Nottingham Forest and Watford played out an attritional 0-0 draw at The City Ground this evening.
Chris Hughton made four changes to the side that were beaten by Swansea City on Sunday as Joe Worrall, Cafu, Harry Arter and Joe Lolley came into the side to replace Scott McKenna, Jack Colback, Sammy Ameobi and Miguel Guerrero as the first two were ruled out of the contest through injury.
After a fairly uneventful start to the contest, the first chance fell Forest's way on 17 minutes but Arter could only skew a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area after Yuri Ribeiro's left-wing cross was only half-cleared by Hornets defender Christian Kabasele.
The visitors hadn't shown too much going forward in the early stages but the quality in their starting line-up always seemed likely to cause a threat. A dangerous ball into the penalty area by Domingos Quina was palmed away by Brice Samba and the Forest number one got up quickly to deny Joao Pedro on the follow-up.
Forest's final chance of the first half came on 37 minutes when a smart reverse pass from Anthony Knockaert found Cafu inside the Watford penalty area. He pulled the ball back for Lolley but the winger saw his effort deflected wide of the target as the opening 45 minutes ended goalless at The City Ground.
The Reds almost took advantage of some slack Watford defending in the opening five minutes of the second half as Jeremy Ngakia took a poor touch inside his own penalty area. Lolley pounced and fell under Ngakia's challenge but referee David Webb remained unmoved and Lyle Taylor fired the ball over the crossbar as it broke to him 12 yards from goal.
Ribeiro was being afforded the time and space to cross the ball into the box from the left-hand channel and when he did so on 58 minutes, he picked out a perfect delivery onto the head of Taylor but the former Charlton man couldn't keep his attempt down and it whistled over Ben Foster's crossbar.
Forest were in the ascendancy at the midway point of the second half and they were inches away from taking the lead. Taylor delivered a delicious low cross into the Watford six-yard box but Craig Cathcart was able to get a vital touch on the ball to take it off Cafu's toe and put it behind for a Forest corner.
Former Forest loanee Nathaniel Chalobah was fortunate not to have been shown a red card in the game's final stages. Having already been booked, Chalobah caught Arter with a late challenge but despite referee Webb playing the advantage, he didn't see enough in the challenge to show the midfielder a second caution.
There was plenty of endeavour and commitment from both sides on a cold night at The City Ground but the game lacked a real spark in the final third and so it ended all-square with Forest keeping a much-needed clean sheet and getting another point on the board.
Forest: Samba; Christie, Figueiredo, Worrall (c), Ribeiro; Cafu, Yates, Arter; Lolley (Ameobi 88'), Taylor, Knockaert
Subs not used: Smith, Mbe Soh, Jenkinson, Mighten, Guerrero, Dawson, Ioannou, Swan
Bookings: Lolley 23', Knockaert 54', Arter 84'
Watford: Foster; Ngakia, Kabasele, Cathcart (Wilmot 90'), Femenia; Chalobah, Garner, Quina (Perica 75'); Sarr, Pedro, Deeney (c)
Subs not used: Bachmann, Troost-Ekong, Cleverley, Sierralta, Navarro, Crichlow, Phillips
Bookings: Chalobah 69', Quina 71'
Referee: David Webb