Tyler Walker and Matthew Cash got Nottingham Forest’s Under 21s back to winning ways as they beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at The Nigel Doughty Academy this afternoon.Walker put Forest in the lead in the first half with a close-range finish before Cash put the gloss on his team’s fine performance in the 70th minute to hand Jimmy Gilligan’s side their first win in four games.
Having conceded 15 goals in their past four games the clean sheet will be a particular boost to the side, particularly considering experienced striker Andy Johnson started for Crystal Palace.
Roger Riera skippered the home side, who lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Oliver Burke and Deimantas Petravicius either side of Walker, and the striker had a half-chance early on, reaching the byline but failing to make good contact with a high ball.
And after an even start Forest slowly took control of the game. A deep cross from Petravicius found Burke, but his header went just over the bar.
Cash had a chance to put The Reds ahead soon after, shooting wide after Ilias Polimos’ cross, and then Burke made the byline after patient Forest build up but his cross was cleared. The play was encouraging and Forest were getting plenty of joy down the right hand side.
And, on the half hour mark, that was where the breakthrough came from. Polimos was cleverly played in by central midfielder Wilfried Gnahore and found himself with lots of time. He steadied himself before delivering a dangerous cross from the byline that Walker poked home from three yards out.
30 seconds later it was so nearly two. Straight from the kick-off The Reds won the ball back and Burke was played in on the right. He ran at the heart of the Palace defence and shot across goal, but the ball whistled an inch wide. It was a let off for the visitors.
Joe Worrall picked up the first booking of the game not long before half-time for kicking the ball away, and then Palace nearly pegged Forest back. Kyle De Silva ran from deep, beat two men, but slipped at the crucial moment and his shot from the edge of the box trickled wide.
Hiram Boateng then forced a good save from Ross Durrant in the Forest net but The Reds preserved their lead and went into the break a goal up.
And they were back on the front foot at the start of the second period with Burke again dangerous, testing Lewis Price in the visiting goal with a 25-yard strike ten minutes in.
After a bright start to the half things settled down slightly, but in the 70th minute Forest doubled their lead. After a fine run down the left Gnahore delivered a precise low cross that picked out the onrushing Cash, who confidently slotted the ball home from 12 yards.
Both Burke and Walker had further chances to extend the lead but the former shot over and the latter’s effort was deflected wide for a corner before the final whistle went.
It was a fine performance from Jimmy Gilligan and Jake Wigley’s side, who limited Palace – and Andy Johnson – to few chances.
Forest: Durrant, Polimos, Kelley, Crookes, Worrall, Riera (c), Burke, Cash, Gnahore (Todorov 80’), Petravicius (Rees 49’).