Nottingham Forest played out an enthralling 0-0 draw against Barnsley at The City Ground this afternoon.The Reds dominated the game from start to finish but couldn’t find a winner.
Billy Davies made one change to the side that lost at Middlesbrough in midweek. Lewis McGugan returned to the bench and was replaced by Radi Majewski.
A bright Forest start complemented the glorious sunshine which bathed the banks of the Trent on another important afternoon. Simon Cox had a penalty appeal waved away in the opening seconds, before he saw his shot deflect across Luke Steele’s goal and just wide on four minutes.
The visitors created an opening of their own three minutes later. Jason Scotland raced into the area in pursuit of a flick on, only to be denied a clear shot at goal by the toe of an outstretched Greg Halford.
Forest were forced in to a change on 22 minutes. Hutchinson, who picked up an innocuous-looking knock while earlier challenging for the ball, was replaced by Collins. He went in to the middle and Halford switched to right back.
The Reds had the woodwork rattling five minutes later. Andrai Jones’ wayward backpass went out for a corner, and Henri Lansbury’s header from Majewski’s in-swinger hit the top of the bar on its way out.
There was then danger at the other end as Reuben Noble-Lazarus’ pace took him into the box. Elliott Ward slid in well to knick the ball away from the 19 year old as he raced towards goal.
With less than ten minutes to go in the half Forest nearly had the opener courtesy of a Billy Sharp diving header. Halford’s long, bullet-like throw was met by the sprawling striker, who could only watch as Steele sprung to his right to hold on well.
Shortly afterwards, Guedioura’s low 25-yarder was palmed away by the ‘keeper as pressure mounted on The Tykes, and Steele held on to a similar effort from the Algerian in injury-time.
No changes were made at the break and it was Barnsley who claimed the first shot of the half - Chris O’Grady’s effort from distance flew over.
Sharp then saw his shot deflect out for a corner at the other end. Reid’s initial cross was cleared for another corner, and his second delivery went over Steele and Cranie had to turn it over his own crossbar as Ward lurked menacingly at the back post.
Forest then twice went agonisingly close in quick succession. Lansbury’s perfectly-timed dart into the area saw him get on the end of a superb Reid cross. The midfielder’s diving effort was saved at the second attempt by Steele.
The ‘keeper had his post to thank shortly afterwards. Darlow’s long punt forward after a Tykes corner wasn’t dealt with by Perkins. Cox held it up and laid it off for Reid. The Irishman jinked his way into space on the edge of the area before firing an effort onto the woodwork.
Forest were racking up the chances in the early exchanges and Reid was pivotal again on 63 minutes. His excellent cross was headed straight at Steele by Sharp.
The visitors then reminded everyone of their threat. Forest found themselves defending in a 2v2 situation and Ward had to stand up well to stop Chris Dagnall - on for Scotland - as he ran into the area.
Lansbury then made way for McGugan before Barnsley were forced to thank the woodwork yet again. Ward’s knock down after Guedioura’s long ball was perfect for Sharp, who shaped a beautiful volley towards goal with his instep. It rattled the same post which had earlier denied Reid.
The striker was involved again minutes later. He worked hard to keep possession in a crowded penalty area - running almost full-circle before seeing his shot deflect into Steele’s arms.
Forest were firmly in the ascendancy - Collins was next to have a go. He headed McGugan’s corner over the bar.
Dexter Blackstock was introduced on 83 minutes - he replaced Majewski.
As dominant as The Reds had been in the second half, they had to wait until the 87th minute to next go close. Halford’s powerful long throw bobbled off a defender and just wide of the post.
The fourth official indicated four added minutes - the third of which saw Sharp hit the top of Steele’s bar after meeting Reid’s looping cross with his head.
With seconds to play, Cohen was forced to bring down O’Grady as the attacker cut in from the right. The full back went in to the book and Tom Kennedy’s free-kick deflected off the wall and out for a corner - the final action of a frantic afternoon.
Forest: Darlow, Cohen (c), Ward, Halford, Hutchinson (Collins 22'), Guedioura, Lansbury (McGugan 66'), Majewski (Blackstock 83'), Reid, Cox, Sharp
Subs not used: Al-Rashidi, Moussi, Greening, Tudgay
Booking: Cohen 90'
Barnsley: Steele (c), Kennedy, Crainie, Wiseman, Jones, Perkins, Mellis, O'Brien (Harewood 77'), Noble-Lazurus (Cywka 67'), Scotland (Dagnall 56'), O'Grady
Subs not used: Alnwick, Edwards, Knight, Rose
Bookings: Craney 42', Jones 55'
Referee: Andy Haines
Attendance: 22,230 (Away: 1,190)