Stuart Pearce described the atmosphere in the City Ground yesterday as the best he’s ever known.
Derby County were the visitors and, as usual, the stakes were very high.
More than 30,000 fans crammed into the stadium and provided a cauldron of noise, it was spine-tingling to say the least.
Tensions were already high following the crafty addition of several Bobby Zamora masks, to various road signs along the A52. A painful reminder for Rams fans of their recent play-off defeat.
There is a new voice at the City Ground and it comes in the shape of the lower tier of the Bridgford stand, they are louder than the A block these days and it’s another indication of the “12th man effect” that’s sweeping through the ground.
Forest set up shop exactly as they did, last time out against Sheffield Wednesday, with Assombalonga as the lone striker.
It was surprising really, given that we are top of the league and at home. More surprising was the obvious long ball tactic that Pearce opted for, from the off.
Darlow smashed virtually every kick high and long. Unfortunately, Andy Keogh was first to clear with his head on many occasions though.
I don’t know whether it was due to the international break, but both sides lacked any real quality and the usually immaculate Andy Reid struggled to find his team mates on more than one instance.
Antonio provide the highlight of the half when we finally got the ball on the deck, he skinned Ryan Shotton on every occasion and clipped in a few decent crosses.
As the beating sun shone down Forest looked the better side, but were on the receiving end of some rough and, at times, cynical tackling.
Shotton and John Eustace were the main culprits and both soon received yellow cards.
The spoiling tactics continued and the reds could only muster a handful of chances before the break.
During that first half, both Chris Cohen and Andy Reid hobbled off with injuries.
The second-half was even worse, Derby pinged the ball with some purpose as we chased shadows for a while.
The game changed following a comical pitch invasion by two home fans and one from the away end.
Remarkably the three clowns were able to wander aimlessly around the pitch for a few minutes, unchallenged.
They had free reign to assault any player they wished, which is a scary thought.
By the time they were rounded up, Forest sparked into life. For once Darlow rolled the ball to feet and it soon found its way to Michail Antonio, who dropped his shoulder and fed Assambalonga.
The in form striker turned on a sixpence and smashed home from 12 yards out. Robert Tesche had come on Cohen and he had a decent debut, doing the simple things well.
Chris Burke had his worst game in a red shirt and was at fault for the Derby equaliser on 80 mins.
He rushed into a silly challenge outside the box. From the resulting free kickKeogh planted a header onto the bar and Shotton scuffed home the rebound despite Leon Best claim for the glory. Forest threw on Lars Veldwijk for the final minutes but the honours ended even.
Three things concerned me with this performance. Firstly the long ball approach, secondly that we played one up front at home and finally, that Burke was not substituted for Patterson.
The Scottish winger was a ticking time bomb and was a liability as the game wore on. Patterson wants his chance and that was an ideal opportunity. On the plus side it was Burke who got Jake Buxton sent off for a second yellow five minutes from time though.
We may have lost two midfielders in the game, but we can easily field Vaughn, Lansbury and Tesche against Fulham, on Wednesday. A draw was a very fair result for this scrappy old game, and we’re still unbeaten at the top!
What do you think? Email your views to Stephen Thirkill