FOR­EST NOT YET OUT OF THE WOODS

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John McDougall

MARK WAR­BUR­TON called on his Not­ting­ham For­est side to push on in their march away from the rel­e­ga­tion zone af­ter their draw with Pre­ston.

Reds top scorer Britt As­som­ba­longa’s cool fin­ish handed For­est the ad­van­tage but Ai­den McGeady res­cued a point for the Li­ly­whites af­ter the break at Deep­dale.

And Reds boss War­bur­ton, whose side moved two points clear of the drop, is in no doubt of the qual­ity his For­est squad pos­sesses.

“We’ve just got to push on,” he said. “With­out be­ing rude to any­one, it’s about For­est, that’s all we can do. We can’t con­trol any­thing away from us.

“It says some­thing for the qual­ity of the squad that they’re dis­ap­pointed to be go­ing away feel­ing we’ve dropped two points as op­posed to made a point.

“There’s be­lief with the squad. There’s no doubt about the qual­ity within the ranks, there’s no doubt about their work ethic and their de­sire.

“As the game wore on, we looked fit, we looked strong, and cre­ated chances of our own.”

Ever­ton loa­nee McGeady drove at the Reds rear­guard within the first minute to tee up Paul Gal­lagher, whose long-range ef­fort was de­flected over.

McGeady clev­erly slot­ted in Paul Hunt­ing­ton who turned in the box and forced Jor­dan Smith into a low fifth minute save.

Tom Barkhuizen raced clear of Danny Fox to go one-on-one with Smith but the stop­per dealt with the for­ward’s low shot, while Jor­dan Hugill’s curl­ing ef­fort shortly af­ter went ag­o­niz­ingly over the bar as North End started the match brightly.

But the vis­i­tors took a 22nd­minute lead when Zach Clough played in As­som­ba­longa who fired con­vinc­ingly past Maxwell for his tenth strike of the cam­paign.

At the other end af­ter the halfhour, Eric Lichaj spared Smith’s blushes af­ter drop­ping Hugill’s cross and the Amer­i­can cleared with Daryl Hor­gan lurk­ing. Ben Br­ere­ton drove through the Pre­ston mid­field and de­fence eas­ily and only Maxwell’s legs de­nied him ex­tend­ing For­est’s lead two min­utes be­fore the break.

Barkhuizen tried his luck four min­utes af­ter the restart with a thun­der­ing long-range ef­fort which sailed just over Smith’s goal.

But McGeady handed the Li­ly­whites a life­line three min­utes later with a low drive into the bot­tom cor­ner past Smith for his sixth strike in Pre­ston colours.

For­est’s Ben Os­born was inches away from restor­ing his side’s lead as his curl­ing ef­fort af­ter the hour sailed just wide.

Pre­ston sub­sti­tute Callum Robin­son coun­ter­at­tacked on 70 min­utes down the left and darted into the box only to find Smith equal to his ef­fort as the spoils were shared.

And Pre­ston boss Si­mon Grayson be­lieves the point may be vi­tal for the play-off hope­fuls.

“We’re dis­ap­pointed that we’ve not won the game be­cause ob­vi­ously that’s what we set out to do, but who knows, it could be still a vi­tal point come the end of the sea­son,” he said.

“We started the game brightly but then you’ve got to give them credit for what a good team they are. They caused us a lot of prob­lems and got the goal they de­served. We changed the sys­tem and per­son­nel at half-time and we were cer­tainly the bet­ter team in the sec­ond half.”

PIC­TURE: Dan West­well

LEVELLER: Ai­den McGeady cel­e­brates Pre­ston’s equaliser STAR MAN BEN OS­BORN For­est

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