Let’s be right, a point away at Bristol City with 10 men is a big result for Forest. There’s no doubt we would’ve capitulated in seasons gone by. The commitment to the cause is great to see and at the final whistle, you could see how much it meant to the players, staff and travelling fans! This could well turn out to be a decent point at the end of the season and I’m certain there won’t be too many sides that will limit Bristol City to no shots on target in a home fixture at Ashton Gate.
Bristol were out of the traps early on and some resolute defending by Yates and Worrall set the marker down that there wasn’t going to be repeat of the Forest slumber after the previous international break.
Whilst Yates would turn villain later in the game, he was unlucky not to give Forest the lead with a first time volley that had to be hacked away from the far post with David Bentley well beaten.
Joe Lolley started busily and it’s good to see him playing himself into better form. A couple of jinking runs from the right led to threatening crosses and with Matty Cash playing with great confidence behind him, the pairing is starting to look very good.
Although Bristol had started brightly, Forest were soon back in it and really having a go as the away side. A passage of play ended in Forest forcing an early corner and whilst the next phase was a bit scrappy, Joe Lolley should have done better after a tee up from Tobi Figuerido; his shot being relatively easy for keeper Bentley to palm away.
Forest continued to grow in confidence and was tippified by Brice Samba’s ‘Cruyff turn’ to send striker Dhejiou packing off to the shops!
A great cross from Matty Cash almost reached Sammi Ameobi moments later and as the ball was turned back into the box, Lolley again will be disappointed that he didn’t get more on his shot.
Bristol’s dangerous counter attacking saw Cash’s diving header avert a threat from O’Dowd and Joe Worral stood up to a ball into the box from the next phase. In the first 20 minutes, we were more than playing our part in an end to end game.
Lolley was unlucky to see his deflected 25-yarder loop over the bar when it looked familiar territory that has brought Joe so much success in a Forest shirt. It took City about 25 minutes to get their first real effort on goal with Weismann dragging his shot well wide after some good marshalling from Worrall.
Tiago Silva got Forest going again in midfield with a cracking tackle that set Lolley off on the hunt once more but Sammi Ameobi was pulled up for a foul from his flighted cross to the back post.
Bristol always looked a threat on the ball but Forest’s organised press was particularly eye catching. It was a shame that we couldn’t use the ball a little better when we manufactured good situations to cause greater problems.
The ref continued to be fussy and a suspect decision prevented Sammi Ameobi from creating another Forest break. Craig Pawson hasn’t always been our best ref and considering what was coming later, Forest players should have been more mindful about his attention to detail and generosity to pull out a card or three. Ameobi’s frustration led to a booking a few moments later and he should know better that he can’t hand out the justice!
A rarity occurred just before the break as Brice Samba uncharacteristically made a hash of a corner when you’d have put your house on him to catch the ball with the supreme confidence he’s shown so far this season.
After the break, Silva wriggled himself into a decent position but his decision to shoot wasn’t perhaps the best option given that Joe Lolley, in acres of space, was screaming for the ball to be laid back.
Forest had started a bit sloppily after the break; a number of misplaced passes encouraged Bristol onto us and Ryan Yates’ touch on a ball across the box fortunately came back off the post.
The rushes of blood continued for Forest and Yates was sent off for a reckless two footed tackle. My thoughts on the sending off are this: whilst Yates was rightly sent off, it was sloppy from Joe Lolley in the same phase as he misplaced Matty Cash’s crisp pass. The ball was a good five yards from Yates’ reach. Ryan shouldn’t have gone for it. Simple. He needs to work on his tackling technique because it didn’t look good.
Sadly, Yates is the closest thing we have to Samba Sow’s physicality so a three match ban is going to be a tough one to swallow with Sow still out of action. Frustratingly, Lamouchi was in the midst of making an attacking change with Joao Carvalho primed and ready to go.
Not for the first time this season, we are our own worst enemies at times and its preventing us from becoming a genuine automatic promotion threat. Thankfully we stood up to what was coming for the remaining 40 minutes.
Forest had it all on with the Bristol fans suddenly coming to life but after weathering an initial storm it was Forest looking the more threatening. Joe Lolley’s cross almost fell for Lewis Grabban and Adomah’s subsequent cross had to be clawed away by Bentley.
If Forest had been punished for losing their heads after the restart, a new composure had thankfully been found, most notably with Tiago Silva’s use of the ball from midfield.
Figuerido got a cracking head on a tantalising cross in from the right and it personified the determination to keep Bristol at bay.
Lewis Grabban’s work rate went up an extra gear to support his midfielders and to a man, Forests resolute character was evident. Albert Adomah’s experience was a welcome addition on the left.
Forest were still asking plenty of questions going the other way and almost pulled off the unthinkable for Bristol when the best chance of the game fell to Lewis. As Joe Lolley’s speculative header dropped in between him and keeper Bentley, his volleyed toe poke drifted just wide of the post. Whilst Lewis probably should have scored, I thought he was desperately unlucky.
Despite the inevitable huff and puff from the home side, Weimann should have done better with a chance that fell to him and Figuerido made another timely intervention to keep the score to nil.
Casey Palmer was half asleep in the final moments as he was presented with a decent opportunity and despite a last minute overhead attempt, Forest didn’t look too flustered given the circumstances.
The Forest performance was the epitome of what is developing within the squad and what the manager is asking. There is no doubt that something is growing and if we can tidy our play up a little, we’re only going to get better.
A final thought lays with the social media reaction to Ryan Yates’ red card from Forest fans at the end of the game. There really doesn’t have to be a scapegoat. We all want promotion. We need to look after our own. Any success will be a collective effort so let’s remember that and not go down a familiar path.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 8 – Battled every minute for the point. You love to see it.
SAMBA: 7 – solid for the majority bar the rare uncertain first half moment.
CASH – 7 – arguably his best first half showing of the season. Looking every inch the modern day fullback. Everton can do one!
ROBINSON – 6 – Decent enough from Jack. Still not at the heights of last season but put in a battling performance particularly after going down to 10 men. You’d want Jack in the trenches with you.
FIGUERIDO – 8 – beginning to show the form he enjoyed after initially signing. There’s no frills about Tobi but the longer we can give Michael Dawson to be 100%, the better.
WORRALL – 8 – another big performance from Joe. He’s giving us the leadership at the back that was so badly missed last season.
WATSON – 7 – dependable as ever.
SILVA – 7 – quality is showing up with the ball and showing himself to be every inch the box to box midfielder that’s keeping our record signing out of the team.
YATES – 6 – was having a reasonable game until the sending off. Has to learn from this but doesn’t deserve the demonisation I’ve read on social media.
LOLLEY – 7 – better from Joe once more. I’d bet he held his hand up in the dressing room for the pass that led to Yates’ sending off. Game by game, he’s progressing to the type of form that we know he’s well capable of.
AMEOBI – 6 – a threat as per usual but seemed to lose his head. On a booking with 10 men, Sabri was wise to bring on the more assured Adomah.
GRABBAN – 7 – big effort from Lewis for the last 35 minutes or so with 10 men. Up against 3 centre halves, it was always going to be a tough afternoon. Unlucky not to score.
ADOMAH – 6 – important sun and did his bit.
CARVALHO – 5 – came on in difficult standards.
MIR – 5 – similarly to Carvhalho, his introduction was to provide much needed legs.