- Jason Knight cancelled out Divock Origi’s early strike to make it 1-1 at half time
- The Championship side forced extra time and penalties but fell in the shootout
- A lap of honour for a win, apologising when you lose… When did it come to this? Listen to the It’s All Kicking Off podcast
Nottingham Forest scraped through to an FA Cup fifth round tie with Manchester United after beating Bristol City on penalties.
Goalkeeper Matt Turner was their hero, saving Sam Bell’s spot-kick, while all five of Forest’s kicks were perfect to offer a much-needed positive at the City Ground after a dismal few weeks.
Divock Origi gave Forest an early lead but they lacked the guile to put City to bed and after captain Jason Knight equalised the visitors more than held their own over 120 minutes.
On more than one occasion, it looked like City would add another top-flight scalp to West Ham from the third round.
Already deep in a relegation dogfight with the prospect of a points deduction looming over them, you sensed an FA Cup replay was the last thing Forest needed.
Nottingham Forest edged through the FA Cup fourth round by beating Bristol City on penalties
Taiwo Awoniyi netted the decisive spot-kick in the penalty shootout to break Robins’ hearts
Nuno Espirito Santo’s delighted side will now face Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round
With a crucial home game against Newcastle on Saturday the extra time was hardly welcome either but at least they got the desired result.
Nuno Espirito Santo made eight changes from the team that drew at Bournemouth on Sunday but most were enforced because of injuries, suspensions and ineligibility.
Nonetheless, Forest started on the front foot and Morgan Gibbs-White forced City keeper Max O’Leary into a sharp one-handed stop.
The hosts went in front from the resulting corner. Gibbs-White’s inswinger was glanced on by Felipe, who darted out of a crowd of players to the near post, and the goalhanging Origi allowed the ball to brush his body as he guided it home.
City’s defenders immediately appealed for handball against the scorer but VAR Michael Oliver saw no reason to disallow his goal.
If a full house at the City Ground though that a precursor to a rare comfortable night for Forest, they were sadly mistaken.
The visitors, languishing mid-table in the Championship, really had nothing to lose from a bit of adventure.
They levelled six minutes after going behind. Andy King – formerly a stalwart of Forest’s bitter rivals Leicester City – was allowed space to drive into and his 25-yard strike hit one post and bounced across to hit the other.
Matt Turner after crucially saving Sam Bell’s spot-kick for Bristol City in the penalty shootout
Bell cuts tearful and disappointed figure after Bristol City are eliminated from the competition
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Sam Bell retrieved the ball fastest and cut back for Knight, the ex-Derby County midfielder, to caress home. You can imagine that didn’t go down too well.
City continued to hold their own and Matt Turner pushed away Tommy Conway’s low effort, while shortly after the resumption Anis Mehmeti forced another stop.
The away fans, not used to VAR being a feature of their football watching, chanted enthusiastically in favour of it when Oliver considered a penalty shout, before quickly changing their tune when nothing was given.
The moans and groans in the home stands became more and more audible as Forest laboured, with Santo turning to Taiwo Awoniyi and Callum Hudson-Odoi from the bench just after the hour.
Forest roused themselves towards the end with Nuno Tavares forcing a good save from O’Leary with a powerful hit before Neco Williams shot wide after a quick counter.
Divock Origi (right) tapped home from close range to fire Nottingham Forest ahead early on
Jason Knight equalised in the 14th minute to send Bristol City and Forest in level at half time
They had all the urgency at the start of extra time as City tired. Youngster Joseph Gardner saw a shot blocked before Williams was denied by O’Leary at his near post.
But City still carried a threat and Mehmeti forced Turner into another save before Bell tested the keeper with a first-time volley.
In the second period of extra time, Nahki Wells ended up in the back of the net rather than the ball after Bell broke free to cross with Moussa Niakhate doing just enough to keep it out.