Kasheme Walton’s brace helped Nottingham Forest’s Under 18s to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Coventry City on Saturday afternoon and ensured they moved to within five points of top spot.
The striker took his tally to 11 goals for the season while Elvis Otim also notched as The Reds scored three goals in a memorable first-half to silence the Sky Blues under the watchful eye of new manager Tony Mowbray at The Alan Higgs Centre.
Jack Lester made one change from the starting line-up that drew 0-0 with Barnsley last weekend, with attacker Gerry McDonagh coming in to replace Dylan Burns.
The hosts carved out the opening opportunity of the match as a wind-assisted cross came in for Bassala Sambou, who misjudged the flight of the ball to head tamely towards Reds keeper Tim Erlandsson.
And a ruthless Forest made them pay shortly afterwards, with their first action of an emphatic first 45 minutes. Walton was felled in the box as he attempted to stride past his marker and the in-form forward took the responsibility on himself, tucking away the resulting penalty into the far right corner past Jake Richards to give his side the lead.
Defender Frederik Nielsen was ambitious in his quest for his first goal since joining the club, but he saw his laced free-kick from 30 yards thunder just wide.
The Sky Blues then began to grow in the game, looking composed in possession but they had difficulties cutting the visitors open, with Forest’s two banks of four remaining strong and disciplined.
A rare lapse saw George Thomas find room inside the box following some clever approach play, but his effort was blocked. Erlandsson then made a comfortable save from a Devon Kelly-Evans strike, diving to his right.
The Reds then scratched the scars of the opposition’s defence seeking a second goal, with Walton getting threaded through and firing towards the keeper, before The Reds’ number nine had another shot blocked.
But he couldn’t be denied for much longer and he doubled the lead on 40 minutes. Pouncing on a loose back pass, Walton raced through and rounded the keeper to place into the empty net.
Four minutes later, Forest put the ribbons on a superb clinical display and got their third. Left-back Jermaine Worthington showed great energy to surge forward and he teed up Otim perfectly, and the winger made no mistake letting the ball run across his body and stroking it home from close range.
Luke Thomas lined up on the left side of midfield and he nearly got his team a fourth goal after the interval, but Richards made a relatively simple stop. Coventry’s Thomas had a lob that went waywardly wide of the post as he sought to make a game of it.
Walton turned provider for McDonagh who got caught in two minds with just the keeper to beat, unsure over whether to take it around the keeper or dink it in, and Richards rapidly smothered.
Forest looked cool, calm and mature as they continued to steal the ball from the opposition’s toes before they could contemplate making a telling final pass, and then breaking forward with intense athletic purpose.
Late on, Otim attempted a fierce strike from just inside the area that crashed into the bar, which would’ve been a spectacular end to a good day on the road for the Under 18s.
Lester’s side, who have won eight of their last 11 unbeaten league encounters, are now finely poised heading into the season’s home straight, finding themselves five points off top with only five games to go following the slip-up of league leaders Huddersfield Town who lost 3-0 at the weekend.
Forest’s Under 16s were also in action at The Alan Higgs Centre on Saturday, suffering a 4-0 defeat to the Sky Blues’ youngsters.
The Under 18s continue their title charge in their next game against Leeds United at The Nigel Doughty Academy on Saturday, March 14 (11.30am kick-off).
Forest: Erlandsson, Karo, Nielsen, Iacovitti, Worthington, Otim, Crookes (c), Yates, Thomas, Walton, McDonagh (Adams 85’)