Kasheme Walton's eighth goal in ten starts handed Nottingham Forest's Under 18s their ninth win in 11 games in a battling 1-0 victory over league leaders Huddersfield Town on Saturday afternoon.The Reds confidently stretched their magnificent unbeaten run that began on November 1 and Walton's 81st-minute strike saw his side to the familiar feeling of success at The Nigel Doughty Academy.
Kevin MacDonald made five changes from the starting line-up that impressively dismantled Burnley in the FA Youth Cup last 16 tie at The City Ground in late January, with Andreas Karo, Jermaine Worthington, Elvis Otim, Luke Thomas and Walton given the chance to shine.
Alex Iacovitti has started in all three of Forest's FA Youth Cup ties and he had the opening opportunity of the game carved out by Worthington as the hosts began productively. The centre back stretched to connect to an outswinging corner to head just wide of Tadhg Ryan's post.
The Terriers sit top of the league table but they were struggling to have a say in the early stages and Thomas fired over following threatening attacking play from Walton.
The latter's forward partner Gerry McDonagh continued to cause a problem with his back to goal, scrapping with Huddersfield's centre halves to allow time for midfield runners Matty Cash and Otim to move up the pitch to cause damage.
The visitors grew into the game as the half went on and Fraser Horsfall will have wished he had the opportunity again, failing to get on top of a header after being left free from a corner.
Diminutive winger Jack Boyle played in galloping full back Jack Senior who rifled across the face of the goal to send out a warning before Reds keeper Tim Erlandsson had to be at his best to deny Danny Kane's effort.
The second period brought a livelier away side looking for revenge after MacDonald's men ran out 2-1 winners in the reverse fixture back in early December.
Forest's defensive organisation was tested to extremes as Horsfall nodded wide from a set-piece midway through the half, but the hosts struggled to contain the tall centre back and soon after he smashed a header onto the bar following a teasing delivery that evaded the back line.
Despite the obvious quality of both teams, the game struggled for rhythm as the whistle could often be heard as passions ran high and the referee punished the over-zealousness of Karo, McDonagh and Worthington with bookings.
Decision-making looked like it would decide the encounter with both sides lacking in the final third when it really mattered.
McDonagh drove forward and unleashed an effort from 20 yards that went over before the Irishman squeezed a shot away that was saved after good work on the right-wing from the energetic Otim, which typified Forest's frustrations.
But just as the match looked as if it would fizzle out towards the end, the in-form Reds showed gritty character to believe in their attacking abilities and took the lead.
Walton received the ball from Cash, wriggled his way into the box ignoring the challenges of a couple of defenders and struck low into the bottom corner past a stretching keeper.
Huddersfield immediately sought an equaliser a couple of minutes later through Sam Warde who fiercely lashed towards Erlandsson's net, but the Swede reacted brilliantly to palm away.
The West Yorkshire outfit continued to press in search for a goal and Regan Booty launched a free-kick over as Forest shrewdly limited chances, keeping their shape and discipline to close down the angles, thus halting any creativity.
With the clock ticking and the away side committing bodies forward, tireless attacking midfielder Cash surged purposefully on the counter and played Thomas in but he didn't catch the ball cleanly and he failed to extend the lead.
The Reds professionally nullified the opposition's dangers and collected their fourth clean sheet in five games, their best defensive run of the season and a deservedly fitting representation of their workmanlike performances from front to back.
The Under 18s will be hoping to continue their marvellous run when they face Sheffield United on the road in their next game on Friday (13 February, 11am kick-off).
Kevin MacDonald's youngsters will have all eyes on proceedings in North London this evening as Tottenham Hotspur take on Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup to decide who travels to The City Ground to face Forest in the quarter-finals.
Forest: Erlandsson, Yates, Karo, Iacovitti, Worthington, Otim, Cash, Crookes, Thomas, Walton, McDonagh