Brennan Johnson’s brace gives Nottingham Forest a point against Everton

Brennan Johnson’s double twice helped Nottingham Forest to a crucial point in their 2-2 draw with Everton in a crunch at the bottom of the Premier League.

First-half goals from Demarai Gray and Abdoulaye Doucoure had put the Toffees on course for a third win in six games under Sean Dyche at the City Ground.

But Johnson, neutralizing Gray’s early penalty, ensured his side earned some of the spoils with his second 13 minutes from time, keeping Everton and the teams below them at bay in the battle for relegation.

The Wales international is enjoying a torrid spell as he has scored five goals, including one assist, in his last seven Premier League games.

The draw also meant Forest went nine games unbeaten at home and the City Ground will decide Forest’s fate this season.

Everton, who had defeated Arsenal and Leeds at Goodison Park under Dyche, were aiming for a first away win in the league since October but have had to settle for a point that keeps them inside the bottom three behind Leeds on goal difference.

Things had gotten off to a promising start for the toffees.

Dyche, who still lives in Nottingham, has spent a lot of time at the city ground this season, having watched several games, and his side also felt at home when they started better.

Sean Dyche was a firm favorite at Nottingham Forest and still lives in the city (Image: Nick Potts/PA)

Their strong start was rewarded with a 10th-minute lead when Gray, making his first start under the new boss, made an instant impression, scoring from the point.

Dwight McNeil was brought down by Jonjo Shelvey and Gray sent goalkeeper Keylor Navas the wrong way with his penalty.

Forest’s response was good and it only took them nine minutes to regain their balance.

Morgan Gibbs-White and Chris Wood combined with a nice move, the former seeing his shot from the edge of Jordan Pickford’s cut area while Johnson was on hand to fire the rebound home.

That gave Forest a boost and they pressed for a second, with Wood deflecting a header, but Everton regained their lead against the flow of play just before the half-hour mark.

A contested free-kick that Forest felt should have been played was played into the box and Doucoure saved Michael Keane’s ball to go home from close range.

That changed the outlook for the game and Everton could have extended their lead before the break.

First McNeil saw a long-range curling shot tipped over by Navas and then Gray spurned a good opening at half-time when Doucoure hit him perfectly at the far post but Gibbs-White put in an important block.

Pressure on the game was felt by both groups of players as a bad-tempered affair unfolded, with several confrontations and ill-considered tackles after the break.

The regular stops helped Everton to no end as Forest couldn’t build momentum.

The visitors controlled the game, but Forest found the equalizer out of nowhere in the 77th minute.

Substitute Ryan Yates found space down the right and pulled it back to Johnson, who was unmarked in the area and expertly found the top corner.

He could have scored a match-winning hat-trick but drove just wide from a tight angle after Gibbs-White charged into the box and the game ended all-square.

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