Nottingham Forest secured a valuable point with a 1-1 draw at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road this afternoon.
Former Tractor Boys loanee Danny Collins headed Forest into a fourth-minute lead in a first half which could have heralded more goals for the visitors, but a strong display from Ipswich after the break saw them equalise through Daryl Murphy.
Gary Brazil made four changes to the side which faced Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night. Midfielder Ben Osborn was handed his senior debut, while there was also room in the starting line-up for Lee Peltier following the completion of his loan move from Leeds United. He slotted into midfield as Gonzalo Jara reverted to right-back. Jamie Paterson and Radoslaw Majewski also came into the side, while young midfielder Jack Blake and Irish winger Stephen McLaughlin were named among the substitutes.
Lining up in a diamond formation with Jamie Mackie and Jamie Paterson spearheading the attack and Greg Halford alongside Danny Collins in the absence of the suspended Jamaal Lascelles, Forest started the game brightly and had the lead on four minutes.
Paterson won a corner and Danny Fox swung the ball dangerously into the penalty area, where Collins leapt highest to head the ball brilliantly past Dean Gerken into the top-right corner of the net.
Former Red Luke Chambers had a chance to equalise after an Ipswich corner resulted in a melee in the Forest’s area, but the full-back saw his shot blocked.
Another half-chance for the hosts followed shortly afterwards, Jonny Williams running onto Cole Skuse’s dinked ball over the top. The midfielder had no option but to meet it on the full, nodding the ball harmlessly over Karl Darlow’s crossbar.
Forest’s next chance saw Fox and Collins link up once more. The latter was sandwiched between two Town defenders as he attempted to bring Fox’s free-kick under control in the area. He managed to wrap his foot around the ball, directing it towards goal and forcing Gerken to dive to his left to make the save.
A minute later The Reds had another chance, this time on the counter-attack. Mackie flicked the ball ahead of Paterson and the former Walsall man raced towards goal. His marker held him up on the edge of the area and Skuse blocked his attempted pass to Majewski, alleviating the danger.
Paterson did get a shot away on 24 minutes however, cutting in from the left and curling the ball low towards the far corner. An Ipswich defender managed to get a crucial touch to divert it inches wide of the post.
And yet another opportunity presented itself for the visitors on 31 minutes. Forest pounced on some casual play from the hosts in their own final third, Mackie laying the ball off for Majewski in the area. The Pole’s effort lacked conviction and once again the ball was diverted out for a corner.
The first substitution of the match followed shortly afterwards as another former Forest man Paul Anderson, who had earlier drawn a booking from Halford, made way for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.
But the big striker’s introduction did nothing to settle an edgy-looking Town side, who again dallied in possession on 36 minutes allowing Paterson to slide the ball through to Mackie, whose shot was brilliantly saved by the right foot of Gerken.
The hosts offered the final threat of the half, albeit a minor one, Stephen Hunt dipping the ball over the bar from 25 yards, before referee Andrew Madley called time on a half which could easily have ended with Forest three or four goals to the good.
Tractor Boys boss Mick McCarthy made another substitution at the break, Frank Nouble replacing Hunt, while Forest reemerged unchanged.
Ipswich came out for the second half with renewed vigour and took the game to their opponents straight from the restart. A second Jara foul in quick succession resulted in a booking for the Chilean and a free-kick in a dangerous crossing position. Town swept the ball into the area and Darlow was forced into making a strong save after Ebanks-Blake powered the ball towards goal with his head.
After a while Forest were able to slow the tempo and carve out a chance of their own, Mackie curling the ball low towards the far post from the left-hand corner of the box. Gerken dived to his left and held onto it at the second attempt.
Other than Ebanks-Blake’s header earlier in the half Ipswich had struggled to create clear-cut opportunities, and another half-chance passed them by when Skuse fired the ball straight at Darlow from long range after Jara’s clearance had been blocked.
Ipswich did come close five minutes later however, Daryl Murphy picking the ball up with time and space on his side 20 yards out. He curled the ball towards the top-left corner but Darlow did brilliantly to turn it behind with an acrobatic stop.
The hosts were back in control and with 17 minutes to play had another chance to level the scores. Murphy wriggled his way out of trouble and Fox felt compelled to pull the striker back as he made strides towards Forest’s area. The full-back went into the book but there was to be no further punishment, Aaron Cresswell curling the ball straight at Darlow with the subsequent free-kick.
Ipswich’s pressure finally told on 78 minutes, however. Nouble had made a terrific impact down the left and it was from his cross that Murphy was able to power the ball past Darlow with his head from six yards.
Keen to reassert themselves on proceedings Forest attacked, and for a second it looked like Collins would have a chance to score his second of the afternoon. The Reds took a quick free-kick which resulted in Majewski crossing the ball teasingly into the area. A Town defender managed to get the tiniest contact on it with his head to divert it away from Collins who was waiting menacingly at the back post.
Paterson was next to have a go, his cross-cum-shot from the right going just over the bar. The forward was furious the officials had failed to spot an apparent deflection off an Ipswich man.
And The Reds went close again when Matt Derbyshire, who had moments earlier replaced Majewski, headed the ball just wide from Fox’s corner.
The visitors then had their hearts in their mouths twice as injury time loomed. First a Collins mistake gifted the ball to Murphy deep in Forest territory, but Halford stood firm to halt him. Then a Nouble thunderbolt was pushed away well by Darlow as four minutes of added time were indicated.
Chambers headed the ball comfortably wide of Darlow’s post in the second of those minutes, the final opportunity of an entertaining match at Portman Road.
Forest: Darlow, Jara, Halford, Collins(c), Fox, Greening, Peltier, Osborn, Majewski (Derbyshire 86'), Paterson, Mackie
Subs: de Vries, Harding, Tudgay, McLaughlin, Cox, Blake
Scorer: Collins 4'
Bookings: Halford 26', Jara 47'
Ipswich: Gerken, Cresswell, Chambers(c), Smith, Berra, Skuse, Murphy, Anderson (Ebanks-Blake 35'), Hunt, Hyam, Williams (Green 85')
Subs not used: Loach, Mings, Tabb, Richardson, Nouble
Scorer: Murphy 78'
Booking: Williams 79'
Referee: Andrew Madley