SEAN O’Driscoll’s Nottingham Forest side left the south coast of England with a hard-earned 0-0 draw on Saturday after holding off a strong display from promotion rivals Brighton.
The visitors were second best during the first period as the Seagulls dominated with former Forest loanee Will Hoskins going close to breaking the deadlock on numerous occasions.
However, the Reds improved after the interval with midfielder Henri Lansbury nearly opening the scoring before Forest keeper Lee Camp was called into action to deny Hoskins a late decider.
A record crowd of 26,684 fans inside the AMEX Stadium were treated to an entertaining first half, but it was the hosts who began the brighter of the two sides.
Former Athletic Bilbao ace David Lopez fired over a dangerous corner in the opening stages and it found defender Inigo Calderon – but the Spaniard could only head his effort over the bar.
And the fullback was involved again moments later when Seagulls’ star striker Craig Mackail-Smith teed-up Calderon on the edge of the box to hit a powerful strike that thumped the foot of the post.
Hoskins could have opened the scoring against his old club soon after when Andrew Crofts picked out the frontman from the left – however, his shot crashed into the side-netting under pressure from Danny Collins.
The away side’s first real chance came as a Billy Sharp effort was charged down before falling to Andy Reid – the veteran midfielder’s effort from 18-yards flew well over Tomasz Kuszczak’s crossbar.
Seagulls’ left-winger Will Buckley was causing problems for Forest’s Dan Harding for much of the first half and the youngster did well to head a ball across goal for Hoskins - only for the striker to volley over from close range.
At the other end of the field the visitors tried to catch Brighton unaware when Reid hit a short corner towards midfielder Adlene Guedioura whose shot bobbled well wide.
Forest midfielder Guy Moussi was spared his blushes after his poorly timed interception allowed Crofts to work a ball into the centre to Hoskins only for the striker to again head over Camp’s bar.
However, despite the pressure from the home side it was the Reds that nearly took the lead on the stroke of half-time when Chris Cohen picked out Sharp with a pinpoint cross only to see the striker’s flicked-effort bounce against the bar.
The visitors began the second period with much more attacking menace and both Cohen and Dexter Blackstock put efforts just wide in the first few moments after the whistle.
Brighton’s danger-man Hoskins then had another golden opportunity to put the home side ahead when a free-kick evaded everyone before falling to the on loan Watford striker whose volley went wayward.
Just after the hour-mark Henri Lansbury came onto the field for Forest, replacing Guedioura. The former Arsenal midfielder nearly made an immediate impact when his low strike from Blackstock’s knock-down nearly caught out Kuszczak.
Greg Halford was another replacement for the away side after the interval and the defender worked a deep cross into the box for Blackstock whose downward header was only inches away from giving Forest the lead.
And with only minutes left to play Reds’ shot-stopper Camp was forced into making a reaching save to deny Buckley who had gone clear on goal after Halford slipped in defence. The keeper stretched out his hand to tip the ball to safety.
The Reds remain in 9th position in the Championship table and are just three points away from the play-off positions. Forest face another away trip next as they travel to Vicarage Road to take on Watford on Saturday 22nd December. Kick-off is at 3pm.
Brighton: Kuszczak, Greer, El-Abd, Hoskins (LuaLua, 70), Crofts, Mackail-Smith, Calderon, Lopez (Barnes, 78), Bridcutt (Hammond, 85), Bridge, Buckley.
Nottingham Forest: Camp, Hutton, Ayala, Collins, Harding (Halford, 45), Cohen, Moussi, Guedioura (Lansbury, 60), Reid (Gillett, 92), Sharp, Blackstock.
Man of the match (Forest): Lee Camp.
Referee: Graham Salisbury.
Attendance: 26,684 (1,860 away).