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Match Report

 

Posted Tue 19 Apr 16 at 19:45 PM

Forest 1-1 Blackburn

Nottingham Forest drew 1-1 with Blackburn Rovers at The City Ground this evening.

Dexter Blackstock gave The Reds an early lead when he broke into the area and guided the ball home.

But Rovers levelled the match before the break when Danny Graham nipped in to chip the ball over Dorus de Vries.

Forest went close to scoring a winner on numerous occasions but an excellent display from Blackburn goalkeeper Jason Steele kept The Reds at bay on a night when Britt Assombalonga came off the bench for his first appearance in 14 months.

Paul Williams named an unchanged side from the one that drew 0-0 at Rotherham on Saturday. That meant Gary Gardner and Robert Tesche continued their central-midfield partnership behind the more advanced Henri Lansbury.

Alongside Assombalonga on the substitutes bench were Chris Cohen, David Vaughan, Chris O'Grady, Oliver Burke and young defender Joe Worrall.

Forest tried to supply Lansbury twice in the opening minutes of the match, Ben Osborn seeing his cut-back intercepted before, minutes later, Dexter Blackstock was unable to nod the ball down for the midfielder in the area.

Blackburn's response came from former Leicester winger Ben Marshall, whose 20-yard effort fizzed wide of the post. Shortly afterwards, Connor Mahoney was unable to turn home Darragh Lenihan's cross.

The deadlock was broken by Forest with 15 minutes on the clock, however. The ball broke for Blackstock 30 yards out and he had the pace to get away from Rovers' defence and into the area. Goalkeeper Jason Steele got a hand to his shot but was unable to stop the ball from spinning over the line.

Energised by the opener, neat interplay between Ryan Mendes, Osborn and Lansbury resulted in the latter sending the ball wide on the stretch.

It was proving to be an open affair and Forest had goalkeeper de Vries to thank for an excellent save with his feet, denying Hope Akpan who had struck the ball goalwards from eight yards after Graham cut it back from the byline.

But a minute later the Dutch keeper was picking the ball out of his net after Rovers levelled the scores. Graham got the goal, beating de Vries to Marshall's chipped pass and flicking the ball over the keeper.

Forest tried to regain the lead immediately, Mendes doing well to wriggle free in the area before dinking the ball to the back post. Steele got up high to push the ball away as he and Blackstock challenged in the air.

There was then a slight lull in proceedings before Blackburn were penalised for handball on the byline. Osborn took the free-kick quickly, picking out Lansbury in the area, but his shot was well saved low down by Steele.

A minute later, more excellent work from Mendes, this time involving a nutmeg down the right, saw him square the ball for Lansbury in the area. The angle was against the midfielder and he could only lift it over the bar first-time.

Eric Lichaj was the next man to provide some excellent wingplay down the right and Lansbury was once again the beneficiary. This time he had time to knock the ball out of his feet 20 yards out and, while he struck it well, he couldn't keep it down.

The first action of the second half saw Matt Mills booked for bringing down Lenihan as the Rovers man led a pacey counter-attack. Marshall sent the ball well over the bar from the subsequent free-kick.

Forest were left frustrated on 57 minutes when, after Blackstock had cleverly released Lansbury, the midfielder's cut-back for Mendes was intercepted well by the Rovers defence.

The perfect cure would have been a goal - and Lansbury nearly had a spectacular one when he curled the ball towards the top corner from 25 yards. Steele made a brilliant save, pushing the ball over.

And Lansbury went agonisingly close yet again moments later, skimming the ball off the top of the bar from 20 yards after Blackstock's lay-off.

It was all Forest and next to have a go was Mendes. He exchanged passes with Osborn before bursting into the area with the ball. Steele narrowed the angle at his near post to make the save.

The keeper was quickly emerging as favourite for Rovers' Man of the Match as on 67 minutes he produced another excellent save, this time denying Blackstock at close quarters following Lansbury's corner.

Forest's first change of the evening saw Burke replace Mendes, who seconds earlier had done brilliantly to win the ball high up the field before scampering into the area. He delayed his next decision too long, however, and ran the ball out.

Blackburn had stemmed Forest's flow by the time Assombalonga took to the field to rapturous applause on 84 minutes. He replaced Tesche as Forest switched to two up front.

But there were to be no real openings for the forward to feed off as the match ended 1-1.

Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills, Jokic, Fox, Mendes (O.Burke 73'), Gardner, Tesche (Assombalonga 84'), Osborn, Lansbury (c), Blackstock

Subs not used: Evtimov, Cohen, Vaughan, O'Grady, Worrall

Goal: Blackstock 15'

Bookings: Mills 49', Gardner 76'

Blackburn: Steele, Lowe, Ward, Hanley (c), Kilgallon, Akpan (Gomez 79'), Evans, Lenihan, Marshall, Graham (Brown 84'), Mahoney (Bennett 71')

Subs not used: Raya, Williamson, Duffy, Jackson

Goal: Graham 22'

Bookings: Graham 42', Evans 75', Lenihan 76'

Referee: Christopher Kavanagh

Attendance: 16,449 (343 away)

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