Mist rolling in... but young Nottingham Forest players edge to victory in FA Youth Cup match
THE senior team's cup exploits may be over for this season, but Nottingham Forest's next generation continue to progress in the FA Youth Cup.
Gary Brazil's side will now face Huddersfield in the fifth round after claiming a 2-1 win over Rochdale in freezing, foggy conditions at the City Ground.
The Reds did not have it all their own way against a Dale side that made them work hard.
Goals from Wilfried Gnahore and Aristote Kamaneno, along with some good character, were enough to secure victory – but had the visitors made more of some good chances, the result might have been different.
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There was a disjointed start to the game as Forest stormed into a 1-0 lead within a minute, but then found themselves penned inside their own half.
The opener came as Derrick Otim powered down the right before firing a low cross into the centre.
With the Rochdale defence struggling to clear, the ball was bundled over the line at close range, Gnahore appearing to get the vital touch.
But then, for ten minutes, it was Rochdale who piled on the pressure.
In fairness to Forest, their defence held firm, with only one real chance of note carved out by the visitors during their period of domination, a header from Joel Logan that the striker aimed straight at keeper Jordan Smith.
The Reds were beginning to get their passing game going on a pitch that was looking threadbare in patches. But they were still struggling to carve out further opportunities.
And it was Rochdale who should have pulled level when a driven shot from Logan was charged down by the keeper, but fell nicely for Daniel Whitehall, who fired wide of the target.
Jack Blake, a terrier like figure in Forest's midfield, was a little fortunate to escape a booking when he slid in with a rugged challenge on Logan.
An outstanding pass from Kieran Wallace looked to have sent Otim racing clear, but keeper Aaron Ashley saved bravely at his feet.
The Rochdale man was alert again after an angled run from full back Eurico Sebastiao took him sprinting into the box, where Ashley again made a well-timed claim at the player's feet.
Logan was the main threat for Rochdale and, after stealing possession from Sebastiao, he cut into the box and hit a shot that did not bend far wide.
Wallace was playing well for Forest and, following a well-composed attack, he beat two players on the edge of the box but shot narrowly over.
In the 35th minute, Forest doubled their advantage following a pacy counter attack. Gnahore carried the ball powerfully out of his own half before slotting Kamaneno through the offside trap. The winger made no mistake, showing good composure to beat the advancing keeper at his near post.
The goal injected Forest with fresh confidence and after a good break and shot from the rampant Gnahore was saved by Ashley, Blake lifted the rebound over the bar at full stretch.
The second half began with another bright spell from Rochdale, but Kamaneno was lucky to escape with a yellow card after appearing to swing a punch at D'Arcy O'Connor.
Wallace was then unfortunate not to carve out a goal with a brilliant turn inside the box, followed by a driven cross-shot that was cleared off the line.
The visitors threw on an extra forward and were rewarded with 12 minutes to go when Camps bundled home after Forest had twice cleared off the line.
Logan also had a late effort beaten out, but Forest were able to doggedly hang on for the win.
Forest: Smith, Sebastiao (Thomas 67), Fenton, Blake, Gorman, Ackroyd, Hollingsworth, Wallace, Otim (Ferrier 73), Gnahore, Kamaneno. Subs: Durrant, Mulraney, Palmer-Samuels.
Rochdale: Ashley, Antoine-Clarke, Tanser, Allen, O'Connor, Hill (Masirika 76), Camps, Cannon, Whitehall, Logan, Martin (Horan 85). Subs: Musalga, Wilkinson, Bell.