Report: Nottingham Forest 2 Albion 2For the second consecutive season a late goal denied the Seagulls a win at the City Ground in an enthralling 2-2 draw.
Henri Lansbury’s 90th minute strike denying Albion what looked like a massive three points against play-off rivals Nottingham Forest.
Leonardo Ulloa had given Albion the lead only for a deflected Lewis McGugan strike to peg Gus Poyet’s men back. Will Buckley looked like he had sealed the win late on but Lansbury’s 90th minute intervention saw the game end all square, bringing the curtain down on an engrossing contest.
However the point is enough to take Albion back into the play-off places ahead of Leicester City, and a point behind Forest.
The City Ground was a cacophony of noise as the match kicked off with the hosts starting on the front foot, with Lansbury pulling the recalled Casper Ankergren into a decent early stop.
Darius Henderson was next to test the Albion keeper, however his low strike was comfortably held before a Forest breakaway almost fashioned an opening goal. The lively Lansbury slipped in Andy Reid only for the midfielder’s eloquent chip to drift safely over.
Tempers temporarily frayed when Danny Collins’ late challenge sent Ulloa tumbling; the captain receiving a booking for his misdemeanour.
Ankergren was in remarkable form, showing no signs of rust as he pulled out a stunning double save.
First he denied Simon Cox at the near post before the ball fell invitingly for former Seagull Henderson who looked odds on to score, only for the Dane to brilliantly block the goalbound effort and Albion cleared the danger.
Poyet’s side were defending resolutely, showing why they have one of the meanest defensive records in the Championship.
And Albion’s best opening of the half came on the break as Buckley latched on to a long ball and burst down the right wing, before teeing up David Lopez on the edge of the area - but the Spaniard’s low strike was blocked.
Ankergren was called into action one last time in the half as he palmed away Henderson’s drive from an acute angle before Ulloa’s flicked header landed safely wide.
Albion nearly got off to a flying start as after the break when once again Buckley broke down the right but the winger’s low cross was cut out.
Ulloa then came closest to giving the Seagulls the lead as he capitalised on a defensive lapse but his curling effort did not find the target.
Dean Hammond was introduced at the break in place of Kazenga Lualua, and the Southampton loanee helped control the centre of the park as the Seagulls claimed more possession.
Albion came close on two occasions in quick succession as Andrea Orlandi’s inswinging free-kick nearly evaded everyone but Karl Darlow managed to beat the ball away. His save though fell straight to Ulloa whose powerful first-time effort was incredibly headed over the bar by Collins on the line.
However the resulting corner brought scenes of jubilation from the 2771 travelling fans, as Ulloa latched on to the loose ball in the box, seeing his first strike blocked, only to smash home at the second time of asking.
Poyet’s men were in the ascendancy and an intelligently worked corner gave Hanmond the opportunity to strike at goal; his mis-hit strike inadvertently found Matthew Upson who pulled another good stop out of Darlow as he turned the ball round the post.
Forest came roaring back, and as expected started to exert some pressure but Albion’s defence stood firm and it was the Seagulls who nearly grabbed another goal.
Ulloa again providing the threat, once again capitalising on hesitant defending, but after a clever turn the Argentinean was unable to direct his strike on target.
It was proving to be an impressive return from Ankergren as once again he thwarted Henderson, beating the striker’s powerful effort away.
But the hosts were not to be denied, with McGugan rescuing Billy Davies’ men with nine minutes to go, as his deflected strike finally got the better of Ankergren, flashing past the Dane and into the far corner.
The home crowd were in full voice and an inevitable late push for the winner seemed on the cards, but Albion had other ideas as they regained the lead within minutes.
Ulloa’s intelligent pass found Buckley in plenty of space inside the area, and the winger made no mistake as he rifled his strike past Darlow to spark joyous scenes once more; the midfielder’s first goal since his brace at Huddersfield in November.
But just as last year in this fixture Forest grabbed a late equaliser. Lansbury’s speculative strike squirming through the hands of Ankergren to deny the Seagulls victory.