Sheffield United 0-0 Nottingham Forest: Bore draw at Bramall Lane
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 17/03/18 6:28pm
Sheffield United failed to close the gap on the place-off places as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Nottingham Forest in snowy conditions at Bramall Lane.
The Blades arrived in good form, having lost only once in their last five at home, including Tuesday's 2-0 win against Burton Albion, but they failed to take their chances and increase the pressure on Middlesborough and Derby.
The goalkeepers were the stars of the show, both making fine saves to deny the opposition, but ultimately both teams will be disappointed to not have taken their chances, especially Forest, who have now failed to score in four of their last five games on the road.
United's top scorer Leon Clarke had the first chance of the game.
After a short corner routine opened up space inside the area, the striker headed a cross straight at Costel Pantilimon.
Forest, for whom scoring is becoming a growing problem under new boss Aitor Karanka, were unlucky when Matty Cash's early cross was pulled back for Kieran Dowell. The on-loan Everton midfielder's shot could not get through a crowded box though.
Clarke had the chance to mark his comeback from injury in perfect style in the 13th minute when Enda Stevens sent in a delightful cross, but he inexplicably missed the target with his header from inside the six-yard box.
The home side then created a number of chances, with Lee Evans firing over and John Fleck being denied by Pantilimon.
But Cash should have sent Forest into half-time ahead when he stole from the ball from Stevens and drove into the box, but Jamal Blackman was quick to react and got down to push the winger's shot away.
The keepers continued to impress, Pantilimon showing his bravery by pushing George Baldock's low cross from the byline.
At the other end Blackman kept out Dowell's low shot from inside the box before stretching to reach Daryl Murphy's front-post flick.
After referee Paul Tierney took an unusual break for snow to be cleared, Blackman came to United's rescue again, this time using his legs to keep out Ben Brereton before substitute Joe Lolley hit the rebound wide.
The Blades had been lacklustre in front of goal throughout the game and Clarke could not change their fortunes.
Fleck broke on the counter, travelled to the edge of the box with the ball and passed to Clarke, but his first-time shot was tame and rolled into Pantilimon's hands.
Fleck almost won it in added time, driving a shot from distance, but again Pantilimon stood strong to keep the home side at bay.
Chris Wilder: "We didn't deserve to win it. We didn't show enough quality in the final third and when we did, we've missed chances. First goal is massive, especially with our record when we've gone in front here, which is pretty good. I think we've won all our home games when we've scored first so, yeah, it was a bit frustrating.
"Towards the end we're chasing the game because we're not sat in mid-table, we're not just seeing a season out, we've got something to play for."
Aitor Karanka: "I think the last few weeks now, we look like a proper team. We are really consistent, we are a team on the pitch and now that's another step, but we had a lot of chances to score today, especially in the second half.
"We score those chances and we will win a lot of games. We need to keep going, keep improving. We need to play attacking with the same aggression as when we are defending, because with these players we will win more games. I think we deserved three points. The best example is that man of the match was the keeper (Blackman)."