Nottingham Forest had to settle for a point as Queens Park Rangers came from behind to draw 1-1 at The City Ground this afternoon.
Britt Assombalonga gave The Reds a first half lead, but it was cancelled out by Idrissa Sylla’s late header. Both sides were reduced to ten men as Karl Henry and Hildeberto Pereira were both sent off for second bookable offences in the first and second halves respectively.
Philippe Montanier made two changes to the side that lost at Reading last week, with Hildeberto Pereira and Britt Assombalonga replacing Armand Traore and Apostolos Vellios.
There was also a home debut for academy graduate Joe Worrall as he kept his place in a three-man defence after an assured Forest debut last week.
It was an edgy start to the game with neither side able to maintain a good spell of possession. Forest showed the early attacking intent, Assombalonga getting on the end of a cross by Pereira after ten minutes to steer the ball past Alex Smithies but only to see the assistant raise his flag for offside.
Assombalonga then had a big chance on 24 as a long ball forward by Henri Lansbury caught out Nedum Onuoha, and the Forest forward could not quite get the ball under control as Smithies saved his low effort.
Karl Henry, who picked up a yellow card after 11 minutes for dissent, was walking a tightrope after a late foul on Pajtim Kasami a few minutes later, and he was given his marching orders for bringing down Lansbury as the midfielder skipped away from him on 34 minutes.
It only took Forest four minutes to take advantage of the extra man as it was third time lucky for Assombalonga who gave The Reds the lead.
A ball was played over the top of the Rangers’ defence and the forward latched onto it, rounding the onrushing Smithies before squeezing the ball in from a tight angle and past the despairing dive of a QPR defender on the line.
Forest were much the better side in the first half and it could have been 2-0 right on half-time as Lansbury picked up the ball after a lucky deflection in the box. He was tackled superbly by a Rangers defender and Ben Osborn could not keep the follow-up effort down as it sailed over the bar.
The second half started in a similar vein, with Forest looking to get in behind the Rs’ defence. Ben Osborn broke the offside trap on 49, but his pull-back from the byline was well cut out.
But after the opening five minutes QPR penned Forest in their own half. The visitors were quick to close down the Forest midfielders, leading to a flurry of fouls and yellow cards for the home side.
That proved costly as Pereira, just back from a two-match suspension, picked up two yellow cards within six minutes. Firstly, he was booked on 65 minutes for handbags after QPR were awarded a free-kick, then he brought down Conor Washington as the attacker came forward, leaving referee Keith Stroud with no choice but to even things up.
The Reds were their own worst enemies, slicing clearances and only finding Rangers players with their passes which invited pressure onto the defence.
That pressure told as QPR were level on 85 minutes. Substitute Nasser El Khayati hit a dangerous cross in to the near post from the left flank, and fellow sub Idrissa Sylla met the ball and headed powerfully past Vladimir Stojkovic at his near post.
Forest pushed forward as there was seven minutes of added time, substitute Apostolos Vellios coming closest as he flicked Lansbury’s corner goalwards, forcing Smithies into a save, but both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Forest: Stojkovic, Lichaj, Mills, Perquis, Worrall, Pereira, Cohen (Lam 81’), Lansbury, Kasami, Osborn, Assombalonga (Vellios 90+2)
Unused subs: Henderson, Dumitru-Cadroso, Fox, Lica, Grant
Goal: Assombalonga 38’
Yellow cards: Worrall 50’, Stojkovic 60’, Pereira 65’, 71’, Cohen 68’
Red card: Pereira 71’
QPR: Smithies, Perch, Onuoha, Hall, Robinson (El Khayati 84’), Cousins, Henry, Wszolek (Shodipo 55’), Chery, Washington (Sylla 77'), Polter
Unused subs: Ingram, Lynch, Gladwin, Hamalainen
Goal: Sylla 85’
Yellow cards: Henry 11’, 34’, Robinson 66’
Red card: Henry 34’