They patrolled their respective technical areas with an air of menace and both Stuart Pearce and Sami Hyypia will have been full admiration of their teams’ defensive qualities during a lifeless stalemate at the City Ground.
But what both Forest and Brighton needed most was the drive, energy and will-to-win that their managers displayed during their distinctive playing careers and those ingredients were lacking from the two teams.
You could well imagine either of them taking hold of the game when they were at their marauding international best. Although Forest remain unbeaten, they were toppled as the Championship leaders and this was the second successive goalless draw in the League.
They have relied heavily so far on the goals of their club record £5 million striker Britt Assombalonga, the division’s top scorer with eight from eight games before yesterday, but against a resilient Brighton side he fired blanks.
The service to him was hardly creative, however, and he toiled in vain to carve out openings for himself.
Visiting keeper David Stockdale was just as inactive as Karl Darlow in the Forest goal. The Brighton goalie was only stretched once during the whole game – a 31st minute deflected shot from Robert Tesche which dipped awkwardly before the keeper pushed it around the post.
The only other time the Fulham goal was threatened was after Pearce threw on 6ft 5ins striker Lars Veldwijk and went for a route one approach. The giant Dutchman almost scored with his first touch but he fractionally failed to get a touch from Danny Fox’s 78th-minute free-kick.
Forest had one last chance to win it in stoppage time. Ben Osborn’s corner from the right found Michael Mancienne unmarked behind the far post but he steered his feeble header off target when a winner looked certain.
Pearce threw his arms in the air and raised his eyes to the heavens at that miss. It was tempting to believe that even at the age of 52 he would have buried the chance.
Brighton’s approach play was attractive enough but like Forest there was no end product to the phases of the game when they held a territorial advantage and Darlow did not have a single save to make in the home goal.
Hyppia will be content with his team’s display, though will have felt that this was a day when Brighton might have gone away with more than a single point. Perhaps with a more adventurous attitude and some support for lone striker Craig Mackail-Smith, their rewards would have been greater.
Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Darlow; Hunt, Mancienne, Wilson, Fox; Lansbury (Veldwijk, 77), Osborn, Tesche (Paterson, 61); Burke, Assombalonga, Antonio (Grant, 88).
Brighton (4-5-1): Stockdale; Saltor, Greer, Dunk, Bennett; Holla (Ince, 64), Crofts, Forster-Caskey (Gardner, 88), Colunga (McCourt, 87), Lualua; Mackail-Smith.
Referee: Robert Madley.
Man of the match: Wilson (Nottingham Forest)
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content