Tyler Walker’s superb hat-trick sent Nottingham Forest’s Under 18s through to the last 16 of the FA Youth Cup with a 3-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion.
The in-form striker scored three fine second-half goals at The Hawthorns to set up a City Ground tie against the winners of the fourth-round game between Burnley and Cardiff City and seal The Reds' sixth straight win in the process.
Forest began on the front foot and had the first chance of the game after 80 seconds. Tyler Walker capitalised on a dreadful error at the back and lashed a bobbling ball just wide on Ethan Ross’s goal.
The Baggies started to show their attacking prowess and Jonathan Leko went close after cutting inside but his effort from 20 yards curled over.
The Reds were showing glimpses of quality with Gerry McDonagh proving a constant threat up front with his bustling, but the hosts caused problems at the back for Forest too through Leko and Andre Wright, without creating too many openings.
Matty Cash raced onto a loose ball, noticed the keeper off his line and attempted an audacious lob but the keeper back-tracked to clutch gratefully.
Four-goal hero from the third-round Samir Nabi struck a fierce shot from range that Tim Erlandsson dived at full-stretch to grab and Cash had another drive from distance that Ross saved comfortably as Forest looked dangerous, with Oliver Burke in particular with his menacing, purposeful runs.
Set-piece specialist Jack Kelly swung in a free-kick from the right which was flicked on with rasp by Walker who sent it down the keeper’s throat.
A Kelly corner was the route for the counter-attack of the first half as The Baggies sprung forward on break and Nabi grafted inside the area but had his effort blocked by a desperate Forest defence.
The second period opened as evenly as the first ended with Kelly inflicting danger with another free-kick for Forest which this time was deflected just wide with the keeper worried.
Kevin MacDonald’s side were left seething moments later after referee Ollie Yates adjudged that Burke was brought down just outside the area, with the winger convinced otherwise and he sought justice with the following set-piece but his header was diverted away.
The dangerous Nabi nearly put the hosts in the lead with a drilled 25 yarder that he pulled just wide.
The game seemed was showing glimpses of coming to life and it took a quality piece of work from Burke to open the scoring. The winger grafted fantastically on the right-wing and teed it up perfectly for Walker who poked home from close-range.
Forest burst into life and soon found their second. McDonagh was brought down in the box after muscling his way through and Walker stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to notch another goal.
Stunned by the two goals, The Baggies began pressing and Philip Gannon drilled wide from distance, with McDonagh going close for The Reds after more good work from the busy Kelly, Burke and Walker.
Kevin MacDonald’s efficiently organised men ended the game with an excellent maturity defending from the front with the ever-willing McDonagh and Walker harassing the opposition defence, and Cash running back and forth.
With the game fizzling out, there was still time for Walker to complete a fine team and individual display and grab his hat-trick. The striker beat the offside trap, raced through one-on-one and slotted it past the keeper.
Forest: Erlandsson, Yates, Worrall, Iacovitti, Kelly, Burke, Cash, Crookes, Gamblen, Walker, McDonagh
Goals: Walker 70', 74' (pen), 90'