A good second-half performance from Nottingham Forest saw them come from behind to earn a point against Stoke City this evening.
James Chester’s own goal following Anthony Knockaert’s cross into the box levelled the scores in the second half after Jordan Thompson’s corner went straight into the net to put Stoke ahead in the first 45 minutes.
The Reds hit back after the break and could have come away with all three points but were made to settle for just one to end 2020 on a four-game unbeaten run.
Chris Hughton made one change to the Forest side which drew against Birmingham on Boxing Day, with Knockaert replacing Alex Mighten who dropped to the bench.
There was a quiet opening to the game with little in the way of goalmouth action, but Forest were getting some joy out of Knockaert’s superb set-piece delivery as Joe Worrall came close to prodding home from a corner on 16 minutes.
A minute later and Brice Samba was called into action at the foot of his near post to keep out Sam Vokes’ flicked effort, but the Forest keeper was beaten from the resulting corner as Jordan Thompson’s delivery evaded Lewis Grabban at the front post and caught Samba by surprise as it snuck in off his shins.
That trio of chances was about the extent of the goalscoring opportunities in a very quiet first half at the bet365 Stadium, with The Reds needing to lift their game to stand a chance of getting anything out of the match.
They started the second half well, moving the ball positively and working hard to create an opening. Cyrus Christie did that on 58 minutes as he cut inside from the right and hit a good left-footed effort which fizzed just past the far post.
On 65 minutes Forest deservedly levelled the game as another excellent cross into the box by Knockaert was flicked into his own net by James Chester under pressure from Joe Worrall.
The match was being played in very difficult conditions as a thick fog descended, making visibility very limited, but Forest continued to show an improvement as two substitutes linked up. Joe Lolley played Lyle Taylor in down the right, then the forward returned the pass for Lolley in the middle who couldn’t divert the ball on target under pressure from Nathan Collins.
Forest were almost gifted the winning goal with five minutes remaining as the experienced Jon Obi Mikel inadvertently played a defence-splitting through pass for Cafu, who had read the situation well. Cafu controlled and shot goalwards from 15 yards out but Stoke keeper Joe Bursik was out quickly and got a crucial touch to divert the ball wide.
From the resulting corner, Tobias Figueiredo got in a diving header which went just wide of the near post, and in added time all of Forest’s hard work was almost undone as Sam Vokes had a free header in front of goal but he planted it straight at Samba.
Ryan Yates hammered over the bar and Knockaert broke through to fire wide with Taylor well-placed in the middle, but The Reds had to settle for a point.
Forest: Samba; Christie, Figueiredo, Worrall, Ribeiro; Sow, Yates; Ameobi (Lolley 64’), Cafu, Knockaert; Grabban (c) (Taylor 76’)
Unused subs: Smith, Mbe Soh, Bong, Jenkinson, Mighten, Guerrero, Arter
Goal: Chester own goal 65’
Stoke: Bursik; Chester (c), Souttar, Collins; McClean, Thompson (Mikel 68’), Allen (Clucas 61’), Smith; Powell (Ince 82’); Vokes, Brown (Oakley-Boothe 82’)
Unused subs: Lonergan, Batth, Shawcross, Verlinden, Cousins
Goal: Thompson 18’
Booking: Brown 81’
Referee: Dean Whitestone