Nottingham Forest's grim recent history now stands at 17 Nationwide League games without a win after they missed a chance to scramble out of the bottom three, Joe Kinnear's side failing to break down a stubborn Gillingham defence at the City Ground last night.
The twice former European champions, who last played in what is now the Second Division half a century ago, have made some progress by drawing three matches since Kinnear replaced Paul Hart as manager, but a win last night would have lifted them to 21st place, pushing their arch-rivals Derby into the relegation zone on goal difference.
Last night's match against their fellow First Division strugglers marked the start of a critical 10 days for Forest involving matches against Bradford and Wimbledon - both below them in the bottom three - followed by a return trip to Gillingham.
Given the number of chances created against a Gillingham side stripped of seven senior players by injury, Kinnear had to see this stalemate as two points lost. If the player-manager Andy Hessenthaler's 64th-minute snapshot had gone an inch to the right rather than thump against a post, the Kent side might have compounded Forest's woes.
Kinnear went to dinner with his chairman straight after the match. Presumably a request for loan signings was on the menu. The assistant manager, Ian Bowyer, said the performance would have been seen as unlucky three months ago, when they last won a League match - against Saturday's opponents, Bradford. "But now the only important thing is the result," he said.
Forest peaked at the start of the second half, under orders from Kinnear to get the ball forward quickly. Eoin Jess was introduced in an advanced midfield role and Marlon King was eager to score against his former club.
But there were moments of panic in their own penalty area and then the goalkeeper, Darren Ward, suffered a back spasm, although his deputy, Barry Roche, did not put a foot wrong.
Michael Chopra's first contribution as a substitute nearly brought a goal, his shot squirming from Bertrand Bossu's grasp before being cleared to safety, but even the addition of four minutes' stoppage time could not produce a decisive moment.
Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Ward (Roche, 66); Gunnarsson (Jess, h-t), Dawson, Walker, Rogers; Impey, Thompson, Sonner, Reid; Taylor (Chopra, 80), King. Substitutes not used: Doig, Robertson.
Gillingham (4-3-1-2): Bossu; James, Ashby, Johnson, Hills (Rose, 73); Hessenthaler, Southall, Smith; Wallace (Pouton, 57); Sidibe, Agyemang. Substitutes not used: Crofts, Spiller, Beckwith.
Referee: L Cable (Woking).Reuse content