FULL TIME: Wanderers 1 Nottingham Forest 1
WANDERERS fought back to earn a deserved point against high-flying Forest thanks to Matt Mills’ first goal of the season.
The big centre-half grabbed a point with a second-half header after Jamie Paterson had given Billy Davies’s promotion chasers the lead a minute after the break.
It was Wanderers’ ninth home draw of the season and, with better finishing, could have been more. But Forest – whose constant time-wasting tactics were as frustrating as they were incomprehensible – will also point to a string of saves from Andy Lonergan.
The first half proved an entertaining affair even though it remained scoreless.
Mark Davies returned to the side after illness and brought an early save out of Karl Darlow, while at the other end, Andy Lonergan was quick off his line to stifle a shot from the cumbersome Greg Halford.
The Whites keeper made an even more impressive save a few moments later, clawing a header from Jamaal Lascelles from under his own crossbar.
Wanderers then took the ascendancy, David Ngog scuffing one effort at Darlow from close range before Jermaine Beckford’s clever backheel presented a chance for Chung-Yong Lee drilled into the side-netting.
That proved to be Beckford’s last action, and he hobbled off the pitch moments later to be replaced by Andre Moritz.
Wanderers continued to press and Ngog was desperately unlucky to see a close-range effort deflect off defender Jack Hobbs and on to the roof of the net.
Home fans were also calling for a penalty when Forest defender Dan Harding appeared to handle a long ball over the top from Chung-Yong.
Forest threw on another striker in Simon Cox to partner Halford and Billy Davies’s decision was instantly rewarded as the former Swindon man fed Jamie Patterson to chip a shot over Lonergan and open the scoring.
The game grew gradually more frustrating for the Whites as Forest consistently strived to slow the pace down, and more so when a couple of good set pieces were wasted by Jay Spearing in and around the box.
Things changed for the better when Andre Moritz picked up free-kick duties, and his first was swung directly on to the head of Matt Mills to equalise with 15 minutes to go.
It was the defender’s first goal of the season, his last having been against Watford in September 2012.
That set up a tense finale. At one end Forest fans were appealing for a penalty after Tim Ream got in a tangle with Cox, at the other, Moritz was denied by a last-ditch block after weaving his way in on goal.
Forest then hit the post with five minutes to go as sub Darius Henderson stabbed a shot at goal, Lonergan making another full-length stop from Reid’s follow up.
Mills then came close to a second, forcing Darlow into a low save with a fiercely struck shot from the edge of the box.
Referee Michael Naylor underlined Forest’s timewasting by signalling six minutes of added time and it was the visitors who came closest to winning it, Paterson bringing another smart stop out of Lonergan at his near post.