Late penalty drama denied Nottingham Forest a win at the Hawthorns on Tuesday night as Martin O’Neill’s men secured a 2-2 draw with fellow promotion-chasers West Bromwich Albion.
Forest got off to a terrific start and took the lead inside the sixth minute. Brilliant pressing gave the Reds the ball back outside the West Brom area and Jack Colback played a terrific one-two with striker Lewis Grabban before sliding the ball across the face of goal for academy graduate Ryan Yates who saw his wayward shot go in off defender Stefan Johansen.
Ten minutes later, Joe Lolley found some space inside the West Brom box and tried to put his side further ahead with a left-footed effort, but he was denied by the body of an onrushing defender.
West Brom were looking to put pressure on the league leaders and in the 37th minute Jacob Murphy whipped a dangerous ball across the face of goal but Forest ‘keeper Costel Pantilimon was off his line quickly to gather.
In the 53rd minute, the Baggies almost scored a stunning equaliser. A cross from the left found Rekeem Harper 20-yards out and his first-time volley had Pantilimon beaten but cannoned away off the woodwork.
Only seconds after going so close, the home side then did draw level. The Forest defence failed to deal with a cross by Dwight Gayle and after a scramble in-and-around the 18-yard box, Jacob Murphy was on hand to slot into the back of the net.
Ryan Yates had claimed Forest’s opening goal only to be denied by the TV cameras who awarded it as a Johansen own goal. There was to be no denying him in the 65th minute however as the young midfielder got his first Forest goal to put his side back ahead, drilling the ball in off the post after it had fallen to him from Jack Robinson’s long throw.
Forest then had a great chance to kill the game as Lolley sent Grabban clear, but the prolific forward’s powerful shot was saved well by ‘keeper Sam Johnstone.
With time running out, West Brom were searching for an equaliser but Gareth Barry’s half volley in the 86th minute flew well over the Forest goal.
They were then gifted an opportunity to draw level as referee Lee Mason awarded them a penalty. Gayle controversially went down in the area under pressure from Alexander Milosevic, despite there appearing to be no contact, and Jay Rodriguez stepped up to rifle the spot kick under Pantilimon.
There was more controversy as Forest stormed up the other end and Lolley appeared to be hauled down by Kieran Gibbs but their appeals were waved away with the Reds left having to settle for a point on the road.
FOREST XI (4-1-4-1): Pantilimon (GK); Janko, Milosevic, Benalouane, Robinson; Watson ©; Lolley, Colback, Yates (Yacob 77’), Osborn; Grabban (Murphy 79’)
SUBS NOT USED: Steele (GK), Carvalho, Goncalves, Bonatini, Ansarifard
WEST BROM XI (4-3-3): Johnstone (GK); Holgate, Dawson, Adarabioyo, Gibbs; Livermore © (Barry 64’, Harper, Johansen (Hoolahan 70’); Murphy, Rodriguez, Gayle
SUBS NOT USED: Bond (GK), Mears, Bartley, Field, Tulloch
REFEREE: Lee Mason