Sheffield United produced a superb second-half turnaround to beat Nottingham Forest 3-1 in the FA Cup with Budweiser fifth round at Bramall Lane this afternoon.
Jamie Paterson had given The Reds a first-half lead with a superb header, but substitute Chris Porter scored twice at the death, adding to Conor Coady’s scrappy equaliser, to send The Blades into the next round.
Billy Davies made four changes to the side which won at Huddersfield Town in midweek. Jack Hobbs was missing with a minor ankle problem and Guy Moussi was also left out after injuring his calf at The John Smith’s Stadium. They were replaced by Danny Collins and Gonzalo Jara respectively, while goalkeeper Dorus de Vries was handed another run out after keeping a clean sheet in the fourth-round victory over Preston North End. Darius Henderson, returning to his former club along with Andy Reid and Greg Halford, was handed a start, Rafik Djebbour dropping to the bench, where there was also room for Jonathan Greening and Djamal Abdoun.
Both sides battled for control in the early minutes, which were played out amid a superb atmosphere. Forest claimed the first chance as Paterson led a quick break down the left before laying the ball inside for Reid. The Irishman had Radi Majewski to his right, and he picked out the Pole with a through pass. It had just too much weight behind it for Majewski as Blades defender Neill Collins got across to block. Keeper Mark Howard slid in to stop the ball going behind for a corner.
The hosts had their first shot of the afternoon shortly afterwards, John Brayford scuffing the ball straight at de Vries from the edge of the area, before Paterson showed more menace at the other end of the pitch.
He displayed quick feet on the edge of the area before drifting the ball across to Halford, who had run forward from right back. Halford nodded the ball back to the edge of the area where Paterson allowed it to bounce before sending his shot harmlessly over the bar.
Forest were appealing for a penalty on 21 minutes when, after Henderson had flicked the ball on in the area, Harry Maguire and Simon Cox tussled to get on the end of it. Cox went down under the attentions of the defender, referee Michael Oliver was unmoved and the ball landed safely in Howard’s grasp.
As the protests died down United took the ball upfield and saw Jose Baxter fire the ball straight at de Vries from 20 yards. A minute later, Jamaal Lascelles went into the book for a late lunge on Baxter in the centre.
The hosts may have been struggling in League One but they were doing their utmost to make life difficult for their visitors. Their keenness to win possession on 26 minutes appeared to result in a trip on Reid, but Mr Oliver waved play on, allowing Baxter to run at the heart of Forest’s back four. Lascelles stood him up and Baxter could only send the ball tamely at de Vries from the edge of the area.
Halford then set about creating an opportunity for himself, receiving Jara’s ball down the line, flicking it over the head of two defenders and volleying the ball a couple of yards over the bar from the corner of the box.
But it was from the opposite flank that The Reds had their breakthrough on 28 minutes. Danny Fox played it down the left for Reid, who produced an inch-perfect cross for Paterson. The in-form midfielder met the ball at the near post, heading it beautifully across goal and into the far corner of the net.
Keen to prevent the match slipping away from them, United responded. Majewski tripped Bob Harris in a dangerous crossing position. Maguire got his head to Baxter’s free-kick but got underneath the ball, heading it harmlessly wide.
And the hosts had a clear chance to level the scores on 34 minutes after breaking away. Baxter played the ball to Stefan Scougall, who was through on de Vries. The midfielder’s left-footed shot couldn’t beat the keeper, who held on to the ball at full stretch.
Reid blazed the ball over from range on 36 minutes, before Forest came close to doubling their advantage on the stroke of half-time. Reid swung the ball all the way through to the back post from a corner, where Lascelles was lurking ominously. Brayford was on hand to turn it behind, and Paterson’s resultant delivery was held by Howard as the fourth official signalled three minutes of added time at the end of the first half.
The only incident of note during those minutes came in the form of a Reid booking - for protesting a soft-looking free-kick - and The Reds went into the break 1-0 up.
Both sides emerged from the interval unchanged and within two minutes of the restart Harris was booked for a robust challenge on Cox.
The hosts otherwise started the half well. On 50 minutes, Jamie Murphy arrived late to latch on to Brayford’s low cross from the right. The winger couldn’t quite react in time to send the ball goalwards, bobbling it wide from seven yards.
Two minutes later, the ball was kept alive following Baxter’s outswinging corner. It dropped kindly for Maguire who allowed it to bounce before smashing towards goal. Jara did brilliantly to block with his body. From the resultant corner the ball came out to Scougall 20 yards out. The midfielder fired it through a crowd of bodies and de Vries showed excellent handling to keep hold of it.
Fox then found himself in the book after mistiming a challenge on Brayford before The Reds imposed their own threat on the second period.
Reid gave the ball to Paterson who shuffled it onto his right and curled it towards the bottom right-hand corner of the net. Howard dived to his left to push the ball away.
And within a minute Howard was called into action again. Halford’s long throw from the right caused havoc in the Blades box. Cox watched the ball bounce before firing it goalwards, drawing a superb reaction save from Howard.
Forest were in the ascendancy and Reid and Paterson linked up again just after the hour mark. This time Paterson didn’t get hold of his shot, bobbling the ball off the turf and into Howard’s grasp.
And on 66 minutes the scores were level. De Vries couldn’t hold on to a cross from the right, tangling with Lascelles as he desperately tried to reclaim the ball. Coady got there first, however, poking it into the empty net.
Jamie Mackie replaced Cox during the subsequent stoppage, and Forest soon set about regaining their advantage.
Maguire was booked for a late lunge on Reid on the edge of the Blades area. The Irishman took the resultant free-kick, curling the ball beautifully towards the top corner. Howard produced a fine acrobatic save to tip it over. The following corner was cleared before Djebbour replaced Henderson.
And the Algerian came close to giving Forest the lead when he tried to flick the ball on from Reid’s superb deep cross. His marker stood firm to block.
Mackie’s introduction had given Forest a different outlet, and the winger’s direct running drew a booking for Neill Collins with 15 minutes to play. The defender had tugged Mackie back and Reid’s inswinging free-kick was perfect for Halford. Under pressure, the versatile defender could only head the ball onto the roof of the net.
The visitors were making all the running at this point and Mackie was again involved a minute later. He raced down the left before firing the ball towards goal. It looped up off Maguire, over the bar and out for a corner. Nothing came from the set-piece.
Abdoun replaced Majewski shortly afterwards, before United reminded The Reds of their own threat. Murphy latched on to a long ball into the channel and fired a speculative shot towards goal. The ball looped up off Fox and de Vries had to touch it behind from the angle between his post and crossbar.
A minute later Reid picked the ball up in space and, encouraged by the travelling faithful in The Jessica Ennis Stand, dipped the ball just wide of the post from 25 yards.
But the home side were refusing to lie down. Scougall burst into Reds territory with six minutes to play, passing the ball to Baxter who was making strides down the left. The former Everton striker saw his shot pushed away by de Vries and Forest managed to clear the ball.
Two minutes later, Danny Collins was forced into a footrace with Murphy. The defender did brilliantly to get his toe to the ball to prevent the winger from going through one-on-one with de Vries.
But, in the final minute of normal time, the home side took the lead. Murphy got away from Reid down the left and fired the ball low into the area. Halford went to ground and the ball struck his hand. Mr Oliver pointed to the spot and Porter, on for Baxter, sent de Vries the wrong way, smashing the ball into the right-hand corner of the net.
The officials signalled six minutes of time for Forest to find an equaliser, but instead it was the hosts who next had the ball in the net. Murphy again wriggled away down the left and managed to squeeze the ball past de Vries and a cluster of defenders. Porter had the simple task of tapping it over the line to secure United’s passage into the quarter-finals.
Forest: De Vries, Halford, Collins, Lascelles, Fox, Jara, Reid (c), Majewski (Abdoun 78'), Paterson, Cox (Mackie 67'), Henderson (Djebbour 70')
Subs not used: Darlow, Harding, Greening, Derbyshire
Scorer: Paterson 28'
Bookings: Lascelles 23', Reid 45', Fox 54'
Sheffield United: Howard, Harris (Hill 90'), Brayford, Maguire, Flynn, Doyle (c), Baxter (Porter 87'), Collins, Coady (McGinn 90'), Scougall, Murphy
Subs not used: Miller, Long, Kennedy, De Girolamo
Scorers: Coady 66', Porter (pen) 90', 90'
Bookings: Harris 47', Maguire 68', Collins 75'
Referee: Michael Oliver
Attendance: 25,118 (Away: 5,434)