Honours even in City Ground stalemate
- Chris Kavanagh
AFC Bournemouth shared the points with Nottingham Forest as the Championship rivals battled out a 0-0 draw at the City Ground.
Both teams had presentable chances to win with Junior Stanislas going close for the Cherries and Glenn Murray seeing a header cleared off the line.
It was a tremendous defensive showing from the visitors who lost captain Steve Cook to a thigh injury after just five minutes.
Ben Pearson was drafted in for his first league start for the club following his impressive showing during the FA Cup win at Burnley in midweek.
Pearson was one of three changes made by caretaker-manager Jonathan Woodgate from the Cherries’ 3-2 victory over Birmingham in their last Championship game.
Diego Rico and Stanislas returned to the starting line-up, with Lloyd Kelly and David Brooks named on the bench, alongside goalkeeper Mark Travers, recalled this week from his loan spell at Swindon.
Forest included former Cherries striker Murray, signed from Watford last month, while Lewis Grabban and Lyle Taylor were among their substitutes.
Steve Cook’s long pass from his own half picked out Stanislas who tried to loft the ball over Brice Samba, only for the Forest goalkeeper to clutch it.
The Cherries were forced into an early change when Steve Cook was replaced by Kelly just five minutes in, the skipper appearing to have hurt his groin.
A clever free-kick ended with Asmir Begovic comfortably saving from Filip Krovinovic after Cafu had teed him up around 30 yards from goal.
The Cherries created an opportunity in the 11th minute when Stanislas curled his shot narrowly wide following a well-worked corner with Jack Wilshere.
Begovic recovered to gather Anthony Knockaert’s ball into the danger zone as Murray prepared to pounce before the visitors went close through Shane Long.
The loan signing from Southampton stretched to meet a cross from Arnaut Danjuma and put his header over the crossbar, with Wilshere instrumental in the build-up.
Krovinovic blazed his effort over the crossbar at the opposite end before Forest skipper Joe Worrall prevented Long from latching on to Wilshere’s neat flick.
Cameron Carter-Vickers did well to hold off Luke Freeman as the pair chased down a through ball and Pearson beat Krovinovic to a loose ball in midfield with a strong challenge.
Long looked to get on the end of Adam Smith’s cross in the 28th minute but it was just ahead of him, with Forest eventually clearing for a corner.
Carter-Vickers outjumped Murray to clear Knockaert’s dangerous centre before James Garner dragged his shot wide of the target after seizing on the loose ball on the edge of the box.
Defences dominated during the latter stages of the opening period and the Cherries looked solid at the back following their early reshuffle due to Steve Cook’s departure.
Rico charged down Knockaert’s shot at the start of the second half before Kelly nipped in front of Murray to clear Freeman’s cross.
Pearson’s stray pass was seized on by Freeman but the Cherries’ recent signing from Preston made a splendid recovery tackle to avert the danger.
Worrall met Knockaert’s free-kick at the far post but again the visitors stood firm to ensure the move came to nothing.
Another Knockaert free-kick flashed across the face of the goalmouth with Worrall’s glancing header drifting wide.
David Brooks replaced Wilshere midway through the second half and saw plenty of the ball after coming off the bench.
Knockaert tried his luck from distance, only to fire high over the crossbar before Pearson was caught late by Cafu and needed a spell of treatment.
Forest went close to drawing first blood when Murray shook off his marker to meet Krovinovic’s 78th-minute corner at the near post.
But fortunately for the visitors, Pearson was well placed to divert the ball with his thigh on to Begovic’s chest and the former Cherries striker was denied an opening goal.
Kelly blocked Knockaert’s shot before Worrall’s timely intervention prevented Danjuma from testing Samba in the closing stages.
Stanislas took aim from a tight angle in stoppage-time but Forest skipper Worrall stuck out a leg to divert the ball over the crossbar.