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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Chris Wood earns Nottingham Forest precious point against Crystal Palace

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Football

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Chris Wood scored his seventh goal in eight league games as Nottingham Forest moved back out of the relegation zone with a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace.

In their first match since being docked four points by the Premier League for breaching profit and sustainability rules, Forest needed a 61st-minute equaliser from their in-form forward to cancel out Jean-Philippe Mateta’s early strike for the visitors.

Having been plunged into the bottom three following the points deduction, Forest climbed to 17th place on goal difference after Luton fell to defeat at Tottenham.

Forest have this week launched an appeal against their punishment but there was little by way of a rousing response from the players until the second half and they still have only one win from their last 10 league matches.

Before kick-off fans in the Trent End unveiled a large banner which read ‘We shall fight and we shall overcome’ but the spirit in the stands was not matched by the performance on the pitch in the opening 45 minutes and Palace scored with their first real attack just 11 minutes in.

Jefferson Lerma intercepted a loose ball and then played a slide-rule pass to Eberechi Eze, who laid the ball off for Mateta to power in his third goal in his last four appearances, leaving Matz Sels with no chance as he found the top corner.

Three minutes later the lively Eze tried his luck with a free-kick from deep on the left, with Sels taking no chances as he tipped it over at the far post.

Forest had plenty of the ball but no final delivery as Palace, seeking a win which would edge them towards safety, were happy to drop deep, getting all 11 players behind the ball.

There was no service for the returning Wood as Forest failed to test their former goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who replaced the injured Sam Johnstone for Palace.

Seven minutes before half-time Oliver Glasner’s side should have doubled their lead when Adam Wharton’s threaded pass from deep sent Eze through on goal but Sels was out quickly to smother the shot.

Nuno Espirito Santo sent on Anthony Elanga for Ibrahim Sangare at the break but again it was Palace who were quick to threaten, with Eze bending an effort wide after being played in by Wharton following a short corner.

When Callum Hudson-Odoi cut in from the left in the 52nd minute his shot was easy enough for Henderson to punch clear but Forest were starting to find some encouragement and drew level just after the hour.

Morgan Gibbs-White floated a ball in from the left and Wood, with his back to goal, did well to twist and flick a header over Henderson and into the far corner of the net.

Having sat deep for so long Palace tried to up the intensity and Wharton shot wastefully over before Eze brought a good save out of Sels after beating several defenders in a run across the box.

The game went from end to end and in the 74th minute Hudson-Odoi picked out substitute Gio Reyna, who made space for himself before hitting a powerful shot that Henderson parried and Gibbs-White then sent a shot over the bar.

Palace were inches away from a late winner when Neco Williams turned Eze’s corner against his own post in the 87th minute but a draw felt like a fair result in the end.

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