A majestic second-half goal from Nottingham Forest striker Simon Cox proved to be the catalyst for the Reds to spring a comeback on Saturday, as they came from two goals down to earn a point against Birmingham and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
With the home side fumbling chances in the first half the teams went into the break level-pegging. However, that first period suddenly seemed a world away when an action-packed second-half sprung into life with the Blues scoring twice within three minutes courtesy of Hayden Mullins and Marlon King.
Yet, despite the blow Forest clung on to hope and an expertly taken goal from substitute Cox spurred the Reds into life before defender Dan Harding slotted home the equaliser four minutes from time to cap off a fine comeback.
On loan Southampton striker Billy Sharp made his full debut for the Reds and came close to opening the scoring early-on when a cross from Sam Hutchinson fell loose from Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland – but the frontman could only hit his shot into the hands of the keeper.
Lewis McGugan looked lively in the opening stages and nearly produced a goal identical to the free-kick he scored in Forest’s last home game against Charlton – however Butland had done his homework and did well to fingertip the ball away.
And a quick counter-attack by Sean O’Driscoll’s men should have seen them break the deadlock but Sharp, McGugan and Adlene Guedioura could not capitalise after a struggle with the Blues defence in the away side’s box.
Then at the other end of the field Birmingham nearly took a shock lead themselves – Blues new signing Leroy Lita sent former Forest striker King through on goal but Lee Camp shot out of his goal and closed down King’s effort well.
And moments before the half-time whistle veteran Reds midfielder Andy Reid was denied a goal after Butland palmed his effort from a free-kick over the crossbar.
The second period proved to have all the drama the first half promised but never delivered. Much of this was thanks to a great substitute by Birmingham manager Lee Clark who brought on midfielder Wade Elliott.
Elliott impacted the game immediately, testing Camp from long-range but the Reds keeper was equal to the effort and grasped the ball well.
However Elliott kept the momentum going and was involved in Birmingham’s opening goal – the former Burnley man finding King whose shot was blocked by Hutchinson before falling loose to Mullins who hit the ball first time into the top corner from 15-yards.
Soon after the Blues doubled their lead as King grabbed the goal he had been searching for – substitute Nathan Redmond found his way down the right past Greg Halford and Reid before picking out King who finished well from the edge of the box low into the bottom corner.
However within two minutes Forest were back in the game with a delightful goal executed by Cox. The former West Brom man had picked up an injury mid-week playing for the Republic of Ireland but showed no let-up when he brought down McGugan’s great long ball expertly before lobbing Butland exquisitely to score.
Forest rallied and pressured the Birmingham goal and as the fans lifted the roof of the City Ground the rush paid off when Halford found space to run forward down the right before finding Harding who drove his shot inside the far post with the help of a deflection from Blues’ defender Pablo Ibanez.
Sharp could have won it for Forest in the dying moments when Reid found the proven goal scorer with a teasing cross – but the frontman’s header sailed over the bar.
Forest are now 6th in the Championship table, with nine points. They sit just two points adrift of league leaders Blackburn.
In their next outing they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Tuesday 18th September. Kick-off is at 8pm.
Nottingham Forest: Camp, Hutchinson, Collins, Halford, Ayala, Gillett (Majewski, 80), Guedioura (Harding, 74), McGugan, Reid, Blackstock, (Cox, 60), Sharp
Birmingham: Butland, Murphy, Caldwell, Pablo, Caddis, Burke (Redmond, 70), Mullins, Lovenkrands (Elliott, 49), Spector, King, Lita (Fahey, 79)
Man of the match: Simon Cox.
Referee: Mark Halsey.