Danny Haynes salvaged a share of the spoils with a dramatic last-gasp equaliser at Forest.
City made two changes as Saborio and Hartley were recalled at the expense of Lee Johnson and Jamie McCombe as Gary Johnson switched to a 4-3-3.
Nicky Maynard was the first to thrust into the game by scything down Chris Gunter to earn a booking in the opening minute as the game kicked off at a frenetic pace.
Joe Garner sent a 25-yarder high and wide for Forest whilst Haynes nodded a McAllister cross off target as the game lacked clear-cut chances or major incident.
Garner flashed his 37th minute wide of Gerken’s post after being picked out by the direct wing-play of Paul Anderson in what was to prove the first-half’s best chance.
City came out after the break showing more purpose and only a last-ditch Wes Morgan block stopped Maynard from a clear run on goal.
Gavin Williams was entered the fray on the hour, replacing Evander Sno who was on a booking, and saw his dipping volley warm the hands of Camp in the Forest goal.
Saborio then felt he had a cast-iron penalty moments later when his effort appeared to be blocked by a hand but referee Taylor was having none of it.
Former City striker Dele Adebola game on as Forest saught a more direct approach to make something happen, City responded by bringing on McCombe to keep the big lump quiet as Johnson changed to a 3-5-2.
Despite the changes, Clarkson came on for his first appearance since August after McAllister was unable to continue and Johnson duly changed to a 4-4-2! The more this went on the more it resembled a painstaking game of poker.
On 74 minutes, Anderson was poised to open the scoring only to be brilliantly denied by Cole Skuse’s timely tackle following good work from substitute Gareth McCleary.
Then with only five minutes to go, the game finally came to life.
Former Yeovil playmaker Chris Cohen sent in an inswinging free-kick from the right which caused pandemonium in the City box before breaking lose for Wes Morgan to smash home.
Earnshaw should have sealed it but blazed over the bar following an alert cut-back from Adebola and Forest were to rue the miss moments later.
Hartley pinged a high ball onto the head of McCombe, who nodded into the path of Danny Haynes to fire home the late, late equaliser in front of the City contingent.
FOREST (4-3-3): Camp, Gunter, Morgan, Wilson, Cohen, Majewski (Adebola 57), Moussi, McKenna, Anderson, Garner (McCleary 65), McGoldrick (Earnshaw 73).
CITY (4-4-2): Gerken, Skuse, Carey, Nyatanga, McAllister (McCombe 69), Hartley, Elliott, Sno (Williams 59), Haynes, Maynard, Saborio (Clarkson 75).
REFEREE: Anthony Taylor (Manchester)
Dean Gerken 6
Had absolutely nothing to do asides from pick the ball out of the net, and he had no chance with stopping that. His kicking went a bit astray though.
Cole Skuse 7
Deployed at right-back in Bradley Orr’s absence and had a neat and tidy game. Saved a certain goal in the second half with a brilliantly timed tackle.
Jamie McAllister 7
Was a decent outlet on the left again and is in decent form at the moment. Defended resolutely against the lively Anderson.
Lewin Nyatanga 7
Another sound performance at the back. Clearly relishing playing alongside Carey and looks a lot more solid for it. Looked quietly strong today.
Louis Carey 7
Led from the front, as he always seems to do. Marshalled those around him superbly and defended well.
He was like a brick wall today and nothing was getting passed him.
Paul Hartley 7
Great vision and passing ability. Helped set up the stoppage time equaliser by picking a pass out of nowhere. Just about pipped Carey to MOTM today.
Marvin Elliott 7
Put in another robust display in midfield and seems to enjoy playing alongside Hartley even if a few passes went astray.
Evander Sno 6
Probably our best player early on but faded as the game went on. Looked jaded when he was taken off with half hour to go.
Danny Haynes 7
Pace was a threat to Forest in the second half and popped up with the finish when it mattered. Kept going until the end and like his strike partner ran his heart out.
Nicky Maynard 7
Tireless game from Maynard despite not really having a sniff on goal. Ran his heart out for the team today.
Alvaro Saborio 5
The dury’s very much out on Alvaro, who was largely anonymous throughout. Struggled to get into the game and make a positive impact.
Gavin Williams 7
Purposeful cameo when he replaced Sno. Wasn’t afraid to try his luck form distance and looking the fittest he has for a while at the moment.
Jamie McCombe 6
Did his job well – both in defence and attack. Stifled Adebola when he came on and had a hand in the equaliser.
Not really enough time to make an impression and was played out of position. Looks to me like he’s lost some strength too.
GARY JOHNSON – 6/10
Still don’t think he knows his best team and we were dire early on. Luckily, so were Forest. He wasn’t afraid to mix up the formation and tactics though and gave enough time for his players to hurt the opposition.
BILLY DAVIES – 6/10
Has the makings of a good side up there and tried to force the game. Made positive changes to try and win it but I’m sure he will be rueing that Earnshaw miss as they’re not clinical enough, despite having all that firepower to choose from.
Dire Game, Good Point
This wasn’t a game for the purist as it lacked any real quality what-so-ever. We certainly weren’t at our best but showed real resilience to come back with a point against one of our bogey teams.
Definitely another good point to gain but that winless record up there go on for another year.
Spare A Thought For Ivan
It’s been a terrible week for City winger Ivan Sproule, who’s missed the trip to Nottingham because his second child was still born on Tuesday.
From all of us at Vital, our sincere condolences are with you and your family at this time.