Nottingham Forest registered their first point in four league games with a battling 1-1 draw at playoff-chasing Middlesbrough.Mustapha Carayol's second-half opener looked set to give Boro all three points but Forest fought back against their in-form opponents and secured a share of the spoils with Darius Henderson's leveller ten minutes from time.
Billy Davies made two changes from the side that was beaten at Barnsley on Saturday as Danny Collins and Jonathan Greening came into the fold in place of Kevin Gomis and Greg Halford. There were also a spot on the bench for the returning Andy Reid as he made his comeback from injury.
There was a lively atmosphere amongst the sparse crowd at The Riverside Stadium and it was Forest who created the first opening. Good interplay between Simon Cox and Radi Majewski just outside the penalty area led to the Pole hitting a snapshot on the turn but his low effort was well wide of the target.
The Reds had started well and had another sight of goal after only 11 minutes. Djamal Abdoun drilled a right-footed corner into the heart of the penalty area but Jamaal Lascelles got his angles wrong and placed his free header past Dimi Konstantopoulos' far post.
Both sides were seeing plenty of the ball and the hosts created their first chance of note soon after. Carayol was on the end of an in-swinging corner but saw his powerful header cleared off the line by Lascelles before Emmanuel Ledesma horribly miscued the rebound to send it high and wide into the stand.
Forest should have been in front with 21 minutes on the clock after creating a golden opportunity. Jamie Paterson twisted and turned in the left-hand channel before delivering a delicious cross which Jamie Mackie could only head away from goal when well-placed in the area. In the resulting melee, referee Roger East waved away Forest's appeals for handball inside the box.
All the chances were falling to the visitors by now and Abdoun was next to try his luck. Paterson's excellent cross-field ball found Gonzalo Jara who sent a looping cross over to Abdoun at the back post. The Algerian couldn't get his head over the ball though and fired well over the crossbar on the half-volley.
The game was being fiercely-contested but Mackie was the first man to find himself in the referee's notebook following a heavy challenge on Boro midfielder Jozsef Varga on the nearside touchline.
Intent on finding the opening goal before half time, Forest were playing some excellent build-up football. Abdoun escaped down the right-hand channel and produced an inch-perfect cross onto the head of Cox but Konstantopoulos got down well to stop the ball on the line.
Abdoun was alert to everything coming his way and Middlesbrough almost gifted him the opening goal. Former Forest loanee Nathaniel Chalobah played a blind pass straight to the Algerian 30 yards from goal but his drilled effort skidded along the turf and into the grateful grasp of Konstantopoulos.
The final chance of a goalless first-half fell to the home side. With Forest backing off, Carayol continued his charging run at goal but as The Reds' defenders eventually closed the winger down, he sent a low shot scuttling past Karl Darlow's right-hand post.
There were no changes for either side at the interval but within eight minutes of the second half the hosts were in front. An incisive counter-attack saw Albert Adomah find Carayol in acres of space on the left wing. The Gambian winger produced a stunning curling finish past the outstretched Darlow.
Forest sought an immediate response to the home side's opener and were unfortunate to get one. Cox and Mackie were both foiled inside the penalty area before the Scot's effort from a tight angle drifted wide of the near post.
In their desperate search for an equaliser, The Reds were always vulnerable to the counter-attack and Carayol almost doubled the lead with a carbon copy of his opening goal. After breaking away down the left, Carayol again curled the ball towards the far corner but this time, agonisingly wide of the far post.
With time running out, Forest made their three changes in quick succession as Paterson, Cox and Abdoun were brought off for Reid, Matt Derbyshire and Henderson.
And it was the final substitution that had the desired effect as Forest levelled with ten minutes to play. Reid got himself free in the left-hand channel and delivered a superb ball into the six-yard box which the striker bundled home from close range. Despite Middlesbrough protests for the goal to be ruled out for handball, referee Roger East allowed the equaliser to stand.
An entertaining contest was now coming to the boil and the home side were unlucky not to restore their lead with six minutes to go. Danny Graham latched onto a bouncing ball inside the box but saw his shot come back off the post before Grant Leadbitter's effort was blocked away well by Collins.
Forest were defending bravely against the advancing hosts but a mistake from Lascelles almost allowed Graham in. The young defender allowed the ball to bounce over his head but the former Sunderland striker delayed in getting his shot away and Lascelles was able to get back round with an excellent interception.
Despite three minutes of added time at the end of the second half, Graham's was to be the final sight of goal as the two sides shared the points at the end of an entertaining game on Teesside.
Forest: Darlow, Jara, Lascelles, Collins (c), Fox, Greening, Mackie, Paterson (Reid 71'), Majewski, Abdoun (Henderson 78'), Cox (Derbyshire 78')
Subs not used: De Vries, Harding, Gomis, Moussi
Scorer: Henderson 80'
Booking: Mackie 28'
Middlesbrough: Dimi, Gibson, Chalobah, Varga, Carayol (Kamara 83'), Leadbitter (c), Friend, Tomlin (Adomah 36'), Graham, Omeruo, Ledesma (Whitehead 62')
Subs not used: Steele, Butterfield, L Williams, Atkinson
Scorer: Carayol 53'
Referee: Roger East
Attendance: 14,134 (Away: 892)