West Brom 2-2 Nottingham Forest: Cash strikes at the death to silence The Hawthorns
WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Matty Cash of Nottingham Forest celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Nottingham Forest at The Hawthorns on February 15, 2020 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

In a low-quality game marred by officiating controversy, it was a moment of magic from Matty Cash that sealed a crucial point for Nottingham Forest away at league-leaders West Bromwich Albion this afternoon.

West Brom had the chance to move nine points clear, and for large parts it had seemed as though Slaven Bilic's men would do just that after Tobias Figuerido's 65th-minute own goal restored the Albion lead in what was a feisty, error-stricken contest at The Hawthorns.

That was until Cash, who looked as though he might have to come off at one point, shimmied past Livermore and rifled into the top corner to send the travelling contingent into raptures. 

Story of the game

With West Brom able to move nine points clear and Sabri Lamouchi's men looking to gatecrash the automatic promotion picture, there was plenty at stake in the Black Country and the tensions were palpable.

It would be the hosts who began the brightest, seizing the initiative and penning Forest into their own half. The Baggies had their tails up, roared on by an electric atmosphere inside the opening stages.

Forest, however, created the first meaningful chance of the game when Yuri Ribeiro, twisting and turning down the left flank, picked out an unmarked Lewis Grabban in the penalty area, who severely misjudged his angles and headed wide from an enticing position just outside of the six-yard box. It was a stark warning sign for West Brom: no matter how much possession they had, the Reds had the offensive potency to pounce and deal damage.

Five minutes later, Matheus Pereira was on the floor receiving treatment after finding himself on the receiving end of a number of overly-zealous challenges. He would be joined on the deck by Cash, who seemed to take a knock to the knee, and later Ribeiro when Jake Livermore went in recklessly high with his studs up. Referee Keith Stroud saw nothing wrong with the tackle, and it set the tone for a match in which, at times, Forest fans felt as though Stroud and his officials were conspiring against those in red.

Nevertheless, the Baggies were smothering Forest with their press, and when Samba Sow - Forest's combative midfield destroyer - was caught dithering in possession in 37th minute, Pereira unleashed Callum Robinson. Coolness personified, Robinson slotted home.

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The triumph would only be short-lived, however, as Kyle Bartley's outstretched left leg turned Sammy Ameobi's devilishly whipped cross into the West Brom net to restore parity in the 45th minute.

Momentum ebbed and flowed but Forest had no doubt deserved this.  Ameobi would again prove vital, this time at the other end of the pitch, as his goalline block from Pereira's volley kept the scores tied. 

In the 65th minute, Forest's 6'4 winger was sent tumbling to the ground in what seemed a blatant trip. Lamouchi, incredulous, gesticulated wildly to the fourth official, but it was no use. As the Baggies surged forward on the counter-attack and the ball made its way out wide to Livermore it seemed almost inevitable that Albion would make Forest pay. 

Livermore's low cross fizzed into the path of Figuerido, who - with little time to sort his feet out - emulated his opposite number and diverted the ball past a hapless Brice Samba into his own net.

It didn't matter, though, as Cash ensured there would be one final twist in the tale.

A day to forget for Keith Stroud and his officials

Neither side had been at their best today, but Forest's cause was not helped by a succession of key decisions that seemed to go Albion's way.

The alleged bias began with Livermore's horror tackle on Ribeiro in the 17th minute, which - according to Stroud - didn't even warrant a card. Then came Cash's booking. Pereira has never been averse to delving into the dark arts when necessary, but the theatrical way in which he screamed and threw himself to the ground was nothing short of embarrassing. It provoked a yellow card for Cash, who was left to walk a tightrope for the remainder of the match. Not that it bothered him.

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Shortly after, Dara O'Shea wiped out Ribeiro in a manouvre straight out of the WWE ring as he contested for an aerial duel. Again no booking. Lamouchi was seething on the touchline, and rightly so, as - after the dismissal of appeals that Ameobi was fouled in the run-up to the second goal - Kyle Bartley then clearly handballed inside the penalty area when Joe Lolley knocked the ball past him. It came after Lolley had been brought to the ground in a similar area just minutes earlier. 

Anonymous Grabban 

With 16 goals to his name, the influence Lewis Grabban has on Trentside is indisputable. It is on days like today, though, when Grabban is unable to make his mark, that Forest falter. A spectator for large parts, Grabban had few touches and even fewer shots.

It is thought that he might have been carrying a niggle after a supposed injury in midweek, which - if true - would go some way to explaining his sub-par performance. A lack of service probably played its part as well.

The details are ambiguous, but what is crystal clear is that if the promotion bid is to be sustained, then Forest will need their talisman back to full fitness and back on top form as quickly as possible.