Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City played out a Boxing Day stalemate this afternoon, in a game which lacked any real quality throughout.
This one saw two sets of managers coming up against their former clubs in Chris Hughton and Aitor Karanka, with the pair both undoubtedly urging their side to return to winning ways in the league.
It was Forest who started off the better team, and after threatening with two long-range efforts early on, Sammy Ameobi and Ryan Yates had the hosts’ best chances in the first-half.
The latter, on the half-hour mark, forced a fine save out of Neil Etheridge with a thunderous volley from close-range, following Lewis Grabban’s knock-down after Yuri Ribeiro’s cross.
Three minutes later, it was Ameobi’s turn to force Etheridge into action. The winger made space for himself on the edge of the area, but could only find the goalkeeper’s gloves with a tame, curling effort.
Having scored three goals in their last two games, Aitor Karanka will have been left disappointed by his side’s lack of firepower in the final third in the opening 45 minutes.
They could only muster one shot in the first-half, and would be left frustrated as Jeremie Bela – who did well to shrug off Ameobi – saw his goalbound effort blocked by his own teammate, Marc Roberts.
Forest broke quickly, with Alex Mighten on the receiving end of a professional foul from Harlee Dean – he was given a yellow card for his troubles.
That was to mark the end of what had been a rather drab first-half, with Karanka likely to have been the most frustrated out of the two managers at the interval.
The Spaniard had watched Jeremie Bela seemingly be pulled back by Tobias Figueiredo as he threatened to beat the offside trap and bear down on goal, however Jeremy Simpson was to wave play on.
Karanka was forced into making a change at the interval, too, with their most creative outlet, Alen Halilovic, having to come off early in his full debut for Blues after picking up an injury.
Gary Gardner was to replace the Croatian playmaker, as Karanka looked for his side to assert their dominance in the middle of the park.
Blues were to have the first real chance of the half, registering their first shot on goal on 53 minutes. A careless Samba Sow lost out to Ivan Sanchez, who glided forward and into the area before playing in Ivan Sunjic. The Croatian’s low shot saved well by Brice Samba on the angle.
Karanka’s men were slowly coming into this one, and they wasted another good chance moments later when Bela mis-hit his volley inside the area, following a poor defensive clearance.
Birmingham’s improvements saw Hughton make his first changes of the game on the hour mark, with Anthony Knockaert and Lyle Taylor replacing Sammy Ameobi and Samba Sow. Another attacking change was to be made shortly after, too, with Joe Lolley replacing Alex Mighten.
As Forest looked for more inspiration going forward, they nearly found it as Joe Lolley got himself in behind and pulled a cross back for Lewis Grabban, who was unable to make a good connection with the ball.
But Birmingham could well have broke the deadlock late on, though. On 77 minutes, smart hold-up play by Scott Hogan resulted in Ivan Sanchez picking up the ball, drifting into the area before forcing a smart save out of Samba with a low, curling drive.
Both sides huffed and puffed towards the latter stages of the contest, with Joe Worrall pulling a cross back for his defensive partner Tobias Figueiredo, who had a shot blocked well from inside the area.
Looking to have one last throw of the dice as six minutes of stoppage time were added on, Karanka replaced the lively Hogan with Lukas Jutkiewicz.
But despite late pressure from both teams, it ended goalless on Trentside.
Forest stretching their unbeaten run to three games, but struggling to break down a Birmingham side who have now drew six games on the road this term.