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Steve Cooper boosted as battling Forest earn a point at Wolves

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Dec 2023

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Nottingham Forest stopped the rot with a battling point at Wolves to give Steve Cooper an early birthday present in the fight for his job.

The under-fire Forest boss, who turns 44 on Sunday, saw his side scrap to a deserved 1-1 draw to end a run of four straight defeats.

Harry Toffolo headed in the opener only for Matheus Cunha to level in the first half at Molineux.

Toffolo missed a fine second-half chance to win it but Forest at least claimed a first away point in two months.

It kept them 16th, five points above the Premier League’s relegation zone, while Wolves sit 12th after stretching their unbeaten home run to six.

Wednesday’s 5-0 thumping at Fulham had pushed Cooper closer to the brink at Forest, with former Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui a contender to replace him.

Defeat at Molineux would reportedly cost him his job and Forest fans unveiled a flag of the boss in support before the game – and they had more to celebrate after 14 minutes.

Cheikhou Kouyate initially won the ball in midfield and, after swapping passes with Morgan Gibbs-White, found Neco Williams on the right.

His excellent delivery reached Toffolo at the far post and the defender’s downward header beat Jose Sa and Craig Dawson’s desperate attempt to clear on the line.

Forest had something to cling to. Cooper had made seven changes from the hammering at Craven Cottage and the much-changed visitors were prepared to dig in and frustrate Wolves.

The hosts pressed with little initial impact, bossing possession, with only Cunha’s tame effort to show for their efforts – until the forward levelled after 32 minutes.

An incisive move cut through Forest with Nelson Semedo and Mario Lemina involved before Pablo Sarabia was slipped in to cut back for Cunha, who steered in his fifth goal of the season from six yards.

Forest’s ambition had seemingly been to protect their lead but, with parity restored, they needed to some more attacking impetus – which only arrived when Wolves gifted them an opening just before the break.

Kouyate seized on Max Kilman’s dawdling and was suddenly clean through but his low shot was saved by Sa’s outstretched leg.

Before that, Wolves had continued to probe without further success and Forest emerged for the second half with the momentum which previously eluded them.

Anthony Elanga rattled the bar from close range, although the flag went up almost immediately, and Cooper’s frustrations boiled over with the boss booked after a decision went against his side.

His mood would have darkened further when Toffolo missed a golden chance to restore Forest’s lead after 69 minutes.

Williams dispossessed Matt Doherty and sent in another excellent delivery only for Toffolo to head over from three yards, to leave Cooper with his head in his hands.

It would have got worse had Matt Turner not saved Cunha’s shot after the striker bundled his way through with 15 minutes left. But, with a point in the bag, Cooper left the pitch being serenaded by the travelling supporters at the end.

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