REPORT: Nottingham Forest 2 Blues 2

Blues and Forest played out a 2-2 draw in Saturday's late kick-off.


It was agony for Blues at the City Ground as they had a first win of the season snatched away from them in dramatic fashion.

Dominant in the first-half, Blues led through a brilliant header by Lukas Jutkiewicz in the 20th minute.

And substitute Che Adams doubled the advantage with 18 minutes left with a crisp, sure 20-yarder.

That should have been that for Blues – and victory would have been deserved, overall.

But Forest hit back through Joe Lolley (75 minutes) and then Daryl Murphy followed-up to equalise in the 87th minute to leave Garry Monk’s men wondering what could and should have been.

Blues – fielding the same starting eleven for the third league game in a row – started brimming with purpose, intent and aggression.

Forest were thrown off kilter. Blues attacked at will, were there on all the second balls. It was a like a yellow-shirted swarm all over their hosts, who were unable to gain any sort of foothold until around the hour mark – 65 minute mark.

First up, nifty footwork by Omar Bogle on the left of the area fashioned a chance for the striker, manoeuvring inside past one challenge, but his grass-cutter of a shot just went wide of the far post.

And from a 17th minute free-kick, near the left angle of the area, Gary Gardner fired a strong shot over the wall and only just past upright, as Costel Pantilimon stood rooted. Another close shave.

Sure enough, Blues excellent start gained its reward.

A loose pass by Ben Watson in midfield was seized upon by Jacques Maghoma, who surged on down the inside left channel.

Maghoma lofted a cross into the area towards Jutkiewicz, who had pulled away into a good position.

Even so, it was a brilliant connection by Jutkiewicz on the header; falling away, he guided the ball expertly back across the ‘keeper and it looped and drifted beautifully inside the far post.

It was Blues first goal in 381 minutes of football.

For a further 15 minutes Blues refused to let up. Forest – who made six changes to their side - were second best in all departments. Another goal was in the air.

From a driving run down the middle by Jota, Danny Fox went through him with a yellow card tackle to stop another dangerous attack.

Jota squared up to Fox, and three of his team mates straightaway sprinted to the incident to back-up the Spaniard – it was that sort of spirit, togetherness and ‘one for all’ mentality from Blues that Forest had no answer to and summed up their first-half performance.

Half-time: Forest 0 Blues 1

Not surprisingly, Forest began the second period with far more zip to their play. They knew they had to try to match Blues in that respect and they enjoyed far more possession and passing sequences.

Forest soon brought on their £13 million record signing from Benfica Joao Carvalho to add to the mix.

It was almost an hour before there was real alarm for Blues when Forest sprung away on a four versus three break.

Carvalho and Matty Cash swapped passes and only fine work by Michael Morrison, who shut down Cash, stopped a shot on goal from a decent position.

After another introduction by Forest, of Ben Osborn, Blues made their first change by bringing on Adams for the hard-working Bogle in the 67th minute.

Moments later Blues spurned a glorious chance to provide daylight between themselves and Forest.

Jota and Maxime Colin worked a lovely overlap down the right and from the latter’s pull-back behind the red shirts of Forest’s defenders from near the byline, the ball came invitingly to Maghoma – but he stuck it straight into the midriff of the ‘keeper from 14 yards.

But Blues then did get that all important second goal, and what a finish it was from Adams, in the 72nd minute.

Jutkiewicz won a towering header from a diagonal free-kick by Kristian Pedersen and Maikel Kieftenbeld nodded the ball forward into Adams’ feet, on the 18-yard line.

Adams swivelled swiftly and drilled the ball low into the bottom corner with a fierce right-foot drive – some execution, that.

But three minutes later Forest gained a lifeline through substitute Lolley, with what was his first kick.

A free-kick was headed out by Jutkiewicz and Lolley, who had seconds earlier sauntered onto the pitch after the change, found it in front of him and he  absolutely belted it on the half-volley past Lee Camp from outside the area, an unstoppable effort.

So the game was again back in the balance.

And frustratingly Forest plundered another goal, from nowhere, with just three minutes on the clock.

Lolley again tried his luck from range, hitting a left-footer that Camp could only parry as it possessed plenty of power.

The ball rebounded fortuitously for Murphy, onto his chest, and he promptly stuck it past the Blues ‘keeper from deep on the left-hand side of the box.

It was a horrible ending for Blues but back they came and substitute Connor Mahoney tricked his way into a decent position on the byline and sent over a cross-shot that Pantilimon had to keep out at his near post.

And into stoppage-time they caused more moments of panic for Forest but ultimately were left to rue the missed opportunity to get up and running with a first three points of the campaign 

Forest (4-2-3-1): Pantilimon, Robinson, Figueiredo, Fox, Byram (Lolley 75), Colback, Watson (Osborn 66), Dias, Murphy, Soudani (Carvalho 56), Cash. Subs not used: Steele, Osborn, Goncalves, Bridcutt, Hefele.

Goals: Lolley (75), Murphy (87).

Bookings: Figueiredo (32), Fox (41) Murphy (45), Colback (84).

Blues (4-4-2): Camp, Colin, Pedersen, Morrison, Dean, Jota (Mahoney 85), Kieftenbeld, Gary Gardner, Maghoma (Solomon-Otabor 73), Jutkiewicz, Bogle (Adams 67). Subs not used: Trueman, Roberts, Lakin, Harding.

Goals: Jutkiewicz (20), Adams (72).

Referee: T Robinson.

Attendance: 26,799.