Report: Bolton 2-2 Nottingham Forest
Joe Mason marked his third Bolton Wanderers debut with a goal as Dougie Freedman’s side fought out an entertaining 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest.
The Cardiff City loanee headed the Whites into an early lead only for Forest’s record signing Britt Assombalonga to quickly net an equaliser.
David Wheater put Bolton back ahead but an Assombalonga penalty again levelled the scores before the interval.
Substitute Jermaine Beckford almost clinched all three points for the Trotters late on as he rounded Karl Darlow before rolling the ball into the empty net, only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.
Joe Mason made his third Wanderers debut after re-joining the club on loan from Cardiff City earlier in the week as manager Dougie Freedman made eight changes to the side that beat Bury in midweek.
Adam Bogdan retained his place in goal but relinquished the armband to regular skipper Jay Spearing, while Neil Danns and Craig Davies both came into the starting line-up following their goalscoring cameos in the Capital One Cup.
Despite early opportunities for visitors being squandered by Britt Asombalonga and Matty Fryatt, it was Wanderers who took the lead with their first shot on target, as debutant Joe Mason took just four minutes to mark his return to Macron Stadium with a goal.
The Cardiff City loanee leapt highest when left unmarked in the box to head Jay Spearing’s in-swinging free-kick beyond the grasp of Karl Darlow from close-range.
Adam Bogdan had to be at his best to deny Forest an equaliser with a great double save soon after. First keeping out Andy Reid’s powerful header at the near post, the Hungarian was then alert enough to pounce on the rebound from Fryatt when already on the floor.
However, there was nothing Bogdan could do about Forest’s equaliser shortly before the half-hour mark as Michail Antonio’s header at the far post fell kindly to Britt Assombalonga, allowing the £5.5m man to hammer the ball home from close-range.
Rather than be dismayed by Forest’s leveller however, the Whites’ responded almost immediately, re-taking the lead with their very next attack.
Staying forward following a set-piece, David Wheater popped up at the far post to poke the ball home for Bolton’s second of the day.
Forest were level again inside ten minutes after captain Jay Spearing caught Assombalonga in the penalty area. The forward picked himself up to take the spot-kick, with his drilled effort squirming through Bogdan’s legs into the back of the net.
Fryatt almost put Forest ahead moments later, as his seemingly harmless long-range strike was deflected towards goal. However, Bogdan adjusted his footing well to get down and keep the ball out, to ensure the sides went in at the break on level terms.
With both sides unable to match the pace of the first half, Forest started the second half the more confident.
Looking the more threatening as the Trotters sat back, Forest were unfortunate not to take the lead for the first time early in the second half as Assombalonga came within inches of claiming his hattrick, his near post header drifting just wide.
The visitors came close again moments later as captain Chris Cohen unleashed a powerful strike at goal from range, only to see his effort deflected off-target.
Dougie Freedman introduced Darren Pratley and Liam Trotter in place of Medo and Neil Danns, with the duo’s energy-levels having an immediate impact as Wanderers started pressing higher up the pitch.
Craig Davies missed a glorious chance to put the Whites ahead late on, only to see his diving header from Kevin McNaughton’s cross clear the crossbar.
Jermaine Beckford replaced Davies in the dying minutes as Bolton chased a late winner, with the forward almost delivering just that as he had the ball in the net with his very first touch, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.
But that was to be the Trotters’ last opportunity of the afternoon as they claimed a hard-fought point against Stuart Pearce’s ambitious side.