Nottingham Forest drop points in 2-2 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers

Nottingham Forest failed to make their late dominance count as they were held to a 2-2 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers, a result that moved them a point away from the relegation zone. George Edwards reports from the City Ground

It was there for the taking.

Gary O’Neil was a frustrated fellow in the opposing technical area for the last 20 minutes. His side looked happy with the point, having gotten themselves level just minutes after Forest had taken the lead in the second half. Time-wasting and easy passes, O’Neil wasn’t impressed, the only man of a Wolves persuasion trying to instigate a push for the three points.

Forest should have capitalised, and they certainly had the chances. The golden one was presented to Divock Origi, after fellow substitute Rodrigo Ribiero sent him through on goal, one-on-one, and in the box. The forward’s lack of confidence was summed up as he attempted to find Chris Wood at the far post, when shooting was the only option.

However, they shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. The Reds’ second-half strike from Danilo complemented his solid display, a lead Forest deserved and looked comfortable with.

Just five minutes later they were pegged back, by a set piece, of course. It’s now 22 non-penalty goals conceded from set plays. Twenty-two. A league high.

Matz Sels even bailed his side out as they gave towering defender Max Kilman a free header, but even when the Belgian kept that one out, they failed to clear and Matheus Cunha bundled home for 2-2.

Had Forest taken all three points, they could approach their match against Everton next week content with a draw; now a win seems imperative. It was a performance that would have merited the victory, but missed chances and abysmal set-piece defending cost Forest once again, a theme that gets more and more ridiculous as it continues to repeat itself.

The Reds started well and looked ready for the fight, aware of what a win would do for their survival chances.

Four opportunities came and went in the opening 15 as Neco Williams, Ryan Yates (twice) and Callum Hudson-Odoi all tried their luck from distance, none of the trio able to find the back of the net.

Gio Reyna, making his first Premier League start in the absence of Anthony Elanga, could have put the Reds one up as he pounced on a loose ball and drove goalwards, shooting wide from the edge of the box despite having space and time.

Forest didn’t take their chances and fell stagnant in the middle of the first half, allowing Wolves to pounce.

They were unlucky not to be ahead when disaster occurred as Forest tried to play out, Yates’ stray ball falling to Pablo Sarabia in the box. He beat Sels but was denied by more Murillo heroics as he nodded off the line.

Yet more horrible defending followed for Wolves’ opener, which came five minutes before the break. Cunha was alone on halfway and Andrew Omobamidele had countless chances to lunge in and take the ball, as he is so good at doing. The Irish defender didn’t and followed Cunha as he broke into the Forest half, eventually cutting inside from the right, evading Yates and dispatching clinically into the far corner.

Despite the defending, that one is bound to win goal of the month.

But it wouldn’t be a Forest vs Wolves fixture without Morgan Gibbs-White having his say. The midfielder was taken off set pieces for this one, as the manager favoured Danilo and Reyna, but was finally able to have an impact from one as he nodded the latter’s corner past Jose Sa, on the brink of half time.

Forest started the better in the second period but the chance never really looked on, until the 57th minute.

When Danilo found Gibbs-White in space, with runners around him, you sensed this would be the moment. It took three or four lucky ricochets as the ball eventually fell back to Danilo in the box, but once it did there was no doubt, calmly controlling and quickly striking into the bottom corner, as the City Ground erupted.

As we know, that eruption was soon extinguished and, despite being the side trying to win it, their efforts came up short as the points were shared.

This may be sounding overly negative, as it does feel more like two points dropped rather than one gained. Despite decent delivery, Reyna failed to replace Elanga, offering little defensive cover and taking few risks with his attaching play.

But there were positives. Nuno Espírito Santo seems to have settled on a line-up and if Elanga was eligible, it’s likely Forest would have named the same side for the third game running. Ribeiro finally earned his chance and took it, looking confident in himself for the brief cameo he was given. Plus, the desire was there to fight until the end in the search for the winner.

The worry is going to Goodison Park next Sunday. You expect an aerial bombardment, and with the lack of height in Forest’s backline and their set-piece frailties, it looks a daunting prospect.

Should Forest go down come May, these frailties would arguably be to blame more than their point deduction. They’ve had countless chances to learn their lesson and improve their points tally; we can only hope the improvement comes as the Reds approach their final five games.

Follow The Famous Club on:

Google News | X (Twitter) | Facebook | Instagram | Flipboard | Reddit | WhatsApp | Bluesky