A GOALLESS draw against ten-man Nottingham Forest was not quite the result that Albion had been hoping for as they struggled to break down a stubborn Reds defence for over an hour at the Pirelli Stadium.
Forest were reduced to ten men when Eric Lichaj was sent off for a poor challenge on Martin Samuelsen just before the half hour mark and it was the Norwegian international who arguably had Albion's best chances to win the game forcing a couple of excellent saves from Forest keeper Costel Pantilimon.
After the hugely encouraging performance at Portman Road a week ago and with no new injury problems to worry them the decision to stick with an unchanged side for the visit of Forest was a relatively straightforward one. Luke Murphy was sufficiently recovered from his badly gashed shin to return on the bench in place of Marvin Sordell but other than that manager Nigel Clough kept faith with his recent line-up and formation. Forest, meanwhile, who had a busy transfer window and a recent downturn in form made no fewer than six changes as they sought to end their current losing run.
It was the visitors who started the more purposefully and it was former Huddersfield man Joe Lolley with the first test for either keeper on six minutes. Lichaj and Matty Cash combined well down the Forest left and it was Cash who fizzed a low cross to the edge of the box for the onrushing Lolley to find ashot that was straight at Bywater on his line.
Lucas Akins found himself in referee Andy Davies' book after just 12 minutes after a scrappy spell of play. The referee was quite lenient with a couple of challenges from the men in red but when Akins pulled Lichaj back as he tried to burst out away from the corner of the pitch a free kick was awarded and Akins was on a yellow card.
Albion's first real chance of any note came on the quarter of an hour mark. A long throw from Akins was helped on into the middle and Hope Akpan showed good spring to get up highest and head towards the goal but too close to giant keeper Pantilimon.
Tempers and tensions were flaring as several challenges went unpunished. Ben Brereton escaped with a talking to after a challenge on Tom Naylor on halfway and the visitors found themselves down to ten men on 28 minutes when Lichaj was given his marching orders after a horrible scything challenge on Samuelsen near the touchline. The American stayed down in the hope of escaping any retribution from the match official but after consulting with his assistant who was right there on the spot referee Davies brandished the red card.
Brereton, having been let off his previous indiscretion was not so lucky when he jumped into McFadzean for a high ball and ended up on a yellow card.
Forest took the opportunity to reorganise with Lolley the man sacrificed to allow Ben Osborn to come on and fill the hole left by Lichaj's dismissal at left back.
Albion were starting to exert their authority of the extra man and Samuelsen almost had the opening goal on 36 minutes, Davenport's corner onto the head of the Norwegian but flashing wide of the upright as the West Ham man headed it back towards where it had come from.
Another good chance came Albion's way on 42 minutes and it was Samuelsen again with it, firing a first time shot straight at Pantilimon after an intelligent header down from Bent set him up with the chance to shoot.
Samuelsen turned provider moments later as the Forest defence backed off and allowed him to cross to the back post. Akpan got caught in two minds and ended up heading wide of the target whilst in plenty of space on the left hand side.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Nottingham Forest
Albion just needed to find a little more tempo and quality in the second half and they almost had the boost of an early goal after the break as both Akpan and Bent went close. Akpan showed good skill to chest the ball down on the edge of the box before firing a rising drive just over and Bent was unlucky to see a glancing header fly just over the bar from a teasing right wing cross moments later.
Forest briefly threatened as Brereton tried to capitalise on some loose defending on the edge of the Burton box. The young striker bustled his way into the box and went down looking for a penalty but referee Davies was not impressed.
Albion's hopes suffered a blow just before the hour mark when they lost Brayford to injury. The skipper took to his knee suffering what appeared to be a calf problem and was eventually replaced by Joe Sbarra, Lloyd Dyer dropping into the full back role as cover.
As Forest enjoyed another brief spell of pressure Karanka sent on big Irish striker Daryl Murphy in place of Brereton to try and provide more of an aerial threat to the Burton back line.
With a little over twenty minutes to go it was time for the introduction of Liam Boyce for his home debut. Instead of coming on for Bent he went up top to join him as Jamie Allen was the man to make way as Clough opted to try and push on with the man advantage.
Samuelsen had Pantilimon at full stretchlow to his left to push away a raking drive and the visitors had Danny Fox to thank for a crucial block on a fizzing Bent shot that looked destined for the net, Sbarra providing the excellent cross to set him up for the chance.
Albion continued to probe as Forest retreated deeper and deeper but struggled to carve open any clear opportunities.
Sbarra also had Pantilimon at full stretch with a teasing ball into the box and forced the big Romanian keeper to push the ball away with Bent steaming in at the back post looking to finish it off.
Forest rallied at the half wore on and after Tomlin had burst forwards to be thwarted by Akpan the ball eventually broke to full back Tendayi Darikwa who lashed a meaty volley not far past the far post.
It would have been hard on Albion had that gone in and at the end a point seemed scant reward for a game that Albion dominated but without being able to find that one moment of real quality to snatch the much needed victory.