A resolute defensive display helped Nottingham Forest end a run of three straight defeats as they held promotion-chasing Watford to a 0-0 draw at the City Ground.
Chris Hughton’s side looked the more likely to break the deadlock, with Lyle Taylor flicking a header narrowly over and almost setting up Cafu for a debut goal.
Forest ensured Vladimir Ivic’s team had only rare sights of goal, as they defended solidly to claim their first clean sheet since they beat Wycombe 2-0 here at the start of the month.
It was not until the 17th minute that the game produced a meaningful effort on goal, as Harry Arter’s driven shot was sent looping just wide by Cafu, who had stretched to get his head to the ball.
After half pushing away a cross from Domingos Quina, Forest keeper Brice Samba was quick to rush out and close down Joao Pedro as the in-form Watford man looked to drive the loose ball into the back of the net.
This was a scrappy, hard fought contest, in which both sides were struggling to carve out meaningful openings.
With half an hour gone, neither keeper had been forced into a challenging save. A free-kick wide on the left gave Forest the chance to change that, but Arter’s cross-shot was driven into the side netting.
A fine ball from Anthony Knockaert sent Cafu racing into the box down the right and his cross was equally precise – but Joe Lolley’s driven effort was deflected wide.
Pedro almost gave the second half an exciting start, when he lashed a shot narrowly wide within the first minute of the restart, having found space on the edge of the box.
A poor piece of control from Christian Kabasele was pounced upon by Lolley in the Watford box but the defender recovered to block the winger’s shot. Taylor flicked a header just over the bar as Forest began to find some attacking threat.
Taylor was close to connecting with another cross, from Cyrus Christie. Taylor then almost set up Cafu with a lovely, low ball, which the midfielder was inches away from prodding home in the centre.
Forest were defending well, allowing Watford few opportunities, while prodding and probing for an opportunity of their own at the other end.
Nathaniel Chalobah was very lucky not to be red carded. He had been lucky not to be booked for a late challenge on Ryan Yates, moments before he was shown a yellow for a robust challenge on Cafu.
Forest’s players were furious when the midfielder then went unpunished after bringing down Arter with a rugged challenge.
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