|George Boateng (right) celebrates his last-gasp winner at the City Ground|
George Boateng was Steve McClaren's unlikely hero with an injury-time equaliser as Forest came from two goals down to rescue a point against east Midlands rivals Leicester on Saturday.
The Foxes were on top at the interval scoring twice within three first-half-minutes after mistakes from the Reds in possession - but McClaren's men fought back late in the second half with a spot-kick and last-gasp Boateng goal helping them finish the game with a share of the spoils.
The first half was one to forget for the home side and Sven-Goran Eriksson's men caught the Reds sleeping early on - forcing Lee Camp to make two saves in quick succession. The first following a corner from Neil Danns that found the head of Leicester marksman David Nugent who saw his attempt saved. Soon after Ivorian defender Sol Bamba found space on the edge of the six-yard box and the Forest keeper was forced to hit his powerful shot away for a corner.
The high-spending visitors had been threatening a goal and it came after 18 minutes when Jonathan Greening gave the ball away poorly in his own half. The nimble Gelson Fernandes latched on quickly running past Luke Chambers and squaring the ball to the waiting Nugent who was left to fire into an empty net.
The Reds failed to learn from their first mistake – giving the ball away again in midfield minutes later. Chambers could only find Danns with his wayward pass and the sharp midfielder pounced darting into the box and playing a slick one-two with Nugent – although his shot was cleared off the line by Chris Gunter it came to Fernandes who buried the ball in the bottom left-corner to make it two.
The home fans looked shell-shocked at the break and not surprisingly considering Forest’s only chance of the half came when Gunter crossed from the left for new signing Matt Derbyshire who failed to test Schmeichel and headed wide.
McClaren decided to change things when the teams emerged from the tunnel for the second-half and Ishmael Miller was brought on for the second time in as many games – replacing Derbyshire who had seen little of the ball. USA starlet Robbie Findley also came into the action replacing David McGoldrick in attack.
Miller used his height well and began causing the Leicester defence problems immediately - setting up Findley with a precise flick-on from a long goal kick - the frontman crashed a powerful shot towards goal but Schmeichel dived to his left to make the save.
Miller then went close himself seconds later, turning quickly in the six-yard-box to find a shot out of nowhere - however Schmeichel was equal to it and clung on to the ball.
Following a good period of possession the Reds began stretching the Foxes’ back four and got a goal back soon after. Gunter got away down the right and put a cross in towards Findley who was blocked out by Leicester new-boy Matt Mills. Both fell to the ground and referee Jonathan Moss awarded Forest a penalty after Mills was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
Mills was booked and Schmeichel was also given a yellow for arguing with the referee. Lewis McGugan then stepped up to finish clinically from the spot - smashing the ball out of the reach of the diving Leicester keeper. Schmeichel then received a second yellow card and was sent for an early bath in a moment of madness after throwing the ball away in anger.
McGugan could have put the game back on level terms just before stoppage time with Forest winning a free kick on the left 20-yards out - but his effort hit the wall and ran away for a corner.
Forest did get their dramatic equaliser a minute from time when Chris Cohen put the ball in from a left-wing position - his cross sailed over Leicester substitute keeper Chris Weale and was scrambled in at the back post by Boateng who ran to celebrate in front of the adoring home fans in the Trent End.
Forest now have five points from a possible 12 and their next game in the Championship is at home to West Ham. The match is on Sunday 28 August and kick-off is at 1:15pm