Nottingham Forest Under 18s came from behind to salvage a well-earned 1-1 draw against Burnley at The Nigel Doughty Academy on Saturday afternoon.
Mike Mellon gave Burnley the lead at the start of the second half, before Detlef Esapa Osong equalised late on with a fierce strike to secure the young Reds’ first home point since November.
Chances were few and far between in the opening stages, as both sides tried to adapt to the windy conditions at the club’s training ground. Matty Carson almost scored directly from a corner within two minutes, but Nykah Liburd-Hines was alert to palm the ball away at the near post.
Ethan Dekel-Daks had a couple of shooting opportunities midway through the half. The midfielder curled an effort over from long-range, before hitting a volley first-time from the edge of the box that was blocked.
The Reds’ first clear sight of goal came on 31 minutes when Dekel-Daks’ lofted pass found Francky Amekortu who drove inside from the right, but he fired over from around 18 yards out.
Moments later, Burnley had an excellent chance to take the lead. Carson delivered a teasing free-kick from the right which was flicked on to Fin Armstrong whose close-range shot hit the post and was cleared, as it ended goalless at the break.
The visitors began the second period on the front foot and they opened the scoring three minutes after the restart. Brad Holmes broke clear on the left and clipped the ball across to Mellon in space who poked home from a couple of yards out.
Forest responded well to going a goal down and had a superb chance through Gibson-Hammond, however, the winger dragged his shot inches past the far post.
Gibson-Hammond showed more good work when he clipped a cross which dropped to Amekortu inside the area whose goal-bound attempt was clawed away by Burnley ‘keeper Lewis Thomas.
As the half wore on, Gareth Holmes’ side continued to build pressure and pin Burnley into their own half. Dekel-Daks came close with just seven minutes left on the clock after he found room on the edge of the box and drove a shot that crashed off the woodwork and away to safety.
The Reds dominated large spells of the second half and were rewarded when they found that elusive leveller on 88 minutes through Esapa Osong. The striker shrugged off his marker before drilling a powerful effort which flew into the top left-hand corner, leaving Thomas with no chance.
Dekel-Daks almost won it in added-time, but his dipping free-kick was kept out, as Forest picked up a credible draw in the Professional Development League.
Forest: Liburd-Hines, Bello, McAdam, Mutoti, Sanders (c) (Soloman 79’), Donnelly, Amekortu (Korpal 83’), Hammond, Esapa Osong, Dekel-Daks, Gibson-Hammond
Subs not used: Bott, Perkins
Goal: Esapa Osong 88’