Joe Lolley’s shot strikes the underneath of the bar, rather than the top of it, and Nottingham Forest walk away from Pride Park with three points and derby bragging rights.

The Reds came so close to making that a reality at Pride Park on Monday night, with the width of the woodwork denying Aitor Karanka’s men.

A travelling army made their way back down Brian Clough Way, though, left to reflect on what could have been.

It has been a season of what ifs, of near misses and a sense that things could have been so different.

Back in August, what if Adlene Guedioura’s stunning effort from inside his own half had dropped the right side of the post and Forest had collected a victory over West Brom that their performance deserved?

So different

What if 16 shots at Swansea had delivered one goal, or 14 at home to Preston?

Lewis Grabban converts an early penalty at Blackburn and the Reds build from there to claim another away win.

The plot isn’t lost late on against Millwall and Norwich and the match officials at Leeds do their job and pull Kemar Roofe up for the most blatant of hand balls.

What if?

(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Life is, of course, full of such questions and it is best to avoid becoming too caught up in them.

 

The past cannot be changed, so let’s focus on the future.

That will be the message from Karanka to his troops as we approach the halfway point of the 2018/19 campaign.

Things could have been better, but they are pretty good and there is still all to play for.

If sporting clichés are to be believed, then Forest are also due a fair share of luck from this point.

Rub of the green

We are forever told that fortune evens itself over the course of a season, so the rub of the green should be coming the Reds’ way.

It could be argued that the football fates cancelled themselves out at Derby, with Tendayi Darikwa getting away with a high boot inside the box and the Rams squandering some decent chances of their own.

Forest, though, were so close once again.

A point away from home against a fellow promotion hopeful is not to be sniffed at and could prove priceless come the final reckoning.

It has been a case of so near, so far for the Reds – with a seventh-place standing another example of that – but there is plenty of time in which to avoid becoming the nearly men of the Championship.