Lee Tomlin’s second-half equaliser earned Nottingham Forest a point against Reading at The City Ground this evening.
The forward’s first goal for the club five minutes from time cancelled out Omar Richards’ opener for a share of the spoils in the Sky Bet Championship.
The Reds were much improved in the second half against Jaap Stam’s side and had the chances to take all three but ultimately had to settle for one.
Aitor Karanka made two changes to the side which drew at Burton on the weekend, with Ben Osborn coming in for the suspended Eric Lichaj and Kieran Dowell taking Matty Cash’s place in the starting eleven.
The first chance of the game arrived on three minutes for the visitors and a glorious one it was too. Derby loanee Chris Martin played the ball out wide for former Forest man Chris Gunter, and the forward raced into the box to get on the end of his cross only to volley over the bar from eight yards out.
The opening stages of the game were scrappy with neither side looking like taking control. Forest had the ball in the back of the net on eight minutes as Ben Brereton turned in Dowell’s teasing cross from the right, only to see the flag raised for offside, and the visitors were denied by a superb Danny Fox block on 21 as Gunter looked set to convert inside the area.
Just before the half-hour mark The Reds began to build up some pressure on the Reading goal with a few efforts in quick succession. Tomlin drove through the midfield and fired an effort just wide from 25 yards before Vito Mannone was called into action twice in 30 seconds, firstly to deny Brereton and then Joe Lolley.
But it was Reading who found the opener through Richards on 35 minutes. Gunter found space down the right and drilled a shot across goal which Costel Pantilimon pushed clear, but only to full back Richards who lashed home from 10 yards out.
The Reds almost found themselves back on level terms on the stroke of half time as Tomlin’s superb curling free kick looked destined for the corner, only for Mannone to pull off a fine save to tip it around the post.
Karanka’s men came out for the second half with some intent, moving the ball quickly and not allowing Reading chance to settle on the ball. Their play got the crowd on side and this almost helped find the equaliser on 52 minutes as Lolley showed excellent footwork in a tight space inside the penalty area but couldn’t get a firm contact on his shot in the final moment.
Tendayi Darikwa was whiskers away from his first City Ground goal on 55 as his ferocious effort smashed off the underside of the bar and away, then seconds later Brereton’s effort deflected towards the far post where Darikwa arrived but saw his shot superbly blocked on the line by Richards.
The next chance arrived on the hour mark with Tobias Figueiredo, on his home debut, meeting a Tomlin corner at the near post but glancing his header wide of the far post before the match became stop-start as The Royals tried to see the game out.
But The Reds kept huffing and puffing and they found the equaliser their second-half performance deserved with five minutes remaining and it was Tomlin who got it. Lolley was played in down the left flank and the winger cut inside his man and squared for Tomlin in the middle who was composed as he fired into the bottom corner.
A point was the least Forest deserved from the game for their second-half dominance and The Reds can take plenty of positives from the game ahead of the trip to QPR on the weekend.
Forest: Pantilimon, Darikwa, Figueiredo, Fox, Osborn, Watson (c), Colback, Tomlin (Guedioura 89’), Dowell (Cash 66’), Lolley, Brereton
Unused subs: Kapino, Bridcutt, McKay, Fuentes, Bouchalakis
Goal: Tomlin 85’
Bookings: Osborn 62’, Tomlin 74’, Figueiredo 77’
Reading: Mannone, Gunter (c), Ilori, Moore, Richards, van den Berg (Evans 81’), Bacuna, Aluko, Kelly (Edwards 90’), Barrow (McCleary 71’), Martin
Unused subs: Jaakola, Clement, Bodvarsson, Blackett
Goal: Richards 35’
Bookings: Kelly 37’, Richards 76’, Gunter 78’
Referee: Stephen Martin
Attendance: 21,846 (356 away)