For 90 minutes, the traveling fans of Nottingham Forest watched their team persevere throughout their lives, but at the end of another exhausting night for Steve Cooper’s players, it’s a point.
It wasn’t pretty, but Forest will accept this. Brighton spent this match around the opponent’s penalty area, firing a total of 19 shots into Dean Henderson’s goal. Yet they were saved time and again, sometimes beautifully, often less so.
If you can’t win, don’t lose either, and Cooper’s side refused to succumb to defeat here. The club that has made 23 summer purchases is still waiting for it all to click.
In the meantime, they will take this draw knowing it will take them off the bottom of the Premier League for now.
Brighton is tired of hearing about ‘expected targets’. They know they should score more and yet they can’t seem to escape these evenings of disappointment.
Forest’s social media team had learned its lesson. Their pre-match photo of Emmanuel Dennis having a playdate with three wolf cubs backfired spectacularly on Saturday, with Wolves winning 1-0 and tweeting ‘game time over’ in a great response.
There wasn’t this time. Not a picture of Jesse Lingard having a lovely time by the sea. No photo of Morgan Gibbs-White protecting his chips from a pair of seagulls.
Nothing that could bite Forest if this Premier League match didn’t go according to plan.
Brighton started at the top but were unable to convert their chances. A familiar feeling for this club, that.
They had scored three of their six shots in a 3-3 draw against Liverpool in Roberto De Zerbi’s first game. But since then Brighton had not scored in successive defeats to Brentford and Tottenham, despite managing 35 tries on goal.
It looked like the same old story here. All attack, no finish. Leandro Trossard came closest to opening the score, showing some nice feet to lose Serge Aurier and Morgan Gibbs-White before forcing Henderson into a one-handed save.
Trossard vs Aurier became an important battle. The Brighton left striker looked like the home side’s biggest threat and was always looking for the ball. On the other hand, Lingard did not score a single goal after fifteen minutes of football.
After 28 minutes, Joel Veltman flashed over the bar when he had the time and space to beat Henderson. After 30 minutes, Trossard picked up the ball in the back corner of the Forest box. He kicked the ball down and fired a half volley that hit the crossbar.
Forest clung to the end of the first half. Solly March cut in from the right wing, beating Neco Williams and forcing Henderson to prevent him from finding the bottom corner.
Trossard then eliminated Pascal Gross close to the penalty spot. He fired a first shot that was too close to Henderson and Forest cleared before Danny Welbeck hit the rebound.
The Zerbi turned away from the field and pulled the hood of his jacket over his head. He must have wondered how it was still 0-0. When a minute of stoppage time was announced, Alexis Mac Allister cut the ball back for Adam Webster, who sent his shot into the stands.
The halftime statistics highlighted how one-sided it had been. Brighton led 12-0 on shots, 6-0 on corners and had seen 68 percent of the ball. And yet it remained 0-0.
The loudest cheers from Forest’s fans to date had come when their striker Brennan Johnson successfully blocked a clearing from Brighton at the corner flag.
In their defense, the end had had little else to celebrate, so they had their own fun.
Forest were looking for their first away win in the Premier League since May 1999. More was needed to end that 23-year wait, although Henderson sprang into action at the start of the second half.
Gross’s waving corner was reached with a volley by Welbeck from 12 meters, but Forest’s goalkeeper pushed him away safely.
In the 51st minute a cross from Veltman was inviting for Welbeck, who headed wide. Another chance, another moan from the home fans.
There was concern for Forest captain Ryan Yates when Moises Caicedo kicked him red in the face. It hurt and there was blood, but Yates kept going.
After 57 minutes it was 15-0 for Brighton on shots and 24-0 on touches in the penalty area. Then the visitors finally had a crack. Johnson, who had shown the greatest effort of any Forest player, deserved the space to shoot. It went out for a throw-in.
It was better than nothing. As we went into the last 20 minutes, the game was much more balanced. Brighton’s attacks became less frequent and Forest felt they had done enough to add another point to their Premier League tally.
There was time for one last heroic save from Henderson in the 81st minute when Gross thought he had scooped the winner. He didn’t, thanks to Forest’s busy keeper.
Brighton (3-4-2-1): Sanchez, March, Veltman, Webster, Dunk, Lallana (Lamptey 64), Caicedo, Gross (Undav 85), MacAllister, Trossard, Welbeck
Subscribers: Steele, Sarmiento, Enciso, Gilmour, Van Hecke, Estupinan, Turns
Manager: Roberto De Zerbic
Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Henderson, Aurier (Toffolo 68, Biancone 86), Williams, Cook, Mangala (Kouyate 61), McKenna, Freuler, Gibbs-White, Yates, Lingard (Worrall 86), Johnson (Awoniyi 86).
Subscribers: Hennessey, Surridge, Dennis, Boly
Manager: Steve Cooper
Referee: Darren England