Nottingham Forest preserved their unbeaten start to the season and their top-of-the table status with a 0-0 draw at Millwall this afternoon.
Clear-cut chances were hard to come by for both sides on a scrappy afternoon in the capital. Britt Assombalonga went closest for The Reds when his header was saved on the line, before the striker squandered an excellent opportunity to win the match in stoppage time after excellent play by substitute Jamie Paterson.
Stuart Pearce made two changes to the side that beat Fulham on Wednesday night. Ben Osborn and Danny Fox had to settle for a place on the bench as Kelvin Wilson and David Vaughan came in to make their first starts of the 2014-15 campaign.
Forest made a bright start to the game with Michail Antonio looking in threatening mood down the left. Within a minute the winger had brillianty controlled Eric Lichaj’s dinked ball down the line, cut inside and fired just wide of David Forde’s near post from 20 yards.
There was a lengthy pause on six minutes before Carlos Edwards was stretchered off with what looked like a serious injury. Ed Upson replaced him.
The Reds were still in the ascendancy and on 20 minutes won a corner after neat play involving Henri Lansbury, Robert Tesche and Jack Hunt. Vaughan sent the ball to the back post where Antonio appeared to be pulled back by Scott Malone before nudging the ball wide. Referee Graham Scott was unmoved.
Despite his side’s dominance, Forest’s Assombalonga had found chances hard to come by. His first came on 25 minutes after he won a free-kick from Alan Dunne. Lansbury picked the striker out perfectly but he had strayed into an offside position and could only nod the ball straight at Forde.
Antonio came close to opening the scoring in unorthodox fashion on 31 minutes when he crossed the ball deep into the Millwall box. It appeared to be flying into the top corner but Forde managed to get a touch to divert it all the way out for a throw-in.
As the half wore on the hosts came more into the game, and a goalmouth scramble in the Forest area left Michael Mancienne, captaining the side in the absence of Chris Cohen, and Jack Hunt on the floor. Mancienne was fit to continue but Hunt had to come off for Fox, who went to left back with Lichaj moving to the other side.
Fox was called straight into action on the stroke of half-time, rushing out to block a shot from the edge of the area after Darlow had half-cleared the ball with a punch from a corner.
The sides headed into the break level and re-emerged unchanged for what turned out to be a scrappy start to the second half. Lansbury, Mark Beevers and Michael Mancienne all found themselves in the book for separate incidents as both sides tried to assert their authority on the game.
And it was Millwall who created the first opportunity of the second half. Darlow had to scramble the ball away from goal after it was crossed in dangerously from the left on 56 minutes. It fell to Woolford six yards out but he could only strike it wide of the far post.
The hosts came close again shortly afterwards when Dunne got on the end of Shaun Williams’ low free-kick. Darlow made an excellent reaction save to deny the Lions skipper from close range.
With around 20 minutes to play Forest had their second half-shout for a penalty after Assombalonga latched on to an Antonio flick-on. Jimmy Abdou brought the striker down in the area but The Reds’ appeals were turned away.
Pearce made his second change of the afternoon five minutes later, introducing Paterson in place of Tesche. Paterson went out to the left, Lansbury dropped deeper into midfield and Antonio moved up front alongside Assombalonga.
It had been a difficult second half for Forest but they were coming into it more as full-time approached. With six minutes to play, Burke shifted the ball on to his left foot and crossed it towards the back post. Antonio dropped off his marker but could only head the ball over.
And The Reds had another chance following a deep Burke cross shortly afterwards. This time Paterson sent the ball back across goal for Assombalonga to head it towards goal. The ball bounced into the turf and Dunne and Forde combined to smother it on the line.
Assombalonga had endured a frustrating afternoon but had a golden opportunity to win it in the second minute of added time. Paterson turned brilliantly in the area and picked out the striker in the middle, but he got his first-time effort horribly wrong, ballooning the ball out towards the wing and ensuring the match ended goalless.
Forest: Darlow, Hunt (Fox 45'), Mancienne, Wilson, Lichaj, Burke, Vaughan, Tesche (Paterson 75'), Antonio, Lansbury, Assombalonga
Subs not used: De Vries, Harding, Veldwijk, Lascelles, Osborn
Bookings: Lansbury 51', Mancienne 56', Darlow 78'
: Forde, Edwards (Upson 7'), Dunne, Beevers, Malone, Abdou, Williams, Woolford, McDonald, Easter (Gueye 67'), Ranegie (Fuller 65')
Subs not used: King, Webster, Chaplow, Onyedinma
Bookings: Beevers 54', Williams 86'
Referee: Graham Scott
Attendance: 12,038 (1,676 away)