Gary Gardner scored a stunning goal as Nottingham Forest drew 1-1 at Hull’s KC Stadium this evening.
The Aston Villa loanee opened the scoring with a beautiful 30-yard effort, only for City substitute Sone Aluko to level the scores in the second half.
Paul Williams made two changes to the team that was beaten by Sheffield Wednesday in Dougie Freedman’s final match in charge.
Jorge Grant and Chris O’Grady were replaced by Bojan Jokic and new loan signing Federico Macheda, while Dexter Blackstock was back on the bench following the birth of his twins.
Jokic lined up at left back, with Chris Cohen moving into central midfield alongside David Vaughan and Gardner.
Forest claimed the first shot of note when Macheda picked the ball up 30 yards out. He raced into the space ahead of him and unleashed a low left-footed shot, but dragged the ball wide.
Hull’s first opening came shortly afterwards when Robert Snodgrass threaded a through ball into the Forest area. It looked like Michael Mancienne would intercept the pass but the ball evaded him and Abel Hernandez was through on goal. He poked the ball past Dorus de Vries but it came back off the post. Mo Diame was the man on the follow up but de Vries made an excellent save to divert the ball out for a corner.
Despite that scare it had been a strong start from Forest, who had another opportunity to take the lead on 21 minutes. Cohen’s forward pass looped up off a City defender and Mendes did brilliantly to control the ball and cut inside with his first touch. He played a one-two with Macheda in the area but saw his sweetly struck effort blocked.
Forest continued to force the issue and had two chances in quick succession when Cohen cut the ball back for Macheda in the area. The Italian’s low, drilled effort was parried by Hull keeper Allan McGregor. Lichaj was the first man on the scene, allowing the ball to bounce before lashing it over the crossbar from a tight angle eight yards out.
If anyone deserved the lead it was the visitors, and they got their just rewards when they opened the scoring in spectacular fashion on 28 minutes. Mendes nudged the ball to Gardner 30 yards out and the midfielder stroked it into the top corner, leaving McGregor with no chance.
A win for Hull would take them into the Sky Bet Championship’s top two and Snodgrass was looking the most likely man to unpick Forest’s thus-far stubborn defence. He breezed through midfield on 33 minutes and played a lovely through ball for Ahmed Elmohamady. Met by de Vries in close quarters, the Egyptian saw his effort saved by the Dutchman’s feet.
Forest reached half-time with their 1-0 lead comfortably in tact and there were no changes for either side at the break.
Hull began the second half on the front foot and de Vries had to be alert to push the ball behind at his near post after Tom Huddlestone’s cross took a wicked deflection off Lichaj. The resultant corner caused a scramble in the area but Forest managed to clear the danger. Shortly afterwards, Hernandez pulled the ball back for the onrushing Diame but the midfielder could only fire it straight at de Vries.
Both managers made their first change just before the hour, Oliver Burke replacing Macheda in a straight swap and Moses Odubajo making way for Aluko.
And the Forest sub had a good chance to double his side’s lead soon after his introduction. Jokic raced away down the left and Burke peeled off to the right. The Slovenian dinked a lovely pass to the youngster, who controlled it before firing it across goal and a yard wide of the post.
Williams’ next change saw Robert Tesche replace Cohen with 72 minutes on the clock but there was nothing the German could do to prevent his side from relinquishing the lead in scrappy circumstances moments later.
Vaughan attempted to play his way out of trouble but could only present the ball to Huddlestone 25 yards out. The former Spurs midfielder’s shot looped up off a Forest man and perfectly into the path of Aluko, who controlled it and nudged it past de Vries from eight yards. Burke nearly put his side back ahead seconds after the restart when he burst through the middle and worked the ball on to his right foot in the box. A Hull defender came sliding in to take the pace off his shot and McGregor was able to get down to his right to make the save.
Forest were certainly in no mood to let their high-flying hosts gain the ascendancy and worked another opportunity ten minutes from time. Osborn and Burke linked up down the left, resulting in the former seeing his shot blocked out for a corner.
Forest’s final change saw Blackstock replace Mendes, which allowed Burke to switch to a more familiar right-wing role.
Just as five minutes of added time were indicated, City came within inches of a fortuitous winner when Diame’s shot from the edge of the box deflected just wide off a Forest man.
But there were to be no more goals as Williams claimed a respectable point from his first game in temporary charge.
Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills (c), Mancienne, Jokic, Mendes (Blackstock 85'), Cohen (Tesche 72'), Vaughan, Osborn, Gardner, Macheda (O.Burke 58')
Subs not used: Evtimov, Wilson, Walker, Grant
Goal: Gardner 28'
Bookings: Osborn 44', Mendes 74'
: McGregor, Odubajo (HullAluko 58'), Dawson, Davies, Robertson (Akpom 80'), Elmohamady, Huddlestone, Clucas, Snodgrass, Diame, Hernandez
Subs: Jakupovic, Bruce, Maguire, Hayden, Diomande
Goal: Aluko 73'
Bookings: Clucas 41', Elmohamady 75'
Referee: Andy Davies
Attendance: 15,663 (520 away)