Nottingham Forest 1 PNE 1
Simon Makienok opened the scoring almost on the stroke of half-time, tapping home from close range after a superb run and header across the six yard box by Greg Cunningham from Daniel Johnson’s clever ball across the field.
But the ball unluckily bounced off a post from Thomas Lam’s shot and off the back of Chris Maxwell’s legs mid-way through the second half to give Forest a point.
In reality North End could have been three up before the ten minute mark as they started at a high tempo, dominating possession and creating plenty of chances.
The first and perhaps best opportunity came after only 69 seconds when it took a brilliant save from Vladimir Stojkovic in the Forest goal to deny Callum Robinson opening the scoring. The match-winner from the previous game collected Marnick Vermijl’s deflected shot and was one-on-one with the home custodian, but the keeper got down well to block the close range effort and somehow it was smothered clear.
Simon Grayson had made one change to the starting line-up from the win over local rivals Blackburn Rovers, with Alan Browne coming into the side in replacement of Jordan Hugill; the team also changing from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2 and it was the Irishman who went close next.
He saw an effort saved by the feet of Stojkovic and then Robinson blasted across the face of goal after the No.37 had broken down the left and did superbly to beat David Vaughan to the ball on the touchline creating the opportunity.
Alex Baptiste was playing as part of the back three, but showed his ability as an overlapping wing back on ten minutes when he made a superb run, exchanged a one-two with Makienok and drove to the edge of the box, before firing inches wide of the left hand post from 20 yards.
However, the Reds keeper was again standing as a one man wall between PNE and an opener and it was Stoikovic again on 13 minutes, with his best save yet. This time it was an unbelievable diving stop to tip Alan Browne’s 25 yard shot onto the stanchion, just keeping it out of the top right hand corner.
Chris Maxwell had been virtually a spectator for the first half hour, but was required to make a smart save from Ben Osborne who had got in a good position, but a narrow angle almost on the left byline, the PNE goalkeeper getting behind the effort and forcing it behind for a corner.
Despite the chances, it looked as though the game was going into the interval goalless until Johnson spotted a superb pacy run from deep by Cunningham and put over a great ball from the right hand side 40 yards out right onto the head of the yellow-shirted No.3 and he headed back across the six yard box for Makienok to have a simple tap in, into empty net from five yards out.
The home side started the second half much more brightly and whilst the yellows were down to ten men with Ben Pearson off the field injured, before Ben Pringle could come on to replace him, Matty Cash forced an excellent low save with his legs by Maxwell, conceding a corner to the home side.
Maxwell was now repeating what his opposite number had done in the first half, this time making a superb scoop save low to his left from Cash, to deny the midfield man on the volley from 15 yards, on the hour mark.
The Welsh stopper then tipped Nicklas Bendtner’s effort around the right hand upright after he had broken away when Alex Baptiste went to the ground after colliding with the former Arsenal man.
But it was the unfortunate Maxwell who conceded the equaliser. The home side broke in numbers, with the ball switched out to the right before being pulled back to Lam on the penalty spot. He could only find the post with his shot, but it ricocheted off the back of Maxwell’s legs and into the net to level matters up.
Pajtim Kasami was only on the pitch ten seconds when he drew another fine save from the PNE goalkeeper with 15 minutes left, his right foot effort palmed around the post after another good ball in from the right by Pereira.
Another substitute Apostolos Velios was only denied by a superb block on the line by Tom Clarke, with the North End captain the last line of defence after pressure down the left hand side from Forest.
As the game entered the last ten minutes North End’s second change, Jordan Hugill, was inches away from putting the yellows back in front when Alex Baptiste crossed to the back post and the striker headed past Stojkovic and just wide.
This brought a flurry of chances for the visitors; Stojkovic making two more superb saves; the first from Alan Browne from 20 yards and then the one-on-one follow up from Makienok, who had reacted first to the push out from the goalkeeper.
An extraordinary stop from Baptiste then kept out Velios as the game was end to end, hooking a ball that had looped over Maxwell off the goaline, onto the cross bar and back into the hands of his keeper and this was the last of a plethora chances for both sides, who had to settle for a point.
Nottingham Forest line-up: Stoikovic, Lichaj, Mills (c), Osborn, Bendtner (Velios, 66), Pereira, Vaughan, Perquis (Traore, 46), Lam (Kasami, 74), Cash, Worrall. Subs not used: Henderson, Mancienne, Carayol, Grant.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Vermijl (Huntington, 88), Cunningham, Baptiste, Clarke (c), Wright, Browne, Pearson (Pringle, 51), Johnson, Makienok, Robinson (Hugill, 78). Subs not used: Lindegaard, McGeady, Grimshaw, Spurr.
Attendance: 15,864 (709 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr T Harrington