Nottingham Forest halted their run of five consecutive defeats in all competitions by gaining a credible point in a 0-0 draw away at Birmingham City in the Championship.
This result also sees new Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola still looking for his first victory since replacing Gary Rowett in December, to the displeasure of many Blues fans.
A much improved performance
Following a dismal performance in the 2-0 defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup last time out, Philippe Montanier made several changes to his team.
These changes included dropping the likes of Nicolau Dumitru and Nicklas Bendtner and bringing Lica and Matt Mills into the starting line-up for this crucial match.
Forest made a bright start to the game as they looked to give their fans something to shout about the day after the proposed takeover by a US consortium had officially been called off.
Star-striker Britt Assombalonga felt he could have been awarded a penalty after a collision with Ryan Shotton but the referee felt otherwise. Matt Mills had a superb chance to give Forest the lead but failed to convert a Matty Cash corner despite being totally unmarked.
The home side gradually got themselves into the match and had a chance to take the lead themselves. Che Adams managed to create space for himself in the box but struck his shot wide of the target.
Cash had thought he had given Forest the lead as he volleyed past Kuszczak but the linesman had flagged for offside before he had made contact.
Forest continued to push for the opening goal before the break against a nervy looking Birmingham defence. Cash had another chance to open the scoring but could not divert Ben Osborn's cross on target. The home side looked suspect from set pieces throughout the first-half. Michael Mancienne had a free header from a corner similarly to Mills earlier in the game but again headed over when he should have done better.
Forest went into half-time the much happier of the two teams after just about edging the first-half. Birmingham were very frustrated and this was shown by the home crowd who booed their team off down the tunnel.
Blues left frustrated
The second-half started at a fast tempo with chances for both teams. Jutkiewicz saw his header saved well by Forest keeper Stephen Henderson. Forest soon had a chance down the other end, again with Matty Cash who saw his shot fly wide of the target.
Despite a much-improved performance from Forest, Birmingham still looked a threat on the counter attack especially. Mills put in a superb block as the home side looked to capitalise on a poor Forest defence which had previously kept one clean sheet all season.
It was a second-half of few clear cut chances on an afternoon where Forest frustrated the home side. Jack Hobbs and Matt Mills were solid at the back and Birmingham found it very difficult to get in behind and create any opportunities.
This resulted in the away side seeing the game out in what was a credible point considering the current situation at the club. Blues fans were left frustrated as Gianfranco Zola is left still looking for his first win at the club.
Turbulent time at The City Ground
It has been a unsettling couple of months at the club as fans and everyone connected with Forest awaited positive news regarding the takeover. However, now this has officially fallen through, dark times appear to be ahead on Trentside.
This means that Fawaz Al-Hasawi remains as owner of the club for the foreseeable future in what is a vital period in the club's recent history. Relegation to League 1 and the financial implications which would come from this are unthinkable for the club and must be avoided.
Following the match, manager Philippe Montanier was dismissed from his role at the club. This was expected news due to the fact that Al-Hasawi had informed one of his representatives that he would have been sacked months ago had he had full control.
It is vital that Al-Hasawi makes a quick appointment but it must also be a quality appointment. With the transfer window gradually running out every day, the new manager will need time to bring their own players in as Forest look to avoid the drop.
As for Birmingham, any dreams of finishing in the play-off places seem to be slowly slipping away as they now find themselves nine points off. It is vital Zola finds his first win at the club soon otherwise the pressure will start to increase even at this early stage.