Report: Nottingham Forest 0 Blues 0

Ivan Sanchez came closest to taking all three points.

Blues picked up a well-deserved point at Nottingham Forest in the Sky Bet Championship.

In a game of few chances, Ivan Sanchez came closest to taking all three points when he saw an effort saved ten minutes from time.

The draw ends a tricky spell for Aitor Karanka’s side ahead of their final game of 2020 at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium against Derby County.

Blues will go into that game in 17th place after 21 matches played.

There were three changes to the side that played Middlesbrough at home a week ago. Alen Halilović was handed his first start with compatriot Ivan Sunjic also back in the XI and there was a return after injury for George Friend.

Forest looked to assert themselves on Blues in the early stages, but neither Sammy Ameobi’s nor Ryan Yates’ long-range efforts severely threatened Neil Etheridge’s goal. And the solid opening from Karanka’s side continued with Marc Roberts easing Samba Sow aside as he moved into the penalty area and Harlee Dean heading clear a free-kick.

The hosts came closer in the 31st minute as Ryan Yates hooked the ball goalwards, but the sharp reactions of Etheridge proved more than a match. At the other end, Jeremie Bela appeared to have been pulled back as he stole a yard on Tobias Figueiredo, only for the referee to signal play on much to Blues’ frustration.

However, in truth, there was little to write home about from a half where the Scrooge-like backlines of both sides ultimately cancelled each another out.

Half-time: Nottingham Forest 0 Blues 0

Gary Gardner was introduced at the break, with Halilović withdrawn through injury, and Blues looked revitalised from the interval with both Sunjic and Bela seeing attempts saved and blocked respectively. The Angolan threatened again in the 66th minute with his curling effort forcing Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba into a flying save.

Blues’ pressure continued through a series of set pieces, including utilising Roberts’ long throw, only for the home side to squeeze the ball away on each occasion.

There was, however, nothing they could do when Ivan Sanchez took flight in the 80th minute. Sidestepping Forest players, he was only denied by the strong hands of Samba with Scott Hogan just unable to reach the rebounding ball.

With the clock approaching 90, Etheridge made a regulation save from Figueiredo’s shot on target which proved the last notable action in the game.

It was an encounter that could not be described as a Christmas cracker but, crucially, goes down as a result and performance which ends a losing run ahead of two home games either side of the New Year.

Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1): Brice Samba, Cyrus Christie, Tobias Figueiredo, Joe Worrall, Yuri Ribeiro, Samba Sow (Lyle Taylor 61), Ryan Yates, Sammy Ameobi (Anthony Knockaert 61), Cafu, Alex Mighten (Joe Lolley 68), Lewis Grabban (captain).

Substitutes not used: Jordan Smith, Loic Mbe Soh, Gaetan Bong, Carl Jenkinson, Miguel Guerrero, Harry Arter.

Booking: Ribeiro 36, Grabban 64, Yates 90.

Blues (4-2-3-1): Neil Etheridge, Maxime Colin, Marc Roberts, Harlee Dean (captain), George Friend, Adam Clayton, Ivan Sunjic, Ivan Sanchez, Alen Halilović (Gary Gardner 46), Jeremie Bela Scott Hogan (Lukas Jutkiewicz 90).

Substitutes not used: Andrés Prieto, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Kristian Pedersen, Mikel San José, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Riley McGree, Jonathan Leko.

Booking: Dean 42, Colin 90.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson