LATICS 0 - 0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
Latics were held to a frustrating goalless draw at the DW in a game of great endeavour but few clear-cut chances.
Manager Warren Joyce gave a full debut to Mikael Mandron alongside Omar Bogle and there were times when the side were able to dominate a stubborn Forest defence and create chances but clear-cut opportunities were difficult to come by.
At the other end the visitors did threaten on occasion and Latics had to concentrate hard not to concede but the overall feeling at the end of the game was definitely one of frustration of having created a lot of openings but not being to apply the finishing touch.
One piece of good news for Latics was the return of Alex Gilbey after five months out with an ankle injury, when he came on as a second half substitute.
Shaun MacDonald returned to the Latics line-up in place of Callum Connolly, with Mandron replacing Will Grigg. Jamie Hanson filled in at right back in place of Connolly.
Latics almost made the perfect start, a deep Stephen Warnock cross causing confusion in the Forest defence and Bogle flashed an effort from a tight angle across the face of goal. Bogle had another effort after 11 minutes, when the ball came to him on the edge of the box and he swung a shot at goal which flew a yard wide of Jordan Smith’s left post.
There were shouts for a penalty when Bogle went down in the box under a challenge from David Vaughan on 34 minutes but the referee was not interested.
Forest twice threatened before the break through their 17 year-old striker Ben Brereton, firstly when he tangled with Warnock in the box but the referee waved away the penalty appeal, then when Dan Burn had to stretch out one of his long legs to block a shot. Britt Assombalonga did have a snapshot from inside the area after 40 minutes but Matt Gilks was equal to it.
Latics started the second half full of intent, Bogle swinging and missing following a Hanson corner on 49 minutes then Burn seeing a shot blocked in a crowded area.
Latics made a double change after 58 minutes, Mandron and Power replaced by Gabriel Obertan and Gilbey.
Forest went close on 62 minutes when skipper Eric Lichaj threaded a shot through a sea of legs with the outside of his boot that curled just wide of Gilks’ right hand post. Then Mustapha Carayol tried his luck from distance, his powerful shot bouncing off Gilks’ chest.
Latics fought hard to get back into the contest but were finding chances hard to come by. After 79 minutes, a good move down the left saw Gilbey release Warnock, and Joe Worrall was at full stretch at the near post to block it out with Bogle lurking.
Will Grigg was the final change for Latics, replacing Bogle after 83 minutes as Latics looked for a winner.
Forest had a chance when Worrall met Ben Osborn’s 89th free-kick at the near post, but it was wide. Then Gilbey arrived late in the area to meet Hanson’s free-kick in injury time but couldn’t get a strong enough connection that would have sent the DW Stadium into raptures and capped a fairy-tale comeback.