Nicklas Bendtner scored his first goal in Nottingham Forest colours as The Reds drew 1-1 with Fulham at The City Ground this evening.
Bendtner had put Forest in front with a well-taken goal on the hour but Fulham responded well and took a share of the points back to West London when Tom Cairney equalised with 18 minutes remaining.
Philippe Montanier made six changes from the defeat at Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend. The suspended Henri Lansbury was replaced by David Vaughan with Pajtim Kasami coming in for Jorge Grant. In defence Damien Perquis and Danny Fox took the places of Matt Mills and Hildeberto Pereira respectively. Bendtner made his first league start in place of Apostolos Vellios in attack.
Both teams came into the match in search of a much-needed victory. The home side dominated possession early on and nearly had the dream start when Bendtner cut inside from the left and let fly with a 30-yard effort. David Button was beaten in the Fulham goal only for the ball to rebound off the crossbar.
The visitors came back into the match after that and could have gone in front. Matt Smith wandered into the Forest penalty box unmarked and was found with a cross from the right-hand side. The Fulham striker looked to certain to score from the edge of the six-yard box but Vladimir Stojkovic was on hand to produce a wonder-save to deny Smith. The Serb somehow managed to claw the ball off the line with an outstretched hand.
Both teams were struggling to find their rhythm and despite a couple of half-chances for each side, neither goalkeeper was tested.
That all changed on 34 minutes when Button superbly denied Bendtner from close-range. Mustapha Carayol beat his man and squared the ball to the Dane inside the box but his effort was saved by the legs of Button.
Eight minutes later Carayol also went close but dragged his effort wide of the post. It was a neat move from the home side which involved Eric Lichaj and Ben Osborn with Carayol just unable to finish it off.
Shortly after the restart Fulham had another golden opportunity to take the lead. The home side struggled to deal with a Cairney corner and the ball eventually fell to Sone Aluko. The Nigerian managed to turn his body but blazed over from close range.
After going close on two separate occasions in the first half Bendtner finally opened his Forest account with a clinical finish on the hour mark. Kasami broke with the ball into the Fulham half and after he and Osborn exchanged passes, the Swiss international found the Dane at the back post. The former Arsenal man powerfully side-footed the ball past Button in front of the Trent End.
Despite going in front it was the visitors that looked more likely to score next and they did find an equaliser on 72 minutes. The home side again struggled to deal with a cross into the box and the ball fell to Cairney who smashed in the equaliser from the left.
Fulham looked as if they had won it on 84 minutes through Smith. The striker was first to react after Stojkovic had saved an initial shot from substitute Chris Martin but the linesman flagged for offside as Smith turned the ball home.
The hosts nearly took full advantage two minutes later but substitute Lica was unable to turn Osborn’s cross towards the goal before another superb late save from Stojkovic denied Smith from long-range as the sides shared the points at The City Ground.
Forest: Stojkovic, Lichaj (c), Mancienne, Perquis, Fox, Carayol (Lica 55'), Vaughan, Osborn, Kasami, Dumitru-Cardoso (Pereira 72'), Bendtner (Vellios 89')
Subs not used: Henderson, Mills, Cohen, Grant
Goal: Bendtner 60'
Bookings: Dumitru-Cardoso 39', Fox 78'
: Button, Odoi, Ream, Sigurdsson, Malone (FulhamSessegnon 80'), Piazon (Martin 67'), Parker (c), Tunnicliffe, Cairney (Adeniran 89'), Aluko, Smith
Subs not used: Bettinelli, Johansen, Madl, Jozabed
Goal: Cairney 72'
Referee: Darren Bond
Attendance: 17,388 (453 away)