Honours even in a thoroughly entertaining game at the Reebok Stadium
Bolton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest played out a real humdinger in front of the Sky television cameras on a damp Friday evening at the Reebok Stadium.
In a game in which both sides held the lead, Lewis McGugan’s howitzer opened the scoring before Chris Eagles' second goal in as many games levelled proceedings just before the interval.
And after racing out of the traps in the second period and taking the lead through Marvin Sordell’s first competitive Bolton goal, Wanderers were pegged back when Andy Reid stroked home an equaliser.
Ultimately, both sides went home with a share of the spoils and will no doubt have felt that they could have easily have taken all three.
Owen Coyle kept faith with the starting line-up that only four days earlier had edged past Derby County, with Matt Mills and goalscorer Eagles retaining their starting berths.
After a somewhat eventless open 14 minutes in which both sides had probed, the game exploded into life as the visitors took the lead in spectacular fashion.
McGugan engineered half-a-yard of space before unleashing a blockbuster of an effort from all of 35 yards that crashed in off Adam Bogdan’s crossbar.
That suddenly sparked the game into life and Bolton began to foray more regularly into the Forest half.
Wanderers’ joy came down the left flank, with Sam Ricketts and Chris Eagles proving a handful for a seemingly exposed Greg Halford.
Sordell narrowly failed to connect with Ricketts’ cross, before from the same flank Kevin Davies powered a back post header marginally wide from an Eagles centre.
Bolton continued to grow into the game, though the Sean O’Driscoll’s side still posed a threat on the break, with Bogdan saving well from Adlene Guedioura’s low drive from distance.
Though Bolton's persistence down the left avenue eventually bore fruit in the 39th minute.
Chung-Yong Lee had a big hand in the equalising goal despite not actually touching the ball in the build-up.
The Korean arced a wonderful run around the outside of Ricketts, in doing so taking two Forest defenders with him. With time and space, Ricketts expertly picked out Kevin Davies, his header came back off the post and into the path of Eagles who duly slammed home the rebounds.
Sordell was then denied by a fine fingertip save from Lee Camp, with Ricketts once again the provider.
Any fears of Wanderers losing momentum during the interval were immediately quashed, as Bolton raced into the lead on 49 minutes.
Kevin Davies forced Halford into an error in the left channel, before pulling the ball back into the path of the waiting Sordell. The former Watford man adjusted his body superbly to stab an effort into Camp’s far corner.
Wanderers were seemingly in complete control, but eight minutes later and against the run of play Forest levelled.
Simon Cox plucked a long ball out of the night sky, before rolling a pass into the onrushing path of Reid. The stocky central midfielder didn’t need to break strike before eloquently stroking the ball into Bogdan’s top corner.
Wanderers weren’t deterred and continued to pour forward as the game entered its final furlong.
Mark Davies headed narrowly wide from an Eagles cross and despite the introduction of Benik Afobe, the Forest rearguard stood strong.
In fact it was the visitors who arguably ended the game the stronger of the two sides. Reid rasped a late effort onto the roof of Bogdan’s net, though ultimately the draw was probably a fair result.
Wanderers: Bogdan, Mears, Mills, Knight, Ricketts, Chung-Yong, Andrews, M Davies, Eagles, K Davies, Sordell (Afobe 68) (Unused substitutes: Lonergan, Alonso, Ream, Petrov, Wylde, Vela)
Nottingham Forest: Camp, Harding, Gillett, Collins, Guedioura (Hutchinson 81), McGugan (Greening 90), Reid, Halford, Moloney, Cox, Blackstock (Unused substitutes: Evtimov, Lascelles, McGoldrick, Derbyshire, Majewski)