Nottingham Forest 2-2 Everton: Visitors pegged back twice by Johnson

Nottingham Forest 2-2 Everton: Visitors pegged back twice by the brilliant Brennan Johnson as Sean Dyche’s search for a first away win as Toffees boss goes on

  • Everton twice led but were pegged back to plunge them further into peril
  • Demarai Gray’s penalty gave visitors the lead but Nottingham Forest equalised
  • Abdoulaye Doucoure’s goal after half an hour restored Everton’s advantage 

Brennan Johnson produced a moment of class in a game badly lacking it to deny Everton a win that would have lifted them out of the bottom three.

Nottingham Forest twice trailed to Sean Dyche’s team but rescued a draw thanks to Johnson’s brilliant guided finish from 15 yards.

It was Johnson’s second equaliser, with his first-half strike cancelling out Demarai Gray’s opener from the penalty spot, though Abdoulaye Doucoure put Everton back in front before half-time. Forest are four points above the drop zone and unbeaten at home in nine games.

Everton were again without centre-forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin and this time Dyche opted to leave his understudies Neal Maupay and Ellis Simms on the bench.

So as the league’s lowest scorers and without an orthodox striker, an early Everton goal seemed unlikely – yet that is exactly what happened.

Brennan Johnson produced a moment of true quality to ensure Nottingham Forest of a point

They had twice trailed – initially through Demarai Gray’s penalty and then Abdoulaye Doucoure

Sean Dyche’s search for a first away victory as Everton boss goes on as they continue to languish at the bottom

Dyche’s men were given a helping hand by former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, whose foolish challenge on Dwight McNeil presented the visitors with a penalty. Gray converted it and the one-time Leicester player milked it by sliding on his knees in front of the Forest fans.

Forest were disjointed in the opening exchanges but it did not take them long to draw level. Morgan Gibbs-White played a one-two with Chris Wood and though Jordan Pickford saved the shot, he could only palm it into the path of Johnson, who steered in the equaliser.

Forest’s tails were up at this point and James Tarkowski did just enough to stop Wood heading in Renan Lodi’s cross. At the other end, Everton screamed in vain for a second spot-kick when Seamus Coleman tumbled under pressure from Jack Colback.

Their frustration did not last long, however. Just before the half-hour mark, Tarkowski headed Pickford’s free-kick into the danger zone, where Michael Keane outjumped Joe Worrall. Remo Freuler forgot to track the run of Doucoure, who guided his header beyond the flailing Keylor Navas. Forest were doubly angry because they had been denied a free-kick when Gibbs-White was impeded seconds earlier.

Having been under the cosh after the equaliser, Everton could have been further ahead by half-time. McNeil was allowed to glide in from the right and force Navas to tip over, and Doucoure escaped on the left and found Gray unmarked, with Gibbs-White making a vital block.

There was a physical edge to the game throughout and it nearly spilled over after the break. After a series of ferocious challenges, Gibbs-White and McNeil had to be pulled apart, with both shown the yellow card. Gray and Renan Lodi soon followed them in to the book and then it was Doucoure and Jack Colback to square up to one another. Moments later, Tarkowski was lucky to be given only a yellow for a late lunge that cleaned out Lodi.

Both sides will feel as though they had plentiful chances to win the game on a tense afternoon

Steve Cooper’s side have performed admirably post-World Cup and look likely to stay up

Everton’s midfield – including Amadou Onana – tried to frustrate the hosts for much of the afternoon

Gray’s penalty was the difference after half an hour – until Johnson popped up with a crucial goal

The Everton timewasting had long since started, and it was striking to see Gray holding the ball in the corner with a quarter of the match still left,

Chances were few and far between and when Forest did find themselves three on three, Gibbs-White mistimed his pass to Johnson and Ben Godfrey made the interception.

Johnson had been the best attacker on show and he demonstrated it again with a finish of sumptuous class to draw Forest level again with 13 minutes left. The Wales star carried the ball at the Everton back four, swapped passes with substitute Ryan Yates and guided the ball calmly into the top corner.

Forest boss Steve Cooper urged his players back to the halfway line and his side were finishing the stronger, with Andre Ayew – another sub – seeing a shot parried by Pickford that just eluded the onrushing Johnson. Then Johnson went for the hat-trick goal but was just off target on the angle.

Match facts 

Nottingham Forest: Navas; Aurier, Worrall, Felipe, Lodi; Freuler, Shelvey, Colback; Gibbs-White, Johnson; Wood

Substitutes: Mangala, N Williams, Lingard, Hennessey, Toffolo, Surridge, Yates, Dennis, A Ayew

Goals: Brennan Johnson (19′, 77′) 

Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Tarkowski, Godfrey; Iwobi, Doucoure, Gueye, Onana; Gray, McNeil

Substitutes: Holgate, Mina, Begovic, Maupay, Davies, Vinagre, Coady, Garner, Simms

Goals: Demarai Gray (10′ p), Abdoulaye Doucoure (29′)


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