NOTTINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Nottingham Forest held visitors Aston Villa to a 1-1 draw in the Premier League on Monday, halting a run of five consecutive defeats and moving off the bottom of the table.
The draw took Forest into 19th place on five points from nine games, climbing above East Midlands neighbours Leicester City. Villa stayed 16th but moved to nine points.
Forest went ahead in the 15th minute when striker Emmanuel Dennis took advantage of slack marking from the Villa defence to head in a free kick from Morgan Gibbs-White.
Villa responded in the 22nd with a superb Ashley Young strike from outside the area and thought they had taken the lead later in the first half when Ollie Watkins put the ball in the net only to be flagged offside.
Forest manager Steve Cooper, who last season led the club to promotion back to the top flight for the first time in 23 years, was handed a new three-year contract on Friday despite the team’s dismal run of form.
Forest made 22 signings in the close season but Cooper is still struggling to settle on a starting lineup and he made five changes from the side thrashed 4-0 at Leicester last week.
His team managed to control the game and keep their opponents in check and after a frantic start the two sides mostly cancelled each other out in a drab second period.
Villa appealed for a penalty when Ryan Yates caught Ezri Konsa’s foot when going for the ball in a similar incident to the one which led to Arsenal being awarded a spot-kick against Liverpool on Sunday.
Yates admitted he was fortunate to get away with it when asked if he had feared the worst after making the tackle.
“Probably one went for us today,” he told Sky Sports.
The midfielder added that he was relieved Forest had earned their first point in six matches.
“It’s a good point, obviously we want to be winning games but we had to stop the rot,” he said.
“We wanted to do it for the fans, ourselves and for everyone connected with the club. We worked so hard to get into the Premier League. It’s a point but we want more, especially at home.”
Villa coach Steven Gerrard said he had not seen the penalty incident properly but thought a draw was a fair result for his side, who are still waiting for their first away win this season.
“I don’t think we created enough chances to win but it was certainly a game we came here expecting to win,” he said.
“There wasn’t too much wrong with the performance but I think I’ve been saying that too much lately.”
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)