Nottingham Forest were unable to return to winning ways in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday afternoon, after being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Barnsley.
The Reds were unable to find the net despite a couple of good chances in front of goal, on an afternoon was there very little quality on offer from both sides.
In an attempt to solve their creative woes and add a bit of inspiration in the final third, Forest brought in Filip Krovinovic on loan from Benfica last week. The Croatian went about making an immediate impact on his debut.
Starting in the number 10 position, he combined well with Sammy Ameobi down the right channel early on, with the latter playing the ball through to Lewis Grabban. Grabban did well to beat Barnsley’s offside trap, but after bearing down on goal, he fired wide of Brad Collins’ near post.
Forest continued to grow into the game after a drab opening 20 minutes, but not before Leigh Doughty waved away a controversial penalty shout for the visitors. Michal Helik was seemingly dragged over as he managed to fashion a shot inside a crowded penalty area, but a corner it was to be.
On the half-hour, Krovinovic was to show his ability on the ball once again. A lovely reverse ball freed Anthony Knockaert down the right, with the winger cutting inside and finding Ameobi who drilled a shot wide.
Krovinovic was orchestrator again five minutes later, floating a perfectly weighted ball over the top of the defence for Knockaert to latch onto. With Grabban for support, Knockaert, with only the goalkeeper to beat, squared the ball for the striker to roll into an empty net. He found that net with ease, but unfortunately for Forest, from an offside position.
The half-time whistle blew and Chris Hughton will have been left encouraged by his side’s performance towards the latter stages of the half, and will have been hoping for more of the same in the second 45 minutes.
Valerien Ismael, meanwhile, will have been hoping for his side to impose themselves a lot more in the final third. They started the second half strongly, with Herbie Kane’s volley forcing Brice Samba into making an excellent diving save to his right.
With Ryan Yates, Jack Colback and Harry Arter all out injured, the last thing Hughton will have needed on 57 minutes was for another midfielder in Samba Sow to go down hurt. Fouad Bachirou subsequently made his long-awaited league debut and replaced the 31-year-old just shy of the hour mark.
Ismael was next to make his first changes of the contest. Victor Adeboyejo and Carlton Morris looking to add more firepower in attack, replacing Conor Chaplin and Dominik Frieser.
Samba was forced into action again soon after. Callum Brittain’s dangerous cross from the right found the head of Woodrow, with Samba keeping out his effort from point-blank range. A golden chance for the Tykes’ leading goalscorer to add to his tally for the season, and break the deadlock for his side.
Chances were few and far between as the game entered its final stages. On 75 minutes, a looping cross from Cyrus Christie found Knockaert at the back post, but the winger was unable to make a clear connection and his effort trickled across goal and wide.
Both sides pushed for a late winner, with Hughton replacing Knockaert with Alex Mighten on 85 minutes.
But with four minutes added on at the end of the match, there was to be no dramatic ending, and whistle blew. A hard-fought point in what was very much a battle throughout.
Forest had their chances to find an opener in the first half, but in the end, a lack of firepower in front of goal cost them. Whether that is to be addressed in the final days of the transfer window remains to be seen…