, Forest had the lead. Reid curled in a devilish free-kick from the left and Lascelles was on hand to turn the ball home from inside the area as The Reds stole a slender lead at the interval.
There were no changes for either side at the break and Forest were able to pick up where they left off. Blackpool had to scramble back to clear Jack Hobbs’ header off the line from Reid’s ball in before Simon Cox fired wide.
Barry Ferguson’s side weren’t about to lie down though and fought back soon after. Stephen Dobbie, so often The Reds’ nemesis, struck a low effort which Darlow got down well to turn around the post.
The Forest stopper was again called into action five minutes later as Keogh, on loan at Bloomfield Road from Millwall, sent in a shot which bounced awkwardly in front of Darlow but he was again equal to it with a smart save.
Sensing the tide could be turning against his side, Billy Davies made a double change. Midweek goalscorer Darius Henderson replaced Djebbour while Jamie Paterson was brought on for Jamie Mackie.
Blackpool responded by making all three substitutions at once as Haroun, Angel Martinez and Steve Davies were replaced by David Goodwillie, Elliot Grandin and Andy Halliday.
And the home side’s changes almost made an instant impact. McMahon produced a beautiful delivery into the penalty area which Goodwillie headed inches wide of the far post as Darlow scrambled to get across.
As Blackpool attacked at one end, Forest were proving dangerous on the counter. Henderson escaped down the right-hand channel and swung a low ball across the face of goal. Cox met it six yards out but couldn’t make full contact and the opportunity was gone.
The game was becoming frantic and the home side were desperate for an equaliser. It looked like it could come when Keogh was gifted an age on the ball outside the penalty area but Lascelles got across well to block the striker’s goal-bound effort.
Billy Davies made his final change with nine minutes to play as Cox was replaced by Matt Derbyshire with Forest aiming to hold onto their lead.
Yet it wasn’t to be as the home levelled the scored with four minutes left on the clock. Jack Robinson pinched possession on the halfway line and produced an excellent cross to the far post where Keogh was able to head into the far corner.
And Keogh’s effort was to be the last action of the game as the two sides shared the spoils at the end of an entertaining contest on the Lancashire coast.
Forest: Darlow, Halford, Lascelles, Hobbs, Fox, Moussi, Jara, Reid (c), Mackie (Paterson 64'), Cox (Derbyshire 81'), Djebbour (Henderson 64')
Subs not used: De Vries, Harding, Collins, Majewski
Scorer: Lascelles 45'
Blackpool: Gilks, McMahon, Broadfoot, MacKenzie, Robinson, Angel (Grandin 66'), Perkins, Haroun (Halliday 67'), Dobbie, Keogh, Davies (Goodwillie 66')
Subs not used: Cathcart, Basham, Chopra, Tyson
Scorer: Keogh 86'
Referee: Carl Boyeson