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Match Reports

Match Report : 19/04/2016

19 April 2016

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Report: Forest 1 Rovers 1

Rovers and Nottingham Forest had to settle for a share of the points in an entertaining 1-1 draw at the City Ground.

After a bright opening from Rovers, it was the hosts who took the lead as Dexter Blackstock saw his 15th minute shot creep home.

However Rovers weren't behind for long, as after Hope Akpan had been denied by Dorus De Vries, Danny Graham clipped home a minute later from Ben Marshall's clever pass. 

Forest had a flurry of opportunities in the second half, but the impressive Jason Steele kept the home side at bay with key saves to deny Henri Lansbury and Blackstock.

But Rovers could have snatched all three points in the closing stages as Marshall clipped the bar before substitute Elliott Bennett curled a late effort just wide.

Before the match Paul Lambert made five changes from the side that lost disappointingly against Huddersfield at the weekend.

Connor Mahoney was handed his first start in a Rovers shirt, whilst Elliott Ward, Corry Evans, Jason Lowe and Hope Akpan also came into the side.

That meant a 4-1-4-1 formation for Rovers. Lowe at right back, Mahoney in front of him, Evans as the sitting player in midfield, with Marshall on the left.

Following a nervy opening from the visitors who gifted Forest early possession needlessly,  it was Rovers with the first effort at goal. Marshall cutting in from the left to let fly but his shot was always curling away from goal.

Then swift forward play saw the versatile midfielder feed Darragh Lenihan on the overlap, but whilst the Irishman's centre was too high for Danny Graham, Mahoney arrived at the back post to slide in to connect, however he put the tough chance just wide of target.

But despite Rovers' good forward play, they were hit with a real sucker punch on the quarter hour as Forest took the lead.

A forward ball from Mahoney deflected off a Forest player to send Dexter Blackstock through on goal, Jason Steele got a hand to the effort, but it somehow squirmed through his grasp and into the back of the net.

Rovers were swiftly back on the attack and they should have levelled on 21 minutes. The lively Mahoney with a wonderful through ball for Graham, who cut it back for Akpan but De Vries made a sensational stop low down to keep out his shot.

But just sixty seconds later Rovers were deservedly back on level terms. A lofted ball from Marshall saw Graham get beyond his man and he cooly clipped the ball over the onrushing De Vries and into the net for his fourth goal in blue and white.

Steele was alert to the danger as the home side looked to regain the lead. A quick free-kick from Ben Osborn teed up Henri Lansbury, but the Rovers stopper dived to his left to keep the ball out. 

Both sides were eager in attack in the opening exchanges of the second half, but as the clock ticked towards the hour mark, Lansbury was a whisker away on two occasions.

First only a fingertip save prevented Forest from taking the lead. Making the most of the space afforded to him, the former Arsenal youngster let fly from 30-yards only for Steele to dive to his left to tip the ball over the bar.

Moments later the attacker tried his luck once more from a near-identical position, this time the ball skimming the crossbar on it's way into the stand.

Forest continued to force the pace with Steele once again keeping them at bay. Saving well to keep out a Ryan Mendes shot at the near post, he then showed tremendous reactions to keep out a Blackstock shot with his legs.

Mahoney made way on 71 minutes to be replaced by Elliott Bennett. The 19-year-old can be proud of his first league start for his boyhood club.

Further changes from both sides disrupted the flow to the match as the opportunities dried up in the closing stages, however Marshall saw a cross clip the bar, whilst Bennett was wide with an effort in added time at the end of the game.

FOREST: De Vries, Lichaj, Jokic, Mills, Lansbury (c), Fox, Mendes (sub Burke 73 mins), Gardner, Blackstock, Tesche (sub Assombalonga 84 mins), Osborn.

Subs not used: Evtimov (GK), Cohen, Vaughan, O'Grady, Worrall.

Goals: Blackstock 15 mins.

Booked: Mills, Gardner.

ROVERS: Steele, Lowe, Ward, Hanley (c), Kilgallon, Akpan (J. Gomez 79 mins), Evans, Lenihan, Marshall, Graham (sub Brown 84 mins), Mahoney (sub Bennett 71 mins).

Subs not used: Raya (GK), Williamson, Duffy, Jackson.

Goals: Graham 22 mins.

Booked: Graham, Evans, Lenihan.

Attendance: 16,449 (including 343 Rovers fans)

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