Cox Inspires Forest Fightback - Forest 2-2 Brum
Nottingham Forest proved they have resilience, resolve and strength in character to match their tippy-tappy, easy on the eye football. Two second half goals by Birmingham, looked to have bagged all 3 points for the visitors, until Sean O`Driscoll made the changes that earned the Reds` a more than deserved point.
Forest started the game brightly and were stroking the ball around well, as is now becoming customary. Dexter Blackstock was first to test the visitors, as he headed narrowly over the bar, from a neatly worked move by the home side. Billy Sharp, who was given his first full debut should have given the Reds` the lead on 11 minutes, when another spell of neat football, saw him hit a ball straight at Blues keeper Butland. The keeper was soon called into action again, as he was forced to make a fine finger tip save from yet another quality Lewis McGugan free kick. Butland had to dive at full stretch and put the ball out for a corner, to stop the ball from flying into the back of the net.
The home side were zipping the ball round the park, seemingly at will and were looking more than comfortable at the midway point of the first half. One passasge of play saw the ball won in midfield and played out wide to Billy Sharp. He was sent on his way by a teasing ball from Gillett, that sent the former Donny hit man flying down the wing. Sharp set off with great pace and delivered a telling ball into the box for a well placed Andy Reid. I thought Reid should have took a pop and had a go himself from where he was, but he conspired to make it one pass too many and returned the ball to Sharp. The move broke down and that was the moment when Birmingham were allowed to get a foothold on the game themselves.
It appeared that Forest had taken their foot off the gas towards the end of the first half and were allowing the visitors back into the game. Former Forest striker Marlon King came closest to breaking the deadlock, when he found himself one on one with Camp. An unmarked King picked the ball up just inside the box and tried to side foot the ball around Camp. Fortunately, Camp was alert and raced out to meet the advancing King and was able to make a vital save with his outstretched foot. That was a warning sign to the home side and showed that in King and Lita up front, the Blues should not be taken too lightly.
The second half continued with Birmingham pressing forward. Forest had gone a bit stale and O`Driscoll knew things needed shaking up. He took off Dexter and brought on Simon Cox, who`d declared himself fit following his international injury scare in mid week. The change seemed to awaken the home side from their slumber and they once again sprung into life and looked the more threatening and likely to get a goal, as they took control of the game.
Just as you thought Forest were getting the upper hand, up popped midfielder Hayden Mullins, who struck a great shot passed Camp to give the Blues the lead. Less than three minutes later, Marlon King doubled the lead, sending a shell shocked City Ground into an almost stunned silence. Fair play to the crowd, because that silence didn`t last long. They got behind the lads and roared them on. The vocal support was rewarded with a stunning goal from substitute Cox. Sam Hutchinson hoofed a long ball into the box, which was superbly controlled by the chasing Forest striker. Cox`s first touch
was sublime. He took one touch to control the ball and another to lob it over Butland and into the net. That made it 2-1 to the visitors, with plenty of time for more.
The crowd wanted more and so did the players. Forest pressed hard and were laying siege on the Birmingham goal. The pressure paid off and the home side were rewarded for their efforts with just four minutes left to play. O`Driscoll`s second managerial masterstoke of the day paid off, when substitute Dan Harding got the equaliser. He sent the City Ground faithful into ecstasy as his deflected shot hit the back of the net.
The 2-2 draw was a fair result at the end of the day. Whilst Forest might argue they did enough to bag all three points, the visitors showed signs that they will probably be up near the top of the table as the season begins to unfold. It`s only five games in, but the Reds` do still remain unbeaten. The early signs are good and things continue to look very promising from a Reds` point of view.
Forest: Camp, Hutchinson, Ayala, Collins(c), Halford, Guedioura (Harding 74'), Gillett (Majewski 81'), McGugan, Reid, Sharp, Blackstock (Cox 60').
Subs not used: Darlow, Moussi, Moloney, Coppinger.
Bookings: Ayala 22', Hutchinson 54', Collins 75', Cox 88'
Scorers: Cox 73', Harding 86'
Birmingham: Butland, Murphy, Caldwell(c), Ibanez, Burke (Redmond 70'), Mullins, King, Lovendrands (Elliott 50'), Spector, Caddis, Lita (Fahey 79').
Subs not used: Doyle (GK), Davies, Morrison, Zigic.
Scorers: Mullins 69', King 71'
Referee: Mark Halsey