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Match Reports

Nottingham Forest 1 Burnley 1

Andre Gray strikes again as Clarets continue build-up with drawat the City Ground

29 July 2017

Andre Gray stayed in the groove as the Clarets maintained their unbeaten start to their pre-season campaign.

Gray followed up his hat-trick just up the road at Alfreton a week ago with a further goal to cancel out a first-half own-goal from Ben Mee as the fast-starting striker again showed his finishing instincts.

And with Forest less than a week away from their Championship opener, this was another useful run-out for the Clarets, who used 19 outfield players to demonstrate their growing strength in depth.

The home side understandably looked fully cooked at times as they bid to make amends for last season’s flirtation with the drop.

And that meant Sean Dyche’s men had to work hard for their reward, secured through Gray’s second-half strike on another afternoon when the manager looked like he will have plenty competition for places when the real business starts.

The Clarets started with a new-look formation as Dyche continued to weigh up his options and get the necessary game time into as many of his squad as possible ahead of the big kick-off.

Jack Cork was deployed in a deep-lying central midfield role behind Steven Defour and Jeff Hendrick, with Jon Walters and Ashley Barnes filling the wider positions in support of Gray.

It meant plenty of flexibility and fluidity to the Clarets’ play as they had the better of the opening 20 minutes.

And it was only the fingertips of goalkeeper Jordan Smith and the width of the crossbar which prevented them taking the lead as Walters almost got another pre-season goal.

Swapping sides to pop up in the left-hand side of the penalty area, Walters was perfectly picked out by Andre Gray after Cork’s pass had allowed Gray to run at the Forest defence.

Walters did everything right with a diving header back across goal but Smith’s touch was enough to take the ball onto the bar and away to safety.

Gray did have the ball in the net shortly afterwards but a tight offside decision went against the Clarets’ man.

And Forest – less than a week away from their curtain-raiser at home to Millwall – then enjoyed their best spell to take a lead into half-time.

Mark Warburton’s side, including former Burnley defender Tendayi Darikwa less than a week after his move from Turf Moor, were tidy in possession and when they broke down the left, Ben Osborn's cross was diverted into his own net by Mee as the defender looked to stop new signing Daryl Murphy opening his Forest account from inside the six-yard box.

The former Newcastle frontman could then have made it 2-0 after Matt Lowton’s headed back-pass had sold Tom Heaton short.

Murphy won possession and looked a certain scorer with a shot on the turn only for Heaton to recover make a remarkable smothering save.

Dyche made his first change at the break with Cork making way for Ashley Westwood and the Clarets levelled six minutes into the second half.

Tellingly, Lowton got forward well in the opening exchanges following the re-start and after being played in by Westwood he failed to pick out a team-mate when a shot might have been a better option.

But when the opportunity arose again from a Walters’ pass, Lowton crossed perfectly for Gray to sweep in the equaliser at the far post.

Gray had one further chance which he steered too close to Smith as Burnley stepped it up in a more familiar 4-4-2 formation and Walters looked as though he should have been awarded a penalty when pushed over by Andreas Bouchalakis.

And after Forest had enjoyed a spell of late pressure - combined with the last of the multiple changes which saw the return of Scott Arfield after international duty and a few minutes for new signing Phil Bardsley - there was one more chance for the Clarets to win it.

Substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson did all the work himself with a storming run inside before letting fly with a left-footed shot, which Smith kept out to keep the both sides' unbeaten pre-season records intact as the real thing looms.

Nottingham Forest: Smith, Darikwa, Mancienne (Hobbs 60), Worrall, Traore, Vaughan (Bouchalakis ht), Osborn, Clough, Brereton (Ward ht (Cummings 60), McKay, Murphy (Vellios 60). Substitutes: Evtimov, Cohen, Hobbs, Lam.

Burnley: Heaton, Lowton (Bardsley 73), Mee (Taylor 76), Tarkowski, Ward, Hendrick (Gudmundsson 81), Cork (Westwood ht), Defour (Arfield 60), Gray (Agyei 81), Barnes (Brady 60), Walters (Vokes 73). Substitutes: Pope, Long, Anderson.

Referee: Andy Woolmer

Attendance: 10,231 (Burnley 566)


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