Late Watford strike all but ends Nottingham Forest’s Under-23s hopes of a play-off place

An 11th draw of the season all but ended Nottingham Forest’s hopes of earning a place in the play-offs, with Watford grabbing a late equaliser. In a game of few clear-cut chances, it was the Reds who carved out the better ones and took the lead in the 68th minute courtesy of birthday boy Virgil Gomis, a goal which kept their hopes alive of going into the final two games of the Professional Development League campaign. Watford, who still have hopes themselves of making the final end of season knockout stage, scored with 11 minutes left to earn a point and dash the hopes of Gareth Holmes’ brave youngsters. In what was a quiet opening, with both sides feeling each other out, it was Forest who were first to threaten. Good hustling in the middle of the park from Smith enabled Gomis to race away, before being sent wide, he pulled it back for Edser who wasted a good chance to put a ball into the box. 




Virgil Gomis celebrates with Alex Iacovitti
 (Image: Dan Westwell)
What that did do was give the Reds a little more confidence and they started to play more in Watford’s half, and the extra impetus saw them fashion another chance moments later. Gomis picked up the ball inside the box and as he tore towards goal, he fired a decent effort straight down the throat of Sam Howes in the Hornet’s goal. Gomis then combined nicely with captain Edser inside the box, crossing for Edser to fire sharply at Howe’s near post, but the stopper turned the ball around the post. Forest continued to play their quick one-touch football in the middle of the park, with Otim and Jake Taylor pulling the strings. Watford, by this point, were struggling to get out of their own half and the Reds’ quick football saw the home side win a free-kick just a yard or two outside the box, albeit on the right-hand edge. With Smith and Edser hovering over it with some intent, it was Edser who shot for goal and it was going in until Howes tipped it over the top. One of the heroes from Friday’s composed win at Birmingham was Arvin Appiah and he was next to test the visitor’s backline, exchanging passes with Edser inside the D before firing wide of Howe’s left-hand post. 




Liam Bossin makes a great save to deny Ryan Cassidy
 (Image: Dan Westwell)
The home side continued to press forward looking for the all-important goal which would keep them in touch with the play-off zone, though it was Watford who struck a warning shot firmly across the bows of Holmes’ men. Dion Periera picked up the ball wide on the left, getting himself into the box and testing the reactions of Liam Bossin, who was alert to the test. The Hornets, who themselves still have desires of grabbing a place in the play-off spots in the southern division, were passive as an attacking force, but kept Adam Crookes and Joe Coveney honest in the centre of the Reds’ back four. Appiah, who so often looked the most likely source of creativity for Forest, almost fashioned an opening at the start of the second period. His clever run to the byline saw him create a yard of space to fizz a ball across Howes, which the stopper beat away with some force. Despite Forest spending the majority of the night on the front, it was the Hornets who came close to opening the scoring. 




Forest players react to the late equaliser
 (Image: Dan Westwell)
Watford caught Forest on the counter-attack, Pereira broke down the right, he cut it across to Stewart just outside the box and from nowhere, Crookes dived in to block what may well have been a key moment, and so it proved. It took more than an hour before the Reds broke the deadlock. Smith picked out Gomis inside the box with a lovely weighted pass which took out Charles and the striker ran confidently onto it, taking it past the on-rushing Howes to slot into the empty net. Watford, though, were not content to allow the Reds three points with such ease. Substitute Reece Miller latched onto a long ball over the top to slot past Bossin, who then had to be alert to keep it at 1-1, saving well from Ryan Cassidy. Forest: Bossin, Coveney (Preston 87), Crookes, Ahmedhodzic, Iacovitti, Otim (Johnson 65), Taylor, Edser (C), Smith, Appiah, Gomis (En-Neyah 75). Subs not used: Richardson, Soloha (GK) Goals: Gomis: 68 Watford: Howes (C) Leighton, Rogers, Charles (Miller 72), Ryan (Stray 59), Mukena, Sesay, Stewart, Cassidy, Pereira, Gordon. Subs not used: Mullings, Hoskins, Adebiyi, Miller 79 Attendance: 103........

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