Billy Davies’ second era as Nottingham Forest manager began with a 1-1 draw on Saturday as 10-man Bolton held off a late barrage of attacks to snatch a point at the City Ground, writes Shaun Wheatcroft.
An entertaining first period failed to produce any goals but Reds’ winger Andy Reid opened the scoring just before the hour-mark with a superb volley that the home side fully deserved.
However, Bolton equalised against the run of play and were soon level courtesy of a goal from Welsh international striker Craig Davies.
The Trotters were then reduced to 10 men when fullback Marcos Alonso was sent off for a second bookable offence. And despite their best efforts, the Reds failed to make their numerical advantage count as the score finished all square.
The new boss made three changes from the side which lost at Bristol City last weekend as Danny Collins, Dan Harding and Dexter Blackstock made way for Elliott Ward, Henri Lansbury and Simon Cox.
The atmosphere inside the City Ground was electric and the players responded by immediately going on the attack from the first whistle – Henri Lansbury testing Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan with a low effort from the right.
And from the rebound off the sprawling keeper Lansbury’s midfield counterpart Radi Majewski forced Bogdan into another save at the other side of the goal.
Lansbury stood out, looking bright in the Forest midfield from the off, and the former Arsenal man had another chance when he scuffed wide from just outside the box after latching on to Billy Sharp’s knock-on.
Bolton were struggling to find a way into the game and were under the cosh when Reid called Bogdan into action once again – the veteran midfielder hitting a dipping effort from 25-yards only to see it slip out of the keeper’s grasp and to safety.
The Reds continued to dominate the first period and Polish star Majewski saw two long-range efforts blocked well by the Trotters’ defence from the edge of the area.
Forest striker Simon Cox then had the best chance of the game just before the interval – Sharp’s through ball found the frontman and he raced through on goal down the left before striking an effort that was bound for the top corner, until Bogdan produced a fine save.
After the break Dougie Freedman’s side looked to have woken from their lumbering first half performance and went close to scoring themselves. Midfielder Mark Davies connected with Chung-Yong Lee’s cross after finding space in the area but his effort on the half-volley flew over the bar.
However, the Reds continued to assert their dominance at the other end of the field and Reid forced Bogdan into another stretching save with a free-kick from 25-yards that looked set for goal.
And it was Reid who finally broke the deadlock just before the hour-mark – Lansbury found the winger with a neat flick and the Irishman did the rest, unleashing a driven volley that powered past Bogdan and into the goal from inside the area.
Yet, the hosts’ lead was nearly lost within minutes when Chris Cohen’s unfortunate back pass to keeper Karl Darlow was misjudged and intercepted by Kevin Davies – the former Premier League striker was left one-on-one, but Darlow prevented Davies from rounding him and smothered the ball.
Soon after, in what was their first meaningful attack of the second period, Bolton equalised. Liverpool loanee Jay Spearing put David Ngog through down the right channel and the striker squared for Craig Davies to blast home.
The goal failed to shake the home side, who went straight back into attacking the Bolton goal. The two danger men again linking up as Reid’s low cross from the left picked out Lansbury whose effort was collected well by Bogdan.
In the closing stages of the game Forest bombarded the away defence going forward. Substitute Darius Henderson glanced a late header over before Algerian midfielder Adlene Guedioura and Majewski both fired high and wide as the match finished level.
The draw moves Billy Davies’ men to within eight points of the play-off positions on 42 points. In their next match they return to the City Ground to face Huddersfield on Tuesday 19th February. Kick-off is at 7:45pm.
Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Jara Reyes, Halford, Ward, Cohen(c), Lansbury (McGugan, 81), Guedioura, Majewski, Reid, Cox (Henderson, 84), Sharp (Blackstock, 68)
Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan, Mears, Knight, Dawson, Alonso, Spearing, Pratley, Mark Davies, Yong-Lee (Craig Davies, 65), De Ridder (Eagles, 58), Kevin Davies(c) (Ngog, 73)
Man of the match: Andy Reid.
Referee: Keith Stroud.
Attendance: 24,409 (Away: 1,514).