McLeish happy with fighting Forest's late point

Nottingham Forest 2 Crystal Palace 2

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The Independent Football

Billy Sharp came up with a late equaliser to ensure that Alex McLeish's Nottingham Forest reign got off to a positive start, and the Scot was heartened by the way his new charges dug in.

McLeish was in the Forest dugout for the first time since getting the job as manager on Thursday, just a day after Sean O'Driscoll was sacked in the wake of a 4-2 win over Leeds.

Forest's fans have hardly been bowled over by the appointment, but McLeish was just happy to get up and running with a point.

"I thought there was a lot of fighting spirit among the players. To their credit they went all the way to the final whistle," he said.

"They could easily have put their heads down after Palace had taken the lead again but they fought right to the death, and that shows great character."

McLeish, back in work following his sacking from Aston Villa in the summer, also thanked the City Ground support for getting behind his players. "They appreciated what the players were doing, and I think the excitement the [team] created gave the fans the impetus to roar us on."

His first game could easily have been ruined by Glenn Murray, who showed the striking qualities that have now taken his tally for the season to 22. He opened the scoring in the ninth minute when he swooped on a brilliant far-post cross by Dean Moxey to bundle the ball home.

But Forest were level on the stroke of half-time when Andy Reid picked up a short pass from Chris Cohen and produced a superb left-footed finish past Julian Speroni from 25 yards.

The game could have gone either way in the second half, but Palace nosed in front for the second time when Yannick Bolasie knocked the ball goalwards and Murray produced a precision, looping header that dipped over Forest's keeper, Lee Camp.

But in the second minute of added time, Sharp rescued Forest. Reid's shot was blocked but Dexter Blackstock nodded the ball forward, and although Sharp hit the post he followed up to score.

"I thought for 75 per cent of the game we were a very good side and the lads are gutted because, like me, they feel we could have won the game," the Crystal Palace manager, Ian Holloway, said.

"Today we got ourselves into a situation to win the match and we've ended up with one point instead of three – and that's frustrating.

"I was very proud of them, their work ethic was excellent and they played some exceptional football – as did Forest – in atrocious conditions."

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Camp; Halford, Ward, Collins, Harding; Cohen (Lansbury, 78), Guedioura (Cox, 85), Majewski (McGugan, 64), Reid; Sharp, Blackstock.

Crystal Palace (4-4-1-1): Speroni; Moxey, Gabbidon, Ramage, Parr; Bolasie (Garvan, 84), Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Zaha (Easter, 71); Murray; Moritz (Williams, 72).

Referee Mark Haywood.