Elvis Otim's late penalty maintained Nottingham Forest's Under 18s' superb unbeaten run in a 1-1 draw against Birmingham City at a chilly Nigel Doughty Academy this afternoon.The Reds showed great resolve to weather several Birmingham storms and come away with a point, meaning they have now gone three months without tasting defeat.
Kevin MacDonald made ten changes from the side that impressively brushed West Bromwich Albion aside in the FA Youth Cup fourth round, with keeper Tim Erlandsson the sole survivor.
The new look Forest starters got off to the worst possible start and the visitors took the lead inside the first minute. Charlie Cooper collected the ball with purpose in central midfield, looked up intently and hit it crisply into the corner beyond Erlandsson's reach.
Birmingham's pace in attack caused The Reds problems with Beryl Lubala and Kyle McFarlane looking to get on the end of the route one diagonal balls that centre-halves Andreas Karo and Frederik Nielsen had to be awake for.
The hosts had dangers of their own and Kasheme Walton and Luke Thomas were a handful up top, with the former going close after breaking free from pressure on the ball and drilling a shot from 20 yards just wide of Jake Weaver's post.
Walton was then denied by an excellent stop from Weaver and the striker poked wide following good approach play from Thomas, but it was The Blues having marginally the better of the chances with Lubala seeing an effort trickle into the side-netting, before moments later firing past the post.
While the visitors were having the majority of the authoritative possession, they were failing to make the most of it in front of goal. It was much of the same in the opening second-half exchanges and McFarlane spurned an opportunity to extend his team's lead, curling it wide from close-range.
Substitute Khaleem Bailey nearly made an instant impact after coming on but he also lacked a clinical touch, drilling a shot wide that worried Erlandsson and soon after racing clear from the Forest defence before having his cross desperately cleared by Dylan Burns.
MacDonald's side were growing gradually into the half sensing they could grab at least a point and pounce on Birmingham's misfortune in front of goal. Kieran Hayes, stepping up from Forest's Under 16s side, was introduced and provided off-the-ball energy to apply pressure onto the opposition.
That helped his side up the ante and Nielsen sent a bullet header straight to Weaver from a lovely Jermaine Worthington corner to send out a warning sign that Forest were still in the game.
The warning wasn't taken notice of and Forest's late urgency was rewarded a couple of minutes from time. Liam Adams was challenged unfairly in the box and Otim stepped up to convert from the spot to get his third goal of the season and rescue a point at the death.
MacDonald's men are next in action against Burnley in the FA Youth Cup fifth round at The City Ground on Tuesday (27 January), 7pm kick-off.
Forest: Erlandsson, Diallo (Arrowsmith 57'), Karo, Nielsen, Worthington, Adams, Burns, Otim, Austin (Hayes 57'), Thomas, Walton