Nottingham Forest 1-1 Brentford: Bees stung by 10-man Reds in entertaining draw

The City Ground played host to the only Sunday kick-off in the Premier League this weekend. Forest returned to home comforts having suffered defeat at champions Manchester City last time out looking for their second home win of the season, while Thomas Frank’s Brentford were humiliated by Everton at home.

NFO: Turner; Aurier, Niakhate, Boly, Murillo; Mangala, Sangare; Dominguez; Elanga, Hudson-Odoi; Awoniyi

BRE: Flekken; Hickey, Pinnock, Collins, Ajer; Jensen, Norgaard, Janelt; Lewis-Potter, Wissa, Mbeumo

After an impeccably observed tribute to Forest academy product Maddy Cusack, who tragically passed away last week, the game got underway at the City Ground. 

Steve Cooper’s side looked to assert themselves from the off, as an early free kick was won by Anthony Elanga. The free kick was whipped in by Callum Hudson-Odoi, only for the away side to clear their lines well.

Brentford struggled to get a foothold in the opening minutes, as they thought they had conceded the opener in the 8th minute, but Taiwo Awoniyi’s close-range finish from a Forest corner was ruled out for offside.

Forest’s persistence would almost pay off as Awoniyi received the ball from Hudson-Odoi and squared it across to Elanga, but the former Manchester United man couldn’t find the bottom corner with an effort that instead drifted just wide.

For all of Forest’s first-half domination, however, Brentford did create the best chance of the game just before half-time, as a nicely-worked free kick by the visitors saw Aaron Hickey’s low ball into the Forest box almost turned in by Yoane Wissa at the far post, but the Congo international mistimed his run and couldn’t steer the ball home. 

The second half opened with both sides looking to reassert themselves in the game, with the first clear-cut chances of the second period falling the way of the visitors. Matt Turner failed to clear his lines and Wissa latched onto the ball. The Congo international’s effort was rolling into an open net, only for Willy Boly to clear off the goal-line at the last minute. Vitaly Janelt then saw a later effort deflected just wide of the near post.

A good start to the second half for Brentford got even worse for Forest, as Moussa Niakhate was sent off for a second bookable offence following a yellow card for the first half; the red card being awarded for a studs-up challenge on Yoane Wissa.

Thomas Frank’s side then got the goal their start to the second 45 had deserved, as from the resulting free-kick, Christian Norgaard headed home past Matt Turner to give the Bees the lead, although referee Paul Tierney had to consult VAR for confirmation as to whether the Danish international was offside or not in the build-up.

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Although being a man light, Forest then found an equaliser in the 65th minute. Substitute Harry Toffolo received the ball from the middle of the park and delivered a lovely ball in towards Nicolas Dominguez, whose superb header looped over the outreaching Mark Flekken and into the back of the net – another goal on home debut for a Forest player, following Hudson-Odoi’s stunner against Burnley.

With just three minutes to go until the 90 minutes was up, substitute Neal Maupay had a golden chance to put Brentford back in front, as the Frenchman turned towards goal and fired a low effort straight into the arms of Forest stopper Matt Turner. Bryan Mbeumo then had another chance to give the Bees late on, but his first touch was too heavy and Morgan Gibbs-White cleared the ball to thwart any potential danger.

As the game entered a staggering 13 minutes of added time, Bees substitute Mads Roerslev received the ball from Maupay just outside the box and delivered a lovely ball in towards Mbeumo, whose header subsequently floated over the bar.

It was then Forest’s turn to try and find the winner, as two substitutes combined, with Divock Origi’s ball into the Brentford box finding Chris Wood, but the New Zealand international headed just wide of the far post.

Two successive chances for Thomas Frank’s men saw Michael Olakigbe drift into the box and fire an effort towards goal, only for Turner to block the ball on the line, and Christian Norgaard’s fierce long-range strike just evade the top corner. The Danish international’s excellent strike proved to be the last big chance of the game, as the spoils were shared.

Next time out for both sides, Nottingham Forest travel to Crystal Palace next Saturday for a 5:30pm kick-off, while Brentford make the trip to Manchester United on the same day – 3pm kick-off.