Nottingham Forest were left frustrated as they were held to a goalless draw by Preston North End at Deepdale.
The Reds were unlucky not to pick up three points at West Brom in midweek, having been denied by a controversial late penalty. Unfortunately for them, their luck didn’t improve against Preston.
Despite the hosts having more of the ball, the Reds were in control of the match throughout. However, Martin O’Neill’s side were ultimately let down by poor decisions by the officials for the second time in a week. Joe Lolley’s goal was ruled out for a supposed foul by Ryan Yates on Declan Rudd, but the replays showed there wasn’t much in it.
It’s been a very frustrating week for the Reds. They have done more than enough to secure back-to-back away wins which would’ve seen them head into next week’s East Midlands Derby having won three in a row. Ultimately though, they’ve only been able to come away from them with two points.
In short, O’Neill seems to have got the Reds organised at the back and producing much-improved performances. Considering the run Preston have been on, a draw isn’t a bad result on paper. Despite this, it’s still not easy to accept when the Reds were denied three points by poor officiating.
Preston arguably came into this match as favourites. They have been on a very good run in the Championship of late. Alex Neil’s side beat league leaders Norwich City 3-1 at Deepdale in midweek. For the Reds to keep a clean-sheet in this game, goes to show how far they’ve come defensively under O’Neill.
A game of few chances
This scoreline seemed unlikely before kick-off considering the two sides haven’t played out a goalless draw since March 1910. However, as the match developed, both sides were seemingly struggling to create many chances.
One of Forest’s best chances came on the stroke of half-time as Lewis Grabban was denied by a fingertip save by Declan Rudd. The 28-year-old goalkeeper produced an inspired performance against Norwich in midweek which seems to have given him a lot of confidence.
Despite the Reds having the better of the game, Preston did have a few good chances themselves. Their main opportunity fell to Brad Potts. Costel Pantilimon made an instinctive save to deny the 24-year-old midfielder’s volley from around 12 yards out. The Romanian goalkeeper has noticeably improved since O’Neill’s arrival at the club.
However, the main talking point after the full-time whistle was Tim Robinson’s decision to disallow Lolley’s second half effort. There doesn’t seem to be any suggestion of a foul from Yates in replays that have been circulated since, meaning Lolley’s goal should’ve stood.
Play-offs now looking increasingly slim
In this case, the most infuriating aspect of the Reds being denied another win is that it makes their objective of getting in the play-offs even harder. They still remain only four points off. However, both Middlesbrough and Derby have two games in hand. If Forest can beat the Rams next Monday, then it would give them a chance.
Following the conclusion of today’s match, Seat Pitch rounded up exactly what Reds supporters had to say about the game.
I support a team and have done for 55 years / we have a glorious past but after 20 years out of the top flight, we are being turned over not by the opposition but by officials week in week out – it’s a shambles #nffc
— red_claudius (@red_claudius) February 16, 2019
Awful refereeing, again. In any industry away from football this consistent poor performance would be dealt with, but the spineless @EFL will no doubt turn a blind eye. The Championship is a very popular league and this standard, week in week out, is frankly inexcusable. #nffc
— 🔴⚽Lambonumberfive 🇬🇧🇨🇮 (@lambonumberfive) February 16, 2019
Robbery again. It’s getting a bit tedious !!!#NFFC
— Lee Farnsworth (@leefarny) February 16, 2019
This O’Neill bloke seems to know what he’s doing…. think most have even given up moaning about the team selection now aswell. Happy with the progress at the minute 👍🏻 #NFFC
— Nicky Long (@Nicky_Long) February 16, 2019
Inconsistent all season, at least 6pts full on stolen, and yet still 8th in the league mid Feb 🤔🤔🤔, weird #nffc
— PHS (@29011987ASH) February 16, 2019
In my eyes O’Neill has won 4, lost 2. #NFFC
— Neil Blake (@NMBLAKE) February 16, 2019