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Brice Samba on the spot to earn point for Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest v Luton Town – Sky Bet Championship – City Ground
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

Brice Samba saved an Elijah Adebayo penalty to earn 10-man Nottingham Forest a 0-0 home draw with Luton.

The hosts conceded the spot-kick when Jack Colback hauled down Tom Lockyer in the box, leading to his second caution of the game and first red card since May 2010.

But, despite still having half an hour to muster a winning goal following Adebayo’s miss, the Hatters failed to press home their numerical advantage and have now gone three consecutive games without netting – their worst sequence since January 2016.

Earlier, the hosts had started the game with purpose as nimble footwork by Philip Zinckernagel created space for an effort that was deflected wide.

Forest’s Paraguayan debutant Braian Ojeda also lifted a shot over from a similar distance after probing play by Joe Lolley.

For Luton, James Bree drove across the face of goal from 25 yards before a long-range James Garner attempt was deflected over the visitors’ goal and his subsequent corner also saw Scott McKenna clear the crossbar with his header.

Away boss Nathan Jones was without regular keeper Simon Sluga, who had been identified as a close contact of somebody who tested positive for Covid-19 while he was on international duty with Croatia, meaning James Shea was called up for his first league outing in goal since last Boxing Day.

And the former Wimbledon man was called into the first save of the night on 24 minutes when he punched away an inswinging Lolley free-kick.

Luton’s best chance of the half saw Adebayo head over from a right-wing cross by Allan Campbell, who went on to scuff wide from 15 yards just past the half-hour mark.

After the break, a casual pass by Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu played Lockyer into trouble and Lolley slid Lyle Taylor in on goal, but his shot was smartly kept out at the near post by Shea.

A 20-yard Zinckernagel effort then narrowly dipped over before Colback got in his costly tangle with Lockyer on the hour – but Adebayo squandered a chance to claim his ninth goal of the season when his penalty struck the trailing leg of Samba, who had dived to his right.

After Kai Naismith blazed well over from distance for Luton, Forest fans were then screaming for a spot-kick of their own but Mpanzu was adjudged to have tripped Zinckernagel just outside the box.

Lockyer headed well over from a corner moments later but substitute Jordan Clark went closer when he flashed a 20-yard strike wide with his first touch of the night.

Only another heroic Samba stop then denied Luton a stoppage-time winner as he displayed excellent reflexes to repel Naismith’s firm 10-yard drive.

It meant Steve Cooper has now lost just one of his 12 contests in charge after taking over a team that had lost eight of their previous 10 fixtures.