Lewis Grabban rescues point for Nottingham Forest against Birmingham City

Lewis Grabban’s stoppage-time penalty rescued a point for Nottingham Forest against Birmingham City, in what was a truly dismal game at St. Andrews. James Edginton reports

Chris Hughton’s side travelled to St. Andrews looking to bounce back from a poor 2-0 defeat to Huddersfield. Forest made two changes from their defeat against the Terriers, with Lyle Taylor and Luke Freeman replacing Anthony Knockaert and Lewis Grabban.

Their opponents, Birmingham, had been enjoying a revival under the management of Lee Bowyer, who had taken practically secured the Blues’ Championship status. Forest had won just one of their previous six matches against Birmingham.

If you had hopes of excitement, it would probably have been better to watch paint dry than watch the first half. It was an incredibly dull opening 45 minutes, which saw little action of note.

Forest dominated possession, but without ever really threatening the hosts. However, as the first half ended, for those that were watching, there was some excitement, with one big chance at either end.

Harlee Dean should have put Birmingham ahead, but his header was saved from point-blank range by Brice Samba. But, immediately after, Forest went even closer, with Ryan Yates heading against the crossbar, meaning that at half-time the score was still deadlocked.

If the first half was poor, Nottingham Forest made a dreadful start to the second, with the visitors caught napping immediately after the restart. Samba bailed Forest out, with a smart save to deny Iván Sánchez, but the deadlock was broken from the resulting corner, with Marc Roberts scoring a simple header to give the Blues the lead.

James Garner tried to summon a response for Forest, but his low drive flew wide of the target. Forest’s best chance of an equaliser came through Lyle Taylor, who pounced on a loose pass, but could only hit a tame shot straight at Neil Etheridge.

Birmingham could and should have doubled their advantage, with Cyrus Christie almost turning the ball into his own net and Roberts being denied by Samba. But, somewhat unbelievably, Forest rescued a point, with Scott McKenna being fouled in the box and Grabban coolly converting the penalty.

However, despite the point, it was a second consecutive abysmal performance by Nottingham Forest, who are not ending the season well.

Hughton said: “Credit to the team because we had a really good chance through Lyle Taylor before the penalty but I think we have to look at it as a very good point. In the first 20 minutes I thought we were good and were the better team but after that I thought we were second best for the remainder of the game and we are fortunate that they didn’t take a couple of further opportunities after they had scored. If they had taken those chances then we certainly wouldn’t have got anything from the game.

“The longer the game goes on at 1-0 then you’re looking for that little bit of fortune and certainly Lewis’s strike for the penalty was one of quality. I can’t say that we deserved the draw but because we pushed right until the end, we got it. In our good run, we hadn’t been conceding from defensive mistakes or from set-pieces but in the last two games, that’s exactly what we’ve done. We know we have to improve our attacking game and find the solutions to get the goals to win football matches as well.”