Kyle Bartley’s unfortunate own goal meant Forest were level at the break even though they had not managed an effort on target
Matty Cash’s thunderous injury-time strike earned promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest a draw in a gripping and controversial encounter against Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion.
The Baggies looked set to move nine points clear before the afternoon kick-offs with Tobias Figueiredo’s second-half own goal putting them 2-1 ahead.
But Cash smashed the ball into the far corner from the right side of the box to take Forest up to fourth place in the table and keep the gap between them and West Brom at eight points.
Figueiredo’s was the second unfortunate own goal of the game, West Brom’s Kyle Bartley having also put through his own net from Sammy Ameobi’s cross to make it 1-1 at the break following Callum Robinson’s stylish, curled opener.
Forest were convinced Ameobi had been fouled in the build-up to Figueiredo’s goal, but referee Keith Stroud allowed play to continue and, after the Baggies broke upfield, the Portuguese defender could only divert Jake Livermore’s drilled cross past keeper Brice Samba.
Cash’s dramatic leveller in a feisty match played in testy, windswept conditions at The Hawthorns went some way to appeasing a furious Forest, who felt Livermore was lucky to escape without punishment for a high boot on Yuri Ribeiro and that they should have had a penalty for handball against Bartley soon after the hosts went ahead in contentious circumstances for the second time.
But West Brom also ended frustrated with the officials as Robinson’s 96th-minute strike went over the line before hitting Bartley, who was flagged for offside a goal which West Brom boss Slaven Bilic said “should have been given”.
The Baggies set the tone for a breathless match in a strong start, but neither side managed a shot on target until the Baggies went ahead when the impressive Matheus Pereira robbed Samba Sow of possession and slipped a pass to the right to Robinson, who shifted the ball beautifully out of his feet and bent it into the far corner.
Forest were a vastly different side to the one that surrendered so meekly to Charlton at the City Ground on Tuesday, both in personnel and performance – with the five players missing from the 1-0 home loss all returning and having central roles.
One of the quintet, 16-goal top scorer Lewis Grabban, should have put the Reds ahead before Pereira struck only to wastefully head the ball wide from Lolley’s inviting cross.
Forest responded well to falling behind and came close to equalising when a venomous Tiago Silva volley went narrowly over the bar from 18 yards. But Bartley’s unfortunate own goal, as he attempted to prevent Ameobi’s luscious cross reaching Grabban, did make it 1-1.
The Baggies, who have now just won once in six home matches, recovered to take control after the interval and Ameobi had to block Pereira’s sweet goalbound volley, while Samba made fine saves to deny Filip Krovinovic and Livermore.
Home pressure told when Baggies captain Livermore crossed and Figueiredo’s attempt to block saw him divert the ball into his own net from close range with Hal Robson-Kanu lurking for a tap-in.
Cash’s sumptuous 91st-minute strike – Forest’s only effort on target – denied the Baggies victory and their lead at the top was cut to four points by the end of Saturday’s fixtures courtesy of Leeds winning.
Matty Cash’s goal was his third in 35 appearances this season and his second against West Brom
West Brom head coach Slaven Bilic:
“I told the guys I’m going to be disappointed and they’re frustrated, but if we continue like this, with the same patterns, focus, energy and quality, then we really have a good chance to do what we want to do [win promotion].
“This was our best performance, whatever the result – we were always the ones who were better, in ball possession, in number of great situations, creating chances, everything was there.
“The only thing that was missing was to kill the game at 2-1. But some of our finishing was not good enough, and the goalkeeper made a few good saves.”
Nottingham Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi:
“Some people and refs can make mistakes. I made mistakes on Tuesday maybe and will before the end of the season and we must help them of course. But decisions can change the game.
“I have a lot to complain about. But I am the manager of Forest and must be positive with people, it’s part of the game.”
- Match Stats
- Live Text
- 7KrovinovicSubstituted forHarperat 90+2'minutes
- 12Costa PereiraSubstituted forPhillipsat 72'minutesBooked at 75mins
- 4Robson-KanuSubstituted forGrosickiat 84'minutes
- 30SambaBooked at 71mins
- 11CashBooked at 27mins
- 21SowBooked at 40minsSubstituted forDiakhabyat 70'minutes
- 19AmeobiSubstituted forSemedoat 70'minutes
- 28SilvaSubstituted forWalkerat 80'minutes
Home TeamWest BromAway TeamNottm ForestPossessionHome61%Away39%ShotsHome18Away8Shots on TargetHome9Away1CornersHome8AwayFoulsHome8Away11
Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 2, Nottingham Forest 2.