Nottingham Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi cut a frustrating figure as his side missed the chance to go third in the Sky Bet Championship, only managing a 1-1 draw at home to Middlesbrough on Tuesday evening, writes Liam Kent.
The Reds had the better of the play throughout the game, especially during the first half, but they lacked the quality to claim the three points with Ryan Yates second half header being cancelled out by a Paddy McNair penalty.
Speaking after the game, Lamouchi called on his side to show more “character” and be more clinical in seeing out games.
“We need more character, especially at home, because the game was in our hands,” said the Frenchman.
“My players deserve a victory, but sometimes you need to take the victory with more character.
“We’re maybe afraid to win but we must play for the second goal, we must close out the game. If we don’t achieve a second goal, don’t give them anything.
“We must make the difference in the first half. We played well in the first half, we created a lot but we didn’t score.”
Forest did have the better of the opening period but they were ultimately unable to capitalise.
They started the brighter of the two sides and looked the most likely from the off, Joe Lolley forcing Aynsley Pears into an early save with a curling shot from the edge of the area.
Matty Cash was next to try his luck and after charging forward from right back, his low shot fizzed wide of the upright.
Middlesbrough’s first real venture forward came just before the half hour mark with Ashley Fletcher seeing his difficult headed chance easily saved by Reds’ stopper Brice Samba.
Former Leeds player Jonny Howson then had a very optimistic effort from 30 yards out but it soared over the bar.
The Reds started the second half on the front foot, looking to take the initiative, and Sammy Ameobi saw an early effort palmed away at the near post by Pears.
At the other end, Samba saw his palms stung by an effort from Paddy McNair who cut in from the right after beating Jack Robinson with ease.
The best chance of the game so far came in the 58th minute when Ryan Yates struck the frame of the goal with a half-volley from the edge of the box.
Forest finally got the opener in the 64th minute to relieve some of the tension building at the City Ground. Matty Cash got forward from right back and his cross into the middle, found Yates who headed home from close range.
After they took the lead, Lamouchi believed his side lost control of the game which ultimately allowed Middlesbrough a way back into the contest.
“I thought we controlled the game until the goal,” the Forest chief claimed.
“Playing not so good in the second half, we scored so the most important thing was to make the difference but after the goal, we stopped playing.
“We gave them the possibility to take the ball and to play more direct and push us back.”
Forest’s were given a warning moments before the equaliser when McNair hit a wayward shot from a good position but they were unable to steady the ship and with ten minutes remaining, clumsy play by Jack Robinson saw him give away a penalty, McNair sending the ball high into the roof of the net to level the score.
The Reds pushed to retake the lead but were unable to do so, Joao Carvalho sending a free kick into the hands of Pears late into the added time, leaving Lamouchi reflecting on three games without a win.
“I am upset like the players because we lost two points”, summarised Lamouchi.
“We have a lot of regret. The last two minutes in the Milwall game and tonight, it’s a lot of points.
“We just need to find a solution. We need to keep going and be positive.”
Saturday’s visit of Sheffield Wednesday to the City Ground is Forest’s last home match before Christmas.