A late extra-time strike from Tyler Walker sent Nottingham Forest’s Under 18s to the FA Youth Cup fourth round after a thrilling game against MK Dons at The City Ground.
The Reds showed quality character clawing their way back from 2-1 down to eventually win 3-2 and Walker’s goal followed strikes from Kasheme Walton and Jack Kelly to hand Forest a tasty fourth-round tie against West Bromwich Albion.
The hosts began the game on the front-foot and the first genuine chance fell to the hosts, but Alex Iacovitti’s header was saved at the near-post by Dons keeper Andrew McCorkell.
The Reds continued to apply pressure onto the opposition and took the lead. Matty Cash ran superbly through the heart of the opposition midfield and was brought down just on the edge of the area, providing the opportunity for Kelly to lash home a free-kick from 18 yards to put his side in front.
Kevin MacDonald’s men soon had to be at their best defensively and Joe Worrall made an excellent block on the line to deny star-striker Kabongo Tshimanga.
The visitors were showing zest going forward and got their equaliser five minutes after falling behind. Full-back Gedeon Okito strode forward and curled a teasing delivery around to the back-post and Kelly slid in desperation and guided it into the back of his own net.
The Reds stepped it up a level and Iacovitti had a bullet header saved well by McCorkell, but Tshimanga was still proving a thorn for the defence and he raced through one-on-one but Tim Erlandsson made a fantastic stop with his legs. The Swedish stopper had to be alert once again to tip Giorgio Rasulo’s shot around the post.
MacDonald’s men looked potent in the final third and the physical Gerry McDonagh was the route for Forest’s next chance. He muscled his way superbly into the box and put it on a plate for Cash who had his close-range effort saved by the keeper as it looked destined for the bottom corner.
The game looked to be heading into the break with the scoreline level but The Dons struck seconds before the half-time whistle after the ball found its way to Ben Tilney on the left who smashed it past Erlandsson from the edge of the six-yard-box.
After the break the hosts came under immediate pressure and could’ve soon seen their opponents stretch the lead. Erlandsson was on hand to palm a Rasulo free-kick over and Tshimanga had a golden chance but headed wildly over from with the goal gaping.
Forest started to grow into the second half and chances started to come their way. Cash and Tyler Walker both had shots blocked and Worrall had a great header instinctively stopped by McCorkell.
Cash was at the forefront of the offensive moves and turned his man exquisitely to fire a left-footed shot towards goal that McCorkell once again had to be alert for.
The game appeared to be petering out with little from both sides until Oliver Burke got the ball and showed a tremendous burst of pace to set up Forest’s leveller. The winger delivered an inch-perfect ball for substitute Kasheme Walton who coolly slotted past a static opposition keeper.
The Dons seemed to be tiring and the resurgent hosts smelt blood and the impressive Cash ran through and threaded a ball wisely through to Walker who was well denied by McCorkell. The Dons quickly went up to the other end with the game open and Tshimanga dragged his shot wide.
With Burke providing a constant threat down Forest’s right, he teed up a shrewdly-positioned Walker admirably at the back-post who struggled to keep his shot down as it fizzled over. The game at this point was well and truly an open spectacle and the visitors were not letting Forest getting amongst them with their pacey attack continuing to be an issue.
With the match into extra-time, Forest were emphatically dominant and were oozing confidence with the attacking players looking eager to grab the winner. Ryan Yates put in a fantastic ball for Worrall who was adjudged to be onside, but the centre-back had his shot palmed away.
The rain teemed down and players began to stiffen up and the busy McDonagh was inches from getting a winning goal for his side. Walton cleverly controlled and played the Irishman through whose left-footed scuffed shot narrowly went wide.
The Dons were the shadow of their former selves as the match progressed and Forest got a dramatic winner to take them into the next round. Walker cleverly worked in the box and unleashed a ruthless piledriver into the roof of the net past a helpless McCorkell.
MacDonald’s resolute men performed stoutly in the latter stages and could’ve extended their lead when Cash weaved his way into the area and got a tame shot away.
The strength in the Forest ranks told and the depth dragged Forest through into the next round to face West Brom at The Hawthorns after their 8-1 victory over Torquay United tonight.
Forest: Erlandsson, Worrall, Nielsen (Yates), Iacovitti, Kelly, Burke, Cash, Crookes (Karo), Thomas (Walton), McDonagh, Walker