FOREST NOT YET OUT OF THE WOODS
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.”
LEVELLER: Aiden McGeady celebrates Preston’s equaliser STAR MAN BEN OSBORN Forest