If you had asked any Forest fan pre-game what outcome they’d have predicted last night, the majority would have said a win, what with Boro's league position and all. Sadly that wasn’t to be but when Dele Adebola hit an injury time equaliser, it really did feel as if we had won the game as we moved a precious point closer to Swansea and Cardiff.
It must be said, Forest was very poor on the night – it was like being back at one of our away days towards the back end of last season.
Davies handed starts to Earnie and McCleary – something I had called for post Milwall as they really made the difference. Out went Raddy, Anderson and the away day 4-5-1 as the team lined up as follows:
As with Milwall on Saturday, the first chance of the game fell to the opposition. Julio Arca thumped the ball right at Lee Camp who could only parry it. Chambers duly cleared the ball but only as far as Barry Robson, who smashed it back at Camp this time allowing him to make a comfortable save.
Forest’s main chances in the first half fell to Earnie, McGoldrick and Chambers.
First up Earnshaw. Earnie managed to turn his marker and hit a weak shot straight at Luke Steel after controlling a cross from McGoldrick’s on the right – it may have gone in had Earnie been playing at his best.
Shortly after McGoldrick picked the ball up on the right and weaved through three Boro players before hitting a poor shot right across Luke Steele.
Chambers also had a volley from a Cohen free kick that came to no avail.
Boro were advancing with purpose and the more the half progressed, the more it looked like they would score first.
The biggest thing for Forest in this half though was the injury to Joel Lynch that ended up forcing him off. I don’t half feel sorry for the lad as he was getting better with every game and was slowly winning some fans over. A big chance for Maloney to shine - which he sadly did not do.
Our injury list is getting bigger with every game as Lynch is now added to a list consisting of Dexter, Moussi, Findley, Wilson, Tyson and Konchesky – rumour has it the latter will be back for Hull on Saturday. If you throw a couple more names on that list, you will have a decent Forest XI.
At half time, the scores were 0-0.
In the second half, Boro continued looking the more likely to break the deadlock.
After 47 minutes, McDonald hit a free kick from 25 yards that went curling towards Lee Camp's bottom left corner - luckily he managed to get a hand onto it and push it away.
Boro broke the deadlock moments later. Now I blamed McGugan for this goal as he was simply poor in the build up to it.
Maloney had advanced up the field to play a simple pass to McGugan, who lost it immediately to Lita. Instead of chasing back for it with Maloney out of position, he merely jogged giving Lita a chance to play in an advancing Barry Robson on the right wing. Robson put in a ball across the goal which Julio Arca flicked into the path of Scott McDonald to smash it home. It was woeful from McGugan and typified his poor performance.
When the hour mark came, off went McGugan and on came Ando to add some new ideas to the fledging Forest front line.
The heads had dipped though and Boro continued to search for that second goal to put this game to bed. Camp pulled off a marvellous save from an Andrew Taylor shot that was flying into the top corner.
With time running out and still few Forest chances being created, Dele Adebola was brought on for McGoldrick to offer that bit of something in the air in the hope it’ll lead to something.
Yet Boro continued to dominate and Taylor tested Camp again with another thumping effort after Lita had held it up.
Forest pushed on and Adebola and Earnshaw were involved in a desperate goalmouth scrap that Luke Steele eventually managed to scoop up and hold onto.
Then came a huge penalty shout, when it looked as if Arca had handled a Gunter cross from the left. The referee waved away the protests much to the disbelief of the Forest players and fans.
It looked as if that was it. An ineffective performance where Forest slip up again with little going in our favour.
As the board for injury time went up, Forest pumped as many long balls forward as they could in the sheer desperation to get a goal.
In the 92nd minute with the ball up in the air, Chris Cohen managed to get his head on the ball and get it over into the path of Dele Adebola. It had beat most the Boro defence playing the offside trap and Dele was in. Dele scuffed his shot, but it went over Steele and into the net to snatch a late and vital point for Forest.
As with the Barnsley game earlier on New Year’s Day, I left the game in shock that we’d managed to get something from the game. It weren't half a scrappy point but I guess they all count and no matter what the result was last night, we'd have lost no ground on the teams around us in the play offs.
The only concern is that with injuries mounting and a tough run in coming up, I’d like to think the few back up players in our squad will grasp every opportunity they have to establish a place in time for the Play offs. It worries me that the likes of McCleary come on as a sub in a game, impress, start the next match and then flop. They need to give it their all not just for the clubs benefit but for theirs as well. The defence also needs to knit together with these injuries and really push to stopping leaking in the needless goals.
That said even if we don’t do too well in the next 3 matches against Hull, Sheff Utd and Swansea, I guess when we got promoted from league 1 the 6 wins out of our last 7 games were enough to secure it. If we do that again and if lady luck is prepared to help us out, it'd be typical Forest earning promotion the hard way.
By the time we play Leeds on 2nd April, touchwood most of our squad will be back and fully fit – and no more injuries will have sufficed too - allowing us to have a strong squad in time for the last run in.
Hold onto your hats Forest fans.