Nottingham Forest held AFC Bournemouth to a goalless draw at the City Ground on what was a chilly Saturday afternoon in the East Midlands.
Both sides were to cancel each other out despite a couple of good chances for the hosts in the second half, with Forest producing a solid defensive performance over the course of the 90 minutes.
Following a 3-2 win over Birmingham last weekend, days before booking their place in the FA Cup quarter final after a victory at Burnley in midweek, Bournemouth had every right to be confident heading into this one, and they started the game looking like a side who had their tails firmly in the air.
Junior Stanislas caused the hosts danger straight away, latching onto Steve Cook’s long punt forward before testing Brice Samba from close-range. The Cherries were to make an unwelcome change moments later, though, as Cook hobbled off with a groin problem, with Lloyd Kelly replacing him in defence.
On 10 minutes, a lapse of concentration from Forest nearly led to Stanislas netting an opener. The dangerous winger received the ball after taking a short corner, before dancing his way into the penalty area and curling an effort narrowly wide of the far post on the angle.
The visitors continued to apply the pressure. Jack Wilshere drove forward and played a ball through to Arnaut Danjuma who found space out wide on the left. The Dutchman got to the byline and teed a cross up to the back post. Brice Samba failed to claim the ball before Shane Long headed over the bar with a looping effort. A let-off for Forest.
The hosts did manage to work their way into the game, though. Shortly before Long’s effort, Anthony Knockaert had forced Asmir Begovic into a low, diving save with an effort from close-range. Begovic fumbled the shot slightly, but managed to recover with Glenn Murray looking to pounce on his error.
Forest knew they would have to be patient as they looked to break down a well-drilled Bournemouth side, capable of carving out chances with their undeniable talent in the final third. A good spell in possession resulted in James Garner shooting narrowly wide from the edge of the area on 34 minutes.
But both sides were lacking that final bit of quality in the final third, as the half-time whistle blew to bring the opening 45 minutes to a close.
A quiet start to the second half followed, with both sides sitting deep and trying to find ways to break one another down. In fact, it took until the hour mark for either side to carve out a chance.
It was Forest who came close, with Anthony Knockaert fizzing in an in-swinging delivery from the right, finding the head of Joe Worrall who glanced a header narrowly wide. Worrall returned the favour 10 minutes later, spraying a fantastic cross-field ball over to Knockaert, who controlled the ball and flashed an effort well over the bar.
Jonathan Woodgate, undoubtedly keen to see more ambition from his side in the final third, introduced David Brooks on 66 minutes, with the Wales international replacing Wilshere. Sam Surridge and Phillip Billing also being brought on soon after.
But Forest continued to test the Cherries, with Glenn Murray making a good run and glancing a header towards goal from point-blank range following Filip Krovinovic’s corner. Somehow, his effort was denied on the line by Begovic.
Two minutes were to be added on at the end of the contest, with Stanislas having an effort deflected narrowly over the bar via Joe Worrall. But in the end, the spoils were shared, and the game ended 0-0.
That’s now one defeat in 11 for the Reds, who more than matched Bournemouth in every area of the pitch. It was that final piece of quality in the final third which evaded both sides on a chilly afternoon in the East Midlands…