Summer target Henri Lansbury was given his marching orders at the City Ground as Matt Taylor salvaged a point for the Clarets with a stunning late strike.
The hosts were a goal to the good courtesy of Eric Lichaj’s opener when the Forest skipper was dismissed, but they paid the price for their numerical disadvantage in the final minute of normal time.
The Championship fixture was goalless at the interval, but the Clarets weren’t without their chances.
Joey Barton went closest to finding the breakthrough when his deflected strike from 20 yards out cannoned back off the post after wrong-footing Dorus De Vries, while striker Andre Gray was thwarted by the linesman’s flag when converting the rebound.
Forest skipper Henri Lansbury, close to sealing a £4m move to Turf Moor in the summer, responded after the qyarter-of-an-hour mark but the midfielder’s drive from the edge of the box was diverted over the bar by the head of Michael Keane.
After Nelson Oliveira’s tame attempt from the edge of the box was gathered by Tom Heaton, the visitors swarmed to the other end where Scott Arfield guided the ball wide of the far upright from close range after Jack Hobbs inadvertently flicked in to his path from Matt Taylor’s delivery.
Lansbury’s next attempt was signposted when finding the gloves of England international Heaton midway through the half.
Dougie Freedman’s side, without defenders Michael Mancienne and Matt Mills as well as midfielders Kyle Ebecilio and Andy Reid, reverted back to a basic 4-4-2 having experimented with three at the back in recent weeks.
But their three banks lacked synchronicity, they looked open, disjointed and were slow to react to the second ball.
The Clarets provided the pressure to expose those frailties, but lacked the clinical edge to prescribe the punishment.
Taylor’s set-piece from 30-yards, conceded by Oliveira, was shaped around the outside of the wall and forced De Vries to turn around his near upright.
Keane escaped with a booking from referee Stuart Attwell when handling the ball as the last man under pressure from Oliveira but Jamie Ward struck the wall with the resulting set-piece.
And in the final minute of the half, Sam Vokes headed wide when stepping ahead of his marker to meet Tendayi Darikwa’s centre.
The hosts improved after the break, tightening up as Lansbury dropped deeper to bridge the gulf between defence and midfield while effectively breaking up the play.
Record signing Gray skied his effort when spinning Hobbs on the edge of the box early in the half while Ward’s speculative effort floated harmlessly over Heaton’s bar.
The home side soon found their stride and Oliveira had Heaton at full stretch when his right-footed strike whistled past the upright.
Forest went even closer minutes later when Ryan Mendes was denied by a magnificent reflex save from Heaton after substitute Dexter Blackstock had nodded Lichaj’s cross back across goal.
But they weren’t to be denied as the visitors failed to react. Lichaj found space infield, Burnley’s rearguard stepped off, and the full back, on his return from suspension, lashed an exquisite effort across Heaton and in to the corner.
The game changer arrived in the 74th minute. Ben Mee and Lansbury went in for the challenge only for the latter to stamp out at the Clarets left back. Attwell didn’t hesitate and immediately brandished the red card to send the midfielder trudging down the tunnel.
The away side pressed for an equaliser and Gray went close with minutes remaining when his right-footed strike from eight yards out span away from the far post.
Burnley, though, refused to quit. And, as they did against Leeds United on the opening day of the season, they struck in the closing stages.
Taylor’s sight of goal would’ve been obscured when the ball arrived at his feet but the former Hammer, in his first start of the term, scored for the third time this season when finding the top corner with a rocket of a left foot.
Vokes almost stole maximum points in stoppage time but his header from Michael Duff’s cross dipped over the bar.
There’s just the small matter of an East Lancashire derby against Rovers at Ewood Park on Saturday (kick off 12-30 p.m.) for Dyche’s side to prepare for now.