Nottingham Forest secured a semi-final spot in the FA Youth Cup with a dramatic 3-2 extra-time victory over Bolton at The City Ground this evening.Two goals from substitute Jordan Palmer-Samuels and a good finish by Derrick Otim were enough to book a date with either Everton or Norwich in the next round.
Zach Clough and a Kieran Fenton own goal had twice given the visitors the lead but a phenomenal display of character and ability saw Gary Brazil’s men through.
Forest made one change to the side which beat Huddersfield in the last round as goalkeeper Ross Durrant made way for fit-again Jordan Smith.
Billy Davies and a number of first-team players were in attendance and were treated to a second-minute wonder strike by Clough.
He picked it up 22 yards out and unleashed a stunning effort across Smith and into the top corner.
And it should have been 2-0 on 15 minutes when Chris Lester burst on to an excellent through ball to go one-on-one with Smith. The ‘keeper came a long way to put the Wanderer under pressure and he slid his effort wide of the post.
Jack Blake issued a response with a strong run down the right. He released Morgan Ferrier into the channel and his low cross was taken off the toes of Josh Thomas at the back post.
Forest’s tails were up and they had an equaliser on 19 minutes.
Ferrier held it up 25 yards out before flicking it into Blake’s path. He coolly played in Otim who slotted beyond Jan-Ole Seivers.
And the comeback was nearly complete on 27 minutes.
Blake’s half-cleared corner found its way to Thomas on the left. His first-time cross was inch perfect for Kieran Wallace but the midfielder mishit his volley and the ball fell to Lawrence Gorman on the edge of the area. The centre back was desperately unlucky to see his excellent strike crash off the bar.
Bolton reminded The Reds of their own threat on the half-hour mark as Lester jinked to the byline before firing his shot against Smith’s near post from a tight angle.
But Forest refused to let the visitors take the ascendancy and Blake flashed a warning shot just wide of the post at the other end after the ball broke to him at the edge of the ‘D’.
The chances kept coming as the half drew to a close.
Fenton sent a header straight at Seivers from Blake’s corner before Wallace saw his effort deflect wide for a corner with a minute of normal time remaining.
Wilfried Gnahore’s dipping injury-time free kick found the roof of the net and the sides went in level.
Both sides enjoyed chances early on in the second half.
The first fell to Blake, who made strides towards the edge of the Bolton area before seeing his left-footed effort deflect just wide of the post.
The visitors then attacked and Thomas Walker looked set to score at the back post before Fenton slid in brilliantly to send the ball out for a corner.
Forest were playing some good football and had carved out a number of half chances before Tom Youngs’ excellent 64th-minute run looked ominous for the hosts. He shot from inside the area but Gorman was on hand to block.
But his centre back partner could do nothing to prevent the visitors taking a fortunate lead six minutes later.
Lester did brilliantly to bring down a raking cross-field ball and his low cross from the right was turned into his own net by Fenton.
But Forest wouldn’t lie down and they levelled the scores for the second time on 77 minutes in stunning fashion.
Palmer-Samuels, on for Gnahore, had barely been on the pitch a minute before he benefited from an imaginative flick by Otim, sent a defender the wrong way and finished brilliantly.
And the striker almost combined with fellow substitute Danny Elliott, on for Thomas, minutes later but he couldn’t quite get on the end of the winger’s dangerous cross.
With seconds to play The Reds twice went close to snatching it. Otim’s pace took him away from the Wanderers defence but he could only fire straight at Seivers and moments later Ferrier’s powerful effort went just over.
And the hosts came agonisingly close to winning it with the last action of normal time. Blake sent in an excellent corner and Wallace met it well with his head. Seivers saved well with his feet and the ball spun towards the goal line where Jordan Hendrie was on hand to clear and send the match into extra time.
Forest continued their dominance after the restart and Ferrier flashed a shot over again nine minutes in.
But the two substitutes, who had so nearly combined at the end of normal time, fired Forest into the lead minutes later.
Elliott’s stepover took him away down the left and his low cross did all the work for Palmer-Samuels who was on hand to smash home from close range.
The Reds’ defence was immediately called into action as they set about maintaining the advantage. Clough burst into the area but Gorman did brilliantly to halt him.
The second half started in scrappy fashion as tired legs began to take their toll. Youngs saw his shot saved with nine minutes to go before Wallace fired a similar effort straight at Seivers from long range.
But an impressive combination of possession football and composed defending successfully saw the game out and the match finished 3-2 to Forest.
Forest: Smith, Hollingsworth, Kamaneno, Blake, Gorman, Fenton, Gnahore (Palmer-Samuels 75'), Wallace, Otim, Ferrier, Thomas (Elliott 56')
Subs not used: Ackroyd, Myles, Polimos
Scorer: Otim 19', Palmer-Samuels 77', 101'
Bolton: Seivers, Hendrie, Gibson, Holding, Maher, Bailey, Lester, Wolstenholme, Clough, Youngs, Walker
Subs: Hamer, Campbell, Newby, Nolan, Abbotts
Scorer: Clough 2', Fenton (og) 70'