Billy ensures spoils are shared at the City Ground...
FOREST 1 (Fryatt 45+1), UNITED 1 (Sharp pen 54).
Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Lichaj, Mancienne (Paterson 89), Wilson, Hunt (Burke 70), Fox, Lansbury, Tesche, Fryatt, Blackstock (Assombalonga 41), Antonio. Subs. De Vries, Lascelles, Osborn, Ince.
United: Silvestri, Byram, Pearce, Cooper, Warnock, Bianchi, Mowatt, Cook, Adryan (Morison 67), Antenucci (Doukara 85), Sharp (Tonge 77). Subs. S Taylor, Berardi, Del Fabro, Montenegro.
Referee: R East
Booked: Mancienne, Antonio, Lichaj (Forest), Byram (United).
Att: 22,664 (1,850 United)
United head coach Neil Redfearn made one change for the teatime kick-off at Nottingham Forest as Billy Sharp returned to the starting line-up in place of Souleymane Doukara, who joined Steve Morison and Brian Montenegro among the substitutes.
It was the hosts who had the first sight of goal, Henri Lansbury blasting over a speculative half-volley on two minutes before Mirco Antenucci’s strike was deflected into the arms of Karl Darlow in an otherwise scrappy opening 10 minutes at the City Ground.
A flowing move down the United right then saw Tommaso Bianchi set Byram free and hurtling into the penalty area, where he found the advancing Alex Mowatt. The midfielder’s effort was deflected behind for a corner from which Redfearn’s men came closest to breaking the deadlock.
Antenucci saw his initial strike pushed away by Darlow after taking a nick off a Forest defender on its way through, before Jason Pearce fired the rebound over from six yards out. Forest then had the ball in the back of the net at the opposite end, only for Matty Fryatt to be denied by the linesman’s flag on 21 minutes after turning in Michail Antonio’s cross.
Stuart Pearce’s side threatened through former United loanee Dexter Blackstock, heading Antonio’s cutback into the grateful arms of Silvestri, but that proved to be the striker’s final involvement as he limped off to be replaced by Britt Assombalonga four minutes before the break.
The game appeared destined to remain goalless at half-time, but it was Forest who opened the scoring in stoppage time through Fryatt, poking home Michael Mancienne’s downwards header from close range.
But United were back on level terms within just eight minutes of the restart, Sharp emphatically slamming a penalty straight down the middle and past Darlow after Byram was brought down inside the area.
A flurry of chances then came Forest’s way as they looked to retake the lead almost immediately. First, Jack Hunt was found unmarked at the back post but could only scuff his chance into Silvestri’s arms. Antonio then cut inside and forced a stunning one-handed save from the United goalkeeper before Fryatt again saw an effort ruled out for offside.
The game was starting to open up as both sides sensed a winner could be there for the taking. United broke forward at pace, Lewis Cook skipping past a number of Red shirts before teeing up Sharp at the back post, who saw his volley squirm behind for a corner after Darlow’s stop.
Redfearn was prompted into his first change of the evening on 67 minutes, replacing Adryan with Steve Morison, but Forest were the ones doing all the pressing as Tesche and then Lansbury were both denied by fine Silvestri saves with 15 minutes remaining on the clock.
The Italian stopper then smothered substitute Chris Burke at the back post but United remained a danger on the break. Doukara stepped off the bench and had Darlow scrambling to push away his drilled effort as the game entered four minutes of stoppage time.
Lansbury lashed over and Assombalonga headed wide for Forest, but there proved to be no late winner as the spoils were shared at the City Ground.
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