Nottingham Forest and Walsall played out arguably one of the Capital One Cup’s finest matches as the Saddlers came out on top with a 4-3 win.
It extends Walsall’s fantastic unbeaten run over the former European Champions to twelve games, winning eight and drawing four.
Walsall’s dominance over Forest continues
There was much talk over whether Walsall manager Dean Smith would stick with his 3-5-2 formation but he reverted to a more familiar 4-3-3 which saw Tom Bradshaw feed off balls from the wings as Jason Demetriou and Rico Henry overlapped Keiron Morris and Milan Lalkovic, causing no end of problems for Forest, particularly in the first half as a Bradshaw brace saw the Saddlers 2-0 up inside 15 minutes and although Forest did get one back thanks to Tyler Walker, the son of former-Forest man Des Walker, Walsall hardly put a foot wrong.
At times, Walsall even looked comfortable against the Championship outfit – that was until Michail Antonio came on. The winger, who is rumoured with a move away, is certainly well thought of and his introduction with around 15 minutes to play seemed to wake the Nottingham Forest fans up, even when Sawyers, who had come on for the injured Adam Chambers, put Walsall 3-1 up and ended it as a contest – or so we thought.
Antonio was the only Forest player to really show that difference in class and his first goal to make it 3-2 was superb, showing off his physicality, yet wonderful ball control, as well as his perfect 25-yard strike to Premier League eyes watching on with interest.
Without Antonio in the side there’s no doubt really that Forest would have lost 3-1 rather than levelled it to 3-3 with one of the final kicks of the game – such is the presence of the wide man.
However the fun didn’t stop there as Kelvin Wilson was adjudged to have brought down Tom Bradshaw inside the box with seconds to go in injury time, the penalty decision may have been harsh although no Forest players seemed to question the decision.
Up stepped Tom Bradshaw to fire the Saddlers through to the second round whilst securing a first hattrick of his career – with plenty more to come no doubt.
The final whistle was blown soon after, marking the end of possibly the best match so far this season!
Walsall can now look forward to the second round where possible mouth-watering games against near neighbours Wolves, West Brom, Aston Villa or Birmingham City awaits.
As for Nottingham Forest, they’ll be licking their wounds today after the defeat coupled with being booed off. Dougie Freedman now needs to pick his boys up ahead of a game against one of the relegation favourites Rotherha United and although it’s too early to talk about the sack race – a defeat there could make him an early favourite for the boot.