|A point each from this exciting 2-2 draw should help as both Forest and Wolves seek to cement their positions in the play-off zone.
Games between Wolves and Forest are often interesting, sometimes controversial and always exciting. Both sides are capable of scoring goals but Forest were faced with one of the meanest defences in the division this evening, one that had not conceded a goal in 446 minutes of football before arriving at The City Ground.
Paul Hart had to ring the changes for this game as injuries started to take their toll. Gareth Williams (foot) is out for three weeks, while Darren Huckerby and Jon Olav Hjelde were also missing due to hamstring problems.
Despite the enforced changes, Forest started brightly, but so did Wolves and we were treated to some end to end football in the opening minutes.
Wolves broke the deadlock on nine minutes when Denis Irwin pumped a long pass forward. The ball bounced at an odd angle, which fooled Michael Dawson, giving Nathan Blake time to collect the ball and hold Dawson off before blasting the ball in from 10 yards out.
The chance of an equalizer came ten minutes later as man-of-the-match Andy Reid blasted in a fierce cross, but David Johnson’s diving header was always rising and went over the bar.
Wolves were in charge at this point, but Forest were not without chances, Marlon Harewood blasted his low shot just wide of the far post after being put through by Johnson.
Nevertheless, Wolves doubled their lead on 25 minutes when Paul Ince sent a ball over the top. Colin Cameron was quickest to react and pouncing on the ball he fired it low and hard into the bottom corner.
Forest had been in the same place just a week ago, 2-0 at Ipswich, they had turned the game around and won 4-3. Wolves looked a more difficult prospect, but such is the character of this young Forest side, that their heads never went down.
Five minutes short of the break and the Andy Reid show was in full swing. The young Irish international cut in field from the left and slipped a lovely ball through for Johnson, who sprang the Wolves offside trap and drilled the ball under the impressive Matthew Murray in the Wolves goal.
The second half continued much as the first had ended, with Forest just shading it, but Wolves proving very difficult to break down, Joleon Lescott looking particularly impressive in the Wolves defence.
Andy Reid had a quieter second half, but was always dangerous when in possession, and he had the chance to grab the equalizer just after the hour mark when he managed to drill his shot through the crowded box but just wide of the far post.
Michael Dawson’s mistake may have cost Forest the first goal, but the 19-year-old made amends for it on 74 minutes when he bagged the equalizer. Riccy Scimeca’s free kick floated in and Johnson did enough to put off Murray when he tried to catch the ball instead of punching it. Dawson launched himself at the loose ball and headed it goalward. The ball crossed the line before Lee Naylor wrapped his foot around it to clear it.
Both sides went in search of the winner, Ward denying Blake and Murray making another fine save to keep out a rocket of a shot from Harewood.
A win for either team would have all but guaranteed a play-off place, however, a point each was probably a just result for two sides that provided an entertaining evening’s football.
After the game Paul Hart was keen to praise the ‘character and commitment’ of his players, saying: “We conceded two bad goals in the first half but we played some excellent football and showed great character to get level.
“You would not want to work with a better set of lads than the ones I have got and they are a great credit to this Club.
“Even when we were two goals down we didn’t panic or start lumping the ball forward and that is always pleasing for a manager.
“We’re on a very tight schedule at the moment and the games are coming thick and fast. We’re also playing some of the best teams in the Division but I think we have acquitted ourselves pretty well.
“Wolves are a very good side with masses of experience so I have got to be delighted with the way we fought back.”
Wolves’ manager Dave Jones was disappointed that his team had lost a two-goal lead. He said: “If I had been asked before hand about a point I would probably have taken it but when you are two goals in front you start to think differently.
“This is not the easiest place to take anything away from so at the end of the day we’ve got to be pleased with the point. I think looking at the overall picture it was probably right.”