Despite the continued success of the first team under Dougie Freedman, the highlight of the week was the youth team’s FA Cup quarter final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Over four thousand people packed into the main stand to see if the young guns could blast their way into the semi finals, Spurs had knocked out Man United in the previous round and were installed as the favourites.
Forest lined up with a 4-4-2 formation which is obviously a world away from the first team, in years gone by there was a protocol at the club by which every age group had to employ the same formation as the first team. It was interesting to see how much of a difference the system would make.
The first half was a cagey affair with very few chances, Forest’s best opportunity came when the Spurs keeper Voss, spilled a throw, the ball hit his own defender before falling to Oliver Burke who snapped at the open goal and shot wide. Forest keeper Erlandsson was forced into a cracking save mid way through the half which was Tottenham’s best opportunity of the game so far.
It was interesting to see the highly rated Tyler Walker up front, but the game seemed to pass him by. He didn’t seem to impose himself in the way that Burke or Yates did, Burke showed just why he’s been included in the first team of late.
Right back Yates was fantastic, for me the man of the match as he won tackle after tackle and refused to be beaten. He bossed his winger and not only regained possession but then distributed the ball intelligently too.
After a goal-less first period you got the feeling that the nerves had passed and the nets would bulge, Spurs started brightly and began to run the show. Their midfield pair were excellent and it was from there that they eventually won the game. Defensively, the home side withstood waves of Tottenham attacks. The back line of Yates, Kelly, Crookes and Worrall looked very well drilled and organised.
However, the game was lost in five crazy minutes as the normally astute back line switched off and allowed the Londoners to score two quick goals by Walker-Peters and Azzaoui. Forest rallied and Thomas worked well down the left having replaced the injured Gamblen.
They did indeed pull a goal back following a great move down the right, a string of one touch passes was finished off in style by Matthew Cash. This set up a tense finale but Forest were always just a few yards behind Spurs, who hung on and deserved their victory.
It was great to see a varied style of play and more importantly what prospects we have coming through. Despite the defeat I saw plenty of positives, there are three or four of those lads who can make the first team squad. Ryan Yates, who is better known as a midfielder was outstanding at right back and I look forward to seeing him in First team action soon. One game alone isn’t enough to judge these lads but it has got people talking and maybe it will encourage more of us to get to the youth team games.
By Steve Corry