QPR U18 (2) – Nottingham Forest U18 (2)

FA Youth Cup 3rd Round

Team: Deane, Harriman, Sanderson, Doughty, O’Donnell, Olley, Bewick, Gibbons, Sharif, Henry-Francis, Andrade.
Subs: Graham, Parmenter, Francis, Sendles-White, Walker.

I was pleased to note that this time the scoreboard was operational and we even had an announcer on the PA, well done to the club for rectifying this. Saturday’s league match with Wycombe at Bisham Abbey was postponed and the only change from the previous starting line-up saw the return of Bruno Andrade in place of Bagasan Graham. Forest are an Academy side and currently hold 4th position after 11 matches, winning 6 and losing 5, with Middlesbrough in top spot.

The visitors could of taken the lead in the 3rd minute when a squared ball across the box was belted over the bar. However, a few minutes later Forest took the lead. A corner was swung in and Byrne headed powerfully into the back of the net. Michael Doughy, was as always, in the thick of it and an opportunist shot from him was actually going wide, but Ben Gathercole decided to put the ball round for another corner. At the other end, a corner knocked in from the left found a Forest player who hit the ball first time and it ended up just over the bar. A throw-in from Michael Harriman was collected by Michael Doughty who proceeded to fire just wide.

Latching on to a long ball, Marcel Henry-Francis persevered his way through two Forest defenders and then pressurised their keeper in fumbling the ball, but the R’s No.10 couldn’t quite reach it and a Forest defender tidied up by putting it out for a corner. Whilst a Forest player was down, Michael Doughty was patiently waiting to take a corner. He walked down towards the dug-out to guzzle a drink from Marc Bircham, but the linesman signalled to him to return to the corner flag despite the Forest player still receiving treatment ! In the latter stages of the half, Sam Bewick was booked and Bruno Andrade switched to the right flank. Half-time: 0-1.

Forest really should of doubled their lead after the interval when their No.10 was clean through and faced Gareth Deane one-on-one, but our keeper made a very good save, diving low to his left to deny him. The temperature continued to drop and with it the icy patches on the pitch were becoming more and more prevalent. Bruno Andrade took off down the left wing and as he cut inside, it was clearly evident that his marker was still tugging at him as he got into the box where he ended up on the ground. Michael Doughty, the son of the Forest Chairman, stepped up to convert the penalty after 64 minutes. Some smart defending by one of our centre backs, I think it was Stephen O’Donnell, when he intercepted a good cross over from the right and cleared the danger by putting the ball out for a corner.

The visitors had another very good chance when the Forest player flicked the ball on the outside of his boot, but it went straight at Gareth Deane who was well positioned to make the save. Forest were awarded a penalty after 79 minutes when Stephen O’Donnell was adjudged by Mr Hicks to have fouled Bamford, who then made no mistake from the spot. ‘Bags’ Graham replaced Michael Harriman, Jordan Gibbons reverted to full-back and after 83 minutes, Mo Sharif got into a good position and although his initial shot was blocked, it came back to him, and made no mistake with his follow-up shot which he belted into the net. Forest had another good opportunity, but the unmarked player put the ball over. Three added minutes went up and the R’s youngsters were going down at regular intervals with cramp.

At the start of extra time, Jordan Walker came on for Mo Sharif and later Adam Francis was introduced at the expense of Bruno Andrade. Apart from the colour of his hair, you can’t help thinking that Jordan Walker reminds you a bit of Gary Waddock with his terrier style of play. Forest were awarded a free kick outside the box which Gareth Deane saw very late, but he still managed to get down to his right and palm the ball away. The visitors had another good opportunity straight after the ball was knocked virtually across the goal-line and the R’s keeper was called upon to make another good save from close range. The scores were still level at 2-2 after the first period of extra time.

Players were now dropping in discomfort from both sides and I knew what Clive Kingham meant when he remarked that the match was almost coming to a stand-still .Tiredness, cramp, freezing conditions and with no more possible substitutions, Michael Doughty could hardly run ! We hoped for a goal from somewhere, but it was Luke Olley who made a great block/tackle to clear the danger. A final 2 minutes were added and there was still time for Sam Bewick to fire just over the bar, but it was to be a penalty shoot-out that would decide the tie.

Bryne took the first spot kick for Forest and scored: 0-1

Sam Bewick made no mistake with his: 1-1

Their number 8 placed the ball the same side as Byrne: 1-2

Adam Francis ‘s penalty went over the bar: 1-2

The next one was placed the same side as the others and also found the back of the net: 1-3

Marcel Henry-Francis kept us in it with his well taken penalty: 2-3

The next one was also put away in the right-hand corner: 2-4

Michael Doughty had been struggling for some time, but didn’t have a problem finding the net: 3-4

The match winning kick was put the other side of Gareth Deane: 3-5

A brave Rangers performance and although it was to be a lottery, I suppose Forest were the better side on the night and could of sealed the match in normal time. The next U18’s match is another cup game, when on Saturday they are scheduled to play Millwall away in the Youth Alliance Cup. Good luck to Steve Gallen and the team.

Steve Russell