Late Reds heartbreak again as Martin rescues a point for Derby


For 97 minutes at Pride Park, the visitors from just 16 miles down the road put in an almost perfect away performance.

But it was Derby celebrating at the final whistle, in a script that has been repeated often enough to cost Nottingham Forest automatic promotion this season.

As the sixth minute of added time ticked in to a seventh, a free kick was pumped long into the box and the otherwise reliable Brice Samba uncharacteristically flapped at the delivery.

Out of nowhere, Derby were level. Chris Martin got his head to the ball in the ensuing confusion and Tiago Silva couldn’t quite clear the danger before it crossed the line.

It was the fourth time Forest, currently six points off the top two, have conceded an equaliser in the 93rd minute or later away from home in the Championship this season, leaving manager Sabri Lamouchi despairing once again.

Phillip Cocu ponders how to get his side back in to the match (credit: Derby County)

Having been a clear second best all game, Rams boss Phillip Cocu and his staff jumped for joy in the technical area.

The equaliser probably saved the Dutch boss from heaps of criticism, having appeared to get his tactics wrong in the East Midlands Derby.

Samba’s goal was never under threat during normal time, as Lamouchi’s defence stood firm and the in-form Rams’ expected onslaught failed to materialise.

Forest also had enough chances on the break in the second half to score three, four or five and kill the game off.

Their wastefulness in front of goal was a minor blot on a thoroughly impressive performance though – until Joe Worrall made a silly blocking foul off the ball.

The Rams sat unusually deep from the off, trying to tempt Forest out of their typical defensive shape, but it backfired.

By sitting off, they allowed the visitors to fire shots in from distance unchallenged in the opening exchanges.

Nuno Da Costa blazed over, leaning back, before Matty Cash’s effort was well blocked on the other side.

Derby didn’t heed the warning signs though. After 12 minutes, Joe Lolley was allowed to cut inside on his favoured left foot completely unchallenged by full back Craig Forsyth and let rip from 25 yards.

His strike swerved off the outside of his foot and in off the base of Ben Hamer’s far post, to give Forest a deserved early lead.

Samba Sow, in for Tiago Silva, had brought extra energy to the Reds midfield in a trio with Ben Watson and Ryan Yates.

Whoever was nearest pressed Wayne Rooney as soon as he got the ball, meaning the former England playmaker had to drop into defence in an attempt to pull the strings for Derby but had little influence on proceedings.

American winger Duane Holmes and his long throw were their only attacking outlet, but Cocu’s decision to start target man Chris Martin over pacy number nine Martin Waghorn was playing in to the hands of the visitors’ solid defence.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been quite so comfortable with 30,000 home supporters boing their every touch, but Forest were making a local derby look like a training session.

An empty Pride Park during the warm ups (credit: BBC)

The pattern of play continued into the second half, despite the Reds getting deeper after the break.

A second goal on the counter-attack looked far more likely than an equaliser, as the away side created and then spurned a host of chances.

Watson had a volley from the edge of the box well saved after 65 minutes, before Lolley saw another shot from distance parried for a corner by Hamer.

Substitute Sammy Ameobi then beat Rooney to a high ball to set up top scorer Lewis Grabban, but he snatched at the chance and it went wide.

A minute later, in the 73rd, Grabban turned provider to tee up Tiago Silva; he could only watch his placed effort from the ‘D’ come back off the base of the post though, with the keeper beaten.

Grabban then missed perhaps the best chance of the lot – a free shot from the penalty spot.

He had time to take a touch and set himself, before inexplicably digging his strike up and over the crossbar.

Maybe the best chance to kill the game off was youngster Alex Mighten’s one on one in injury time though.

But it looked like none of it would matter and the Reds would head back down the A52 with a deserved three points, especially after Waghorn was dismissed with a minute of additional time remaining.

The substitute took out Derby’s frustration with a vicious, deliberate rake down the shin of Yates and his red mist rightly drew a red card.

The fouled Forest midfielder had epitomised their battling spirit, already wearing a mask after a facial injury against Bristol and carrying on after another nose bleed and a rib injury during the derby, before that nasty tackle.

Finishing aside, they’d done everything right for 97 minutes. Then Derby got a free kick after a needless foul by Worrall, scrambled the ball over the line having created nothing all game and snatched themselves a point that even the staunchest Rams fan wouldn’t claim they deserved.

Martin snatches the late leveller for the Rams (credit: Derby County)

It’s a familiar tale for Forest though, despite how impressive their defence generally is.

Switching off in injury time has ultimately cost them automatic promotion to the Premier League this season, which they’re six points off with five games to go.

On their first game back, Connor Wickham was allowed a free header off a corner to snatch a point for Sheffield Wednesday in the 93rd minute.

Tobias Figueiredo put through his own net in the 97th minute at Reading in January. Brice Samba spilled a shot at Aiden O’Brien’s feet to gift Millwall a 93rd minute leveller at The Den.

They resume against Fulham on Tuesday.

Forest have made a habit of throwing away points deep into injury time, which has cost them a spot in the top two this season (credit: Dan Westwell)


About Author

Comments are closed.