The Curse of Kids for a Quid strikes again.
This was definitely a match to be filed in the archives as 'One of Those Games.' I remarked to my wife midway through the second half that it was like watching me play as Nottingham Forest on FIFA 14: pass pass shoot block pass shoot deflection block pass shoot block shoot miss goal kick. I wasn't even disappointed when the equaliser went in as it was so obvious it was going to happen.
Billy Davies, the ink still drying on his extended contract, had certainly picked an attacking side, with the only changes from the 3-1 win at Brighton being Djamel Abdoun and Gonzalo Jara replacing the suspended duo of Nathaniel Chalobah and Eric Lichaj respectively. Kelvin Wilson was fit enough to take a place on the bench following his absence due to a back injury.
When watching the officials warm up I was amused to see that one of them looked slightly overweight, with what hair he had left appearing a silvery-grey colour. I didn't expect him to be the referee! More on him later.
The match kicked off in front of a pretty full City Ground with a very respectable number of Bournemouth fans having made the long journey north. Their team started brightly too, with the striking duo of Lewis Grabban and the wonderfully-named Tokilo Rantie looking dangerous up front. The game's first chance fell to the latter, who latched on to an awful Andy Reid back-pass to race clean through, only to be denied by a brilliant stop by Karl Darlow.
This near miss woke Forest up and Abdoun made some decent runs down the right. One of these ended in a shot which Bournemouth keeper Stephen Henderson could only parry. Simon Cox was entitled to go for the rebound and did so, but caught Henderson in the process. From the way the Bournemouth stopper started thrashing around it was clear he was hurt and after a lengthy stoppage for treatment he was replaced by substitute Ryan Allsop. At the time of me writing this I hadn't read exactly what happened to Henderson. Hopefully he'll make a speedy recovery.
The stoppage, and another one for an injury to one of the referee's assistants, put the dampeners on what had been an exciting start. Things soon pepped up again though as first Simon Cox then Henri Lansbury missed decent chances to give the hosts the lead. Bournemouth continued to look dangerous on the break though and Darlow was forced to parry away another effort from Rantie.
Forest continued to toil away, passing nicely but with no end product and getting caught offside so many times I thought that Dexter Blackstock had snuck on when nobody was looking. But eventually the breakthrough came. Another shot was blocked before the ball fell to Lansbury and his long-range curling effort was beautifully struck, giving substitute keeper Allsop no chance. The Reds were then forced into their own change with the injured Danny Collins being replaced by Wilson. Bournemouth top-scorer Grabban hit the woodwork with a low shot during the seven minutes of first half stoppage time and Forest managed to get to the break with their slender lead intact.
Bournemouth were once again faster out of the blocks following the break but Forest started to gain control. The second goal just wouldn't come though. Chances were created but either blocked or squandered, with Darius Henderson (clearly not a good day for Hendersons) being the worst culprit. A fresh-air shot from a Cox pass was followed by an almost comical miss of an open goal after he'd stumbled past the visitors' goalie. Poor Darius wasn't having his best game.
The almost inevitable refereeing inconsistency was starting to frustrate too, with what looked like a brilliant challenge by Jara being punished, and what seemed like a blatant push on Abdoun being ignored. Darlow being booked for timewasting seemed harsh too. Biased? Me? Never. Forest did have the ball in the net for a second time as a Reid corner was headed in by someone. The goal was ruled out though, presumably for some pushing.
Unease abounded round the stands and it came as no great surprise when, just after five minutes of second half stoppage time was announced, Bournemouth drew level. Mark Pugh's low drive came after a spell of sustained pressure and, once again, the failure to kill off a game had cost Forest dear. Unsurprisingly Bournemouth slowed things down after equalising and the referee further frustrated the home fans by seemingly doing nothing about it, and the final whistle was met with a chorus of boos that were part anger, part disappointment.
Once again Jack Hobbs was outstanding. Strong and solid he also times his tackles incredibly well. A proper centre-half. Abdoun looked lively all game too. Lansbury took his goal brilliantly but an off day by our strikers arguably cost us the win. As against Charlton, a second goal would probably have secured the points. I mean no disrespect to Bournemouth when I say that. A one goal lead was always going to be tenuous - and so it proved - but I genuinely think a second goal would have been too much for the visitors to come back from.
We'll play worse than this and win for sure, and we'll probably play better and lose. But we're still at the right end of the table and there's still a long, long time to go.