Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Nottingham Forest
Britt Assombalonga scored two as Nottingham Forest twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Bolton Wanderers at the Macron Stadium this afternoon
The striker cancelled-out goals from Joe Mason and David Wheater in a frantic first-half in Lancashire.
Forest dominated the game for large parts and were unfortunate not to claim a third consecutive victory.
Stuart Pearce was forced into making one change from the side that comfortably beat Blackpool on opening day.
Michael Mancienne was suspended after collecting two bookings in the Capital One Cup win at Tranmere on Tuesday, opening the door for Jack Hobbs to make his first league appearance since February.
The Reds started with the same system as they did against The Tangerines, with Chris Cohen partnering Andy Reid in central midfield and Matty Fryatt alongside Britt Assombalonga up front.
Just as they did at Prenton Park in midweek, Forest got off to an electric start. Within a minute Fryatt had an excellent chance to take the lead after Assombalonga latched on to a long ball over the top and pulled it back for the striker in the area. Fryatt couldn’t control it and Bolton cleared for a corner.
With The Reds still camped in their hosts’ half, Fryatt had another chance to break the deadlock on two minutes but he took one too many touches as he carried the ball into the box, allowing the Wanderers defence to smother the danger.
Bolton were unable to compose themselves until the fourth minute when Forest conceded a free-kick in a dangerous crossing position. And it was from that set-piece that Wanderers took the lead, Mason heading the ball past Darlow after Jay Spearing had whipped it in from the left.
Forest set about restoring parity immediately and won a corner when Michail Antonio’s low cross was turned behind. The winger got on the end of Andy Reid’s subsequent floated delivery but could only head the ball straight at Adam Bogdan.
Pearce’s men continued their pressure and Fryatt had another chance to score on 17 minutes. Reid headed the ball goalwards after Jack Hunt crossed from the right. Bogdan reacted well to push it away but only as far as Fryatt, who directed it straight back at Bogdan with an instinctive close-range header.
There was nothing the keeper could do ten minutes later, however, as Forest equalised. Chris Burke crossed the ball from the right and a slight deflection directed it nicely towards Antonio at the back post. The summer signing did brilliantly to nod it down into the centre where Assombalonga pounced to smash it beyond Bogdan from two yards.
Forest had looked by far the better side but were their own worst enemies two minutes later, first conceding a free-kick in a similar area from which Mason had opened the scoring.
The Reds managed to half-clear the danger but some sloppy defending allowed Wheater to pick the ball up on the right-hand side of the area and roll it past Darlow, restoring the hosts’ lead.
Wheater had a chance to score his second shortly afterwards, heading the ball wide from Spearing’s corner, but three minutes later Assombalonga was handed a golden opportunity to equalise once more.
The striker, who has recently been praised by Pearce for his tireless work ethic, chased down a dinked ball into Bolton’s final third, getting to it just before Spearing who sliced the striker down on the corner of the box. Referee Eddie Ilderton pointed to the spot and Assombalonga smashed the ball straight down the middle and to make it 2-2.
Determined to take the lead, Forest pressed on. Fryatt dropped into midfield and was picked out nicely by Dan Harding. The striker spun and struck the ball off Wheater from 22 yards. For a moment it looked like the ball would get beyond Bogdan but the keeper did brilliantly to hold it on the line.
Two minutes of added time were indicated at the end of the half, and Forest had two further chances before the break. First, Fryatt flicked the ball on in the area from Antonio’s long throw. Assombalonga couldn’t react quickly enough to turn it home on the edge of the six-yard box.
The Reds kept up their pressure, Cohen slipping the ball to Reid on his left. The Irishman was always stretching to strike it first time and couldn’t control his effort, sending it well wide.
There were no changes for either side of the break and Forest came out on the front foot, Antonio curling the ball straight at Bogdan from the edge of the area after neat play by Fryatt and Reid.
The Reds were well in control and Assombalonga came within inches of claiming hat-trick on 52 minutes. Antonio crossed the ball from the left and the striker cushioned his header brilliantly, guiding it across goal and agonisingly wide of the far post.
Chris Cohen was next to have a go, taking the ball past one man before striking it towards goal. It took a deflection and, from the resultant corner, Antonio headed the ball wide under pressure at the back post.
Forest were completely dominating their opponents but finding clear-cut chances hard to come by. Reid’s cross-cum-shot was the next to trouble Bogdan, who was relieved to see the ball come to rest on top of his net with 15 minutes to play.
Wanderers had struggled badly to impose themselves in the second half but could have taken the lead out of the blue with nine minutes left. Kevin McNaughton whipped the ball just over Hobbs’ head from the right and Craig Davies could only head it over unmarked near the penalty spot.
As the clock wound down Antonio was replaced by Eric Lichaj, Jack Hunt pushing ahead down the right and Burke switching wings. And with three minutes to go Hunt provided a superb cross from the right but Burke was unable to head the ball goalwards when well-placed.
It was the winger’s last action as Stephen McLaughlin replaced him shortly before three minutes of added time were indicated.
In the first of those minutes Hunt did brilliantly to skip past two men in the area only to be eventually crowded out.
Lars Veldwijk replaced Fryatt as Forest ramped up the pressure on their hosts but they couldn’t find the breakthrough their adventure deserved before Mr Ilderton called time on an entertaining afternoon’s play
Forest: Darlow, Hunt, Hobbs, Fox, Harding, Burke (McLaughlin, 89'), Cohen(c), Reid, Antonio (Lichaj, 85'), Assombalonga, Fryatt (Veldwijk, 90')
Subs not used: De Vries, Grant, Osborn, Paterson
Goal: Assombalonga (27', Pen 35')
:Bolton Bogdan, McNaughton, Ream, Wheater, Mills, Spearing, Lee, Medo (Pratley, 66'), Danns (Trotter, 69'), Mason, C Davies (Beckford, 89')
Subs not used: Lonergan, Dervite, Feeney, Wilkinson
Bookings: Spearing 37', Pratley 85'
Goals: Mason (4'), Wheater (31')
Referee: Mr E Ilderton
Attendance: 15,757 (2,517 Away)