Following up the 7-3 victory over Leeds United was never going to be easy but a dominating performance saw Forest unlucky not to take all three points against Brighton. James Bolton reports from the City Ground.
Steve Cotterill named an unchanged team from the one that produced the special win at Elland Road, which meant Radi Majewski started back-to-back games for the first time since December.
The game started fairly slowly with both sides keeping possession well, pressing hard when they didn’t have the ball and creating little in the way of attempts on goal. Adlene Guedioura and Vicente both fired long shots wide in the opening 20 minutes.
And there was a bit of feisty behaviour from Brighton winger Kazenga Lua Lua who didn’t take kindly to being fouled by Garath McCleary, or Chris Gunter’s clearance smacking him on the back of the head. But it was a bit of pushing and shoving that the game needed to spark it into life.
Neat footwork from Guy Moussi drew a foul from Lewis Dunk right on the edge of the box and just inches away from a penalty. Andy Reid took the resulting free kick, but his curling effort crashed off the post with goalkeeper Peter Brezovan well beaten.
Forest then began to take control of the game and when Guedioura robbed the ball from Alan Navarro, the Algerian’s attempted chipped ball to an unmarked Dexter Blackstock was slightly over hit.
Reid was again proving dangerous down the left flank, and he whipped a ball in towards the far post, but Blackstock couldn’t quite get around Dunk to make contact and head goalwards.
Majewski then held the ball up well in the Brighton box and his curling shot was deflected onto the roof of the net. The resulting corner found Guedioura on the edge of box, who chested then teed himself up with his thigh, before crashing a volley towards goal, which only just flew wide of Brezovan’s left-hand post.
The half-time whistle blew and Forest had outplayed Brighton at their own passing game for the last 20 minutes of the first half. They had kept Brighton quiet, pressed hard, but not scored the goal their dominance deserved.
It was much of the same at the start of the second half, with Forest keeping possession well and defending resolutely, but failing to carve out a clear cut chance.
After 63 minutes, and totally against the run of play, the away side took the lead. Joel Lynch fouled Sam Vokes 35 yards out. Vicente clipped the ball in, Vokes lost his marker and flicked the ball over the onrushing Camp, who should have done better, to give Brighton the opener.
Brezovan was tested again by Guedioura, as his first-time rasping drive forced an uneasy punch from the Slovakian. Then McCleary’s effort from the right-hand side of the box was deflected just wide.
Forest then struck the woodwork for a second time, and it was Guedioura who was denied. Gunter cut the ball back to Moussi on the edge of the box and he laid it off to Guedioura, who dummied and fired a shot at goal, only to see the ball hit the inside of the post and be cleared to safety.
Marcus Tudgay then came on for Majewski and McCleary, who looked to have a slightly tight hamstring, was replaced by Ismael Miller.
Forest were then denied by the woodwork for a third time. Lynch’s turn and shot fell to Miller, and his tame effort somehow evaded everyone, but as the Brighton defence stood helpless, the ball trickled onto the post and was eventually cleared.
As Forest pushed for an equaliser, Lewis McGugan came on for Greg Cunningham, who had put in an impressive display at left-back and linked up very well with Reid.
As the game entered stoppage time, Brighton were reduced to 10 men when substitute Matt Sparrow was given a second booking for a cynical grab on Guedioura, putting the Seagulls under yet more pressure with five minutes of added time to go.
And that pressure finally told when Forest got a deserved equaliser. Gunter’s pumped ball into the box was headed down by Tudgay to Blackstock, whose touch bobbled to the feet of Lynch. He slid the ball home against his former club, with just 90 seconds left on the clock.
The final whistle blew and Forest had clawed back a point. For a while it felt as though the result at the Amex Stadium would repeat itself, where Forest bossed the game for large periods, but were on the wrong end of a 1-0 snatch and grab.
Today, Forest were very good value for all three points and but for a slice of luck in terms of shots hitting the post, we surely would have come away with the win.
However, the fact we’re disappointed with just a point against a team fourth in the Championship, who have lost just once in 2012, shows how well we played. We can be very encouraged indeed, and with the passing football on show against Leeds and Brighton, we should be confident going into our game in hand against Leicester on Tuesday.
Man of the Match: Adlene Guedioura. He was outstanding – absolutely tireless in the middle of the park, dictating play, making commanding runs and showing those classy touches that set him apart from the rest of our side. He was unfortunate not to add to his Forest goal tally too.