Steve Cooper gains his first point for Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Millwall at the City Ground, in Steve Cooper’s first game in charge. Francis Moore reports

Forest welcomed Millwall today as new manager Steve Cooper took his place in the Forest dugout for the first time. The Reds were hoping to go consecutive games unbeaten for the first time this season, as they faced a Millwall side who had drawn their previous three games.

Forest started the better of the two sides with Lewis Grabban forcing Millwall keeper Bartosz Bialkowski into an early save. After that, however, the Reds struggled to get forward and were often penned into their own half.

Fans may not have noticed many differences between this game and Hughton’s last, but there was a clear emphasis to play the ball on the ground.

Millwall were the side creating the most chances, and after 30 minutes their efforts were rewarded when Matt Smith towered above Joe Worrall to head the visitors in front. The Lions could have added a second shortly after, but Shaun Hutchinson’s header went sailing over the bar.

An injury to Grabban saw him replaced by Lyle Taylor, but the forward had an uneventful end to the first half with the home side failing to trouble the Millwall defence.

Forest started the second half on the front foot, and just five minutes after the restart the hosts were level. Max Lowe’s incoming cross caught Bialkowski off guard and found its way into the back of the net. It was a fantastic finish from Lowe, even if it was unintentional.

Millwall nearly retook the lead 10 minutes later, but Tobias Figueiredo made a superb challenge to deny the visitors, before Smith fired the rebound against the crossbar.

Forest went close again late on, as some nice team play ended with Brennan Johnson sending the ball across the box — but no one was able to get on the end of it. There was definitely more of an attacking presence from the Reds today — they kept getting balls into the box but there was never anyone to convert.

Millwall looked more likely to take the lead in added time as they frequently worked the ball into the box. Lowe, however, was on hand the clear the danger and the game ended level.

It was more of the same from Forest, but that can be expected as it will take time for Cooper’s tactics to be implemented.

Despite looking poor in the first half, the Reds were drastically improved in the second. Special recognition should be given to Djed Spence and Lowe. Both full-backs have been excellent since arriving this summer and there was more of the same today: two brilliant performances.

A draw was probably a fair result, but Millwall can feel hard done by after hitting the bar in the second half. It wasn’t the most impressive performance but it’s a point to build on. Forest can now look ahead to two tough away fixtures against Barnsley and Blackburn respectively — can they keep their unbeaten run going?

Steve Cooper said after the match: “You have two choices when things are going against you and you’re not winning: you either accept it and get beaten or you roll your sleeves up and you try and get back into it. We didn’t quite finish off the task by getting the three points but we did our best — we got back in the game. And even though we will play better in the future, we did go and try to win the game.

“We did get in a lot of good positions, we did get down the side of Millwall’s back three and we could have done better with the final pass, we could’ve created more chances than we did. And we will do that going forward because we have enough ability in the team, and I want to get enough players up the pitch that can really get at the opposition. Especially here, we’ll be trying to win every game — that’s the mentality we’re going to have — but especially here.”