The Bluebirds finished 2015 with a battling 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest at Cardiff City Stadium - Aron Gunnarsson cancelling out Oliver Burke’s early opener.
AN EXPLOSIVE START
The Bluebirds began the brighter of the two teams, passing the ball around crisply and playing with a high tempo. The first big chance of the game arrived inside the opening five minutes. Tony Watt laid the ball off to Craig Noone who fired a wicked cross towards the six-yard box where fellow winger Anthony Pilkington could not quite direct his header goalwards.
However, this initial momentum was brought to a halt when Forest won possession high up the field. After some incisive build-up play, the ball found its way to Oliver Burke just outside the Cardiff penalty area. Not thinking twice, the midfielder curled the ball with the outside of his boot into the far corner of the net, giving David Marshall no chance in the City goal.
The Bluebirds refused to let their heads drop, however, and were back level a matter of minutes later. Kenwyne Jones received possession down the left flank and, holding the ball up well, the big striker cut it back to Aron Gunnarsson. The Iceland captain unleashed a shot from long range that took a crucial deflection off the Forest defender, deceiving Dorus de Vries and finding the back of the net. City had their tails up following their equaliser and nearly took the lead soon after with another headed chance for Pilkington.
The Bluebirds were having the majority of the opportunities; Joe Ralls saw his shot well held by de Vries from just outside the area. Shortly afterwards, Kenwyne Jones played in his strike partner Tony Watt who was bearing down on goal only a few yards out. Unfortunately, The Scot couldn’t find a way past de Vries who saved expertly, diving low to his left.
GAME SETTLES DOWN
After the interval, City were again the quicker side out of the blocks, looking to push into the Forest half at every opportunity. Tony Watt, lively as ever, was brought down after an excellent run towards the opposition penalty area. From the resulting free kick, Joe Ralls struck a vicious shot against the wall, Noone then collected on the right hand side before whipping in a delivery that Gunnarsson headed narrowly wide.
The game began to settle down slightly, as it would have been a tall order to the keep up the intensity of the first half for the whole ninety minutes. There were some half chances for City with a near Forest own goal from a back header and Lee Peltier firing a shot into a crowd of players at the edge of the box. However, there were few clear cut chances as the game approached its final stages.
FRUSTRATING FINAL MINUTES
With around a quarter of the game left City were controlling possession and searching intently for that elusive winner. The introductions of Sammy Ameobi and Peter Whittingham had offered fresh impetus to City’s attacking play and they were camped in the Forest half for long spells.
However, the away side were still looking a threat on the counter attack and they came within a whisker of going in front. Substitute Ben Osborn skidded a low cross along City’s six-yard box which Jamie Ward, at full stretch, could not quite connect with, much to the relief of the Cardiff faithful.
The Bluebirds were still searching for a winner during injury time. Tony Watt made another dangerous run into the penalty area, surrounded by defenders, he floated a ball over which substitute striker, Federico Macheda, just failed to connect with, following some heavy pressure from the Forest defenders. However, the final chance of the game fell to Forest, Henri Lansbury stung the palms of Marshall with a rasping drive and from the rebound, substitute Nelson Oliveira missed a gilt-edged chance, skying the ball over with the goal at his mercy.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
Scorers: O.Burke ‘9, Gunnarsson ‘13
Cardiff City: Marshall, Peltier, Fabio, Manga, Connolly, Gunnarsson (Whittingham ’69), Ralls, Pilkington, Noone (Macheda ’81), Jones (Ameobi ’65), Watt.
Subs not used: Moore, Malone, O’Keefe, Mason.
Nottingham Forest: de Vries, Lichaj, Mills, Hobbs, Mancienne, Ward, Trotter, Williams (Osborn ’71), Tesche, O. Burke (Lansbury ’85), Blackstock (Oliveira ’80).
Subs not used: Evtimov, Mendes, C. Burke, O’Grady.