A crowd of 27,402 witnessed a 0-0 draw between Nottingham Forest and Doncaster Rovers at The City Ground this afternoon.
The Reds had several chances to take the lead in the first half but were unable to break the deadlock. Rovers produced a strong second half display and at one stage looked the likelier winners, but in the end both sides had to settle for a point.
Billy Davies made two changes to the side which drew at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night. Andy Reid, who came off the bench to claim an assist at The Riverside, was handed his first start since undergoing a hernia operation. Greg Halford was rested in midweek but came back into the side this afternoon, partnering Simon Cox up front. Jonathan Greening kept his place in midfield while Djamal Abdoun dropped to the bench. Former Forest loanees Billy Sharp and James Coppinger lined up in Rovers’ attack.
Any hopes of a high-tempo start for either side were quashed in the first minute when Paul Quinn suffered a head injury after a tangle with Halford. Quinn received treatment before returning to the field sporting a bandage, and The Reds took the game by the scruff of the neck soon afterwards.
Halford’s cross towards the back post found Cox, who nodded the ball down for Jamie Paterson. The midfielder couldn’t get there before the bounce and was unable to generate sufficient power to beat Rovers keeper Sam Johnstone, who held the ball comfortably.
Forest were controlling the early stages and it was from another cross they carved out their next opportunity. Reid’s raking ball out to the right was taken down by Gonzalo Jara, the Chilean drilling the ball dangerously into Doncaster’s box. Cox had made a run to the near post but was unable to make contact and it ran all the way through and away from danger.
Doncaster had offered very little threat in the opening stages and the home side pressed forward again on the quarter-hour mark. Reid dinked the ball delightfully into the area from a central position. Cox controlled it and spun away from goal to shield it from his marker before laying it off to Paterson once more. Again the former Walsall man couldn’t capitalise, sending the ball high over the bar with his left foot.
The visitors did test Karl Darlow five minutes later. Danny Collins had to leap high to head away Coppinger’s cross and Richie Wellens was first on the scene to pick up the scraps, volleying the ball towards Karl Darlow’s bottom-left corner. The keeper pushed it behind before he was forced to make a similar stop seconds later as Coppinger met the subsequent set piece.
Forest quickly reestablished their dominance, carving out another good opportunity as Cox led a quick break. He slid a lovely through ball to Halford who, running away from goal, could only bobble the ball straight at Johnstone with his weaker left foot.
Halford was involved again five minutes later when he was awarded a free-kick after being blocked off by Wellens 25 yards out. Reid curled the ball over the wall but Johnstone dived to his left and held onto it comfortably.
Danny Fox was the first name in referee Eddie Ilderton’s notebook for a foul on Wellens, and the former Leicester midfielder spun away from Majewski three minutes later to hand David Cotterill an opportunity to open the scoring. Cutting in from the left, Cotterill reached the edge of the area before dragging his effort wide of Darlow’s near post.
But Forest were straight back on the offensive and twice went close in quick succession on 35 minutes. Majewski found the ball at his feet on the right side of the area before seeing his shot blocked. The ball dropped for Cox who, after adjusting his body, struck the ball cleanly towards goal, bringing out a fine save by Johnstone. Donny somehow cleared the danger.
Two minutes later Paterson won a free kick on the corner of the box. After remonstrations that the foul had occurred inside the area, Reid’s pinpoint delivery was perfect for Lascelles. The young defender rose brilliantly but could only head the ball over the bar from six yards out.
The Reds had dominated the first half but had some defending to do before the break. They had Paterson to thank for an excellent block to deny Paul Keegan after the midfielder had latched onto Chris Brown’s knockdown on the edge of the area.
Rovers did get a shot away minutes later when Mark Duffy showed excellent determination to keep possession after he cut into the box from the right. He sent the ball over the bar with a snapshot.
Reid’s inswinging corner in the second of two added minutes gave Forest hope of taking the first-half lead their performance deserved, but they were left ruing Mr Ilderton’s decision not to award a penalty despite Collins appearing to be hauled down in the middle.
There were no changes at the break for either side and it was the visitors who began the brighter - James Husband and Wellens both sending the ball over Darlow’s bar within two minutes of the restart.
Forest’s response came on 54 minutes when Halford nodded the ball onto the roof of the net after Abdoulaye Meite had failed to clear Collins’ lofted pass into the area.
Paterson was next to have a go, seeing his shot blocked after he had cut in from the left, before Reid was replaced by Jamie Mackie.
Darius Henderson followed Mackie into the fray with 24 minutes to play, replacing Cox before Rovers pressed forward. Fox was tested twice in quick succession - firstly being twisted inside out by the nimble Duffy - the winger’s shot was easily saved - before positioning himself well to block Sharp’s close-range volley.
The Reds were struggling to make an impact and, after an attempt to play the ball out from the back broke down, Duffy was presented with another opportunity to open the scoring. Space opened up for him on the edge of the area but he could only bobble the ball harmlessly wide.
And the visitors were left to rue another missed opportunity 12 minutes from time when, after Cotterill produced a brilliant cross from the right, Sharp dived in to head the ball just wide wide.
Doncaster were growing in confidence more and more as the game developed and
created another opening as the game entered its final stages, Husband bursting into the box before drawing a good save from Darlow.
The Reds, who had perhaps been impacted by the absence of playmaker Reid, did manage to test Johnstone again with five minutes left. Greening’s lofted free-kick found Lascelles at the back post but the defender could only head the ball straight at the keeper amid a crowd of bodies.
Another half chance presented itself moments later when Fox’s knock-down looked like it would present Henderson with a chance to flick the ball into the net at the near post. A Doncaster defender did brilliantly to get in the way and put it out for a corner, from which Collins was unable to get enough power on his header to trouble Johnstone.
The visitors responded through Cotterill, who cut across his right-footed shot, sending the ball a couple of yards wide.
But with a minute of normal time remaining The Reds almost had a winner. Radoslaw Majewski’s piledriver moved dramatically around in the air with Johnstone rooted to his line, where he could only punch it away one-handed.
The final chance fell to Derbyshire, on for Halford, but he could only head the ball over from Fox’s corner.
Darlow, Jara, Lascelles, Collins, Fox, Greening, Reid (c) (Mackie 60'), Paterson, Majewski, Halford (Derbyshire 73'), Cox (Henderson 66')
Subs not used: De Vries, Gomis, Moussi, Abdoun
Booking: Fox 29'
Johnstone, Quinn, Husband, Duffy, Brown, Sharp, Cotterill, Keegan, Wellens (c), Meite, Coppinger
Subs: Maxted, Furman, McCullough, Fernandez, Robinson, Stevens, Bowery
Bookings: Brown 68', Duffy 85', Johnstone 90'
Referee: Eddie Ilderton
Attendance: 27,402 (Away: 1,313)
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