An entertaining, competitive affair between Nottingham Forest and Stoke City ended 0-0 on Saturday afternoon as both teams missed good opportunities to seal all three points.
The result leaves Forest still in the play-off places in sixth spot, although they could lose that place should West Bromwich Albion beat Leeds in the evening game.
The game’s first chance arrived in the fifth minute. Stoke winger James McClean won the ball 30 yards out and advanced into space before unleashing a powerful effort which Forest ‘keeper Costel Pantilimon tipped round the post.
Just before the half hour mark, the spotlight was on referee Oliver Langford after a controversial incident. Stoke striker Benik Afobe raced through one-on-one with Pantilimon and as he tried to round the big Romanian, he went down as if he was fouled. No foul was given, and Afobe was not booked for diving, with the Stoke bench furious as Forest played on.
McClean had another chance to put his side ahead in the 39th minute but he dragged his shot from inside the area and it could only find the side netting.
Forest’s first chance of the half came in the 41st minute. Joe Lolley was found by Lewis Grabban just inside the area and he shifted the ball onto his preferred foot before firing a low shot straight at Stoke stopper Jack Butland.
Seconds before the half time whistle, Forest went close once again. Joao Carvalho was picked out in the middle of the area and his goal bound effort was deflected over by Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross.
The Reds could have taken the lead ten minutes into the second half. Butland attempted to play a goal kick short to his defence, but it was pounced upon by Jack Colback with the ball eventually falling for Grabban who smashed a great opportunity over the bar.
Stoke were awarded a dangerous-looking free-kick in the 67th minute, right on the edge of the Forest area. Thomas Edwards stepped up to take it and his low effort beat the wall but was held well by Pantilimon.
As he did in the League Cup meeting between these two sides earlier in the season, Saido Berahino missed a guilt edge chance for Stoke. Edwards delivered a terrific ball to the back post where Berahino was waiting a few yards out, but he could only head over.
In the 84th minute, Lolley almost produced a moment of magic to win it for Forest. He picked up the ball inside the area and worked a shooting opportunity, curling an effort towards the far corner only for Butland to get across and make a stunning save to deny him.
Butland showed once again why he was almost England’s number one at the World Cup as he made another terrific stop. Matty Cash did well to head the ball through for Grabban but Butland was off his line quickly to smother the opportunity and deny the prolific forward.
There was nearly some late heartbreak for Forest as Stoke almost snatched it in the dying stages. A ball to the back post found the unmistakable frame of Peter Crouch and his header looped past Pantilimon but was flicked off the line by the head of Tobias Figueiredo.
FOREST XI (4-2-3-1): Pantilimon (GK); Darikwa, Figueiredo, Dawson ©, Robinson; Guedioura (Yacob 76’), Colback; Cash, Carvalho (Dias 86’), Lolley; Grabban
SUBS NOT USED: Steele (GK), Osborn, Janko, Ansarifard, Hefele
STOKE CITY XI: Butland (GK), Allen, Williams, Etebo (Clucas 76’), Afobe (Crouch 79’), McClean, Martins Indi, Shawcross ©, Diouf (Berahino 70’), Edwards, Woods
SUBS NOT USED: Federici (GK), Martina, Fletcher, Krkic
REFEREE: Oliver Langford
FOREST MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Tendayi Darikwa
ATTENDANCE: 28,556 (2,000 away)