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Friday, March 1, 2024

Matt Turner the shoot-out hero as Nottingham Forest taken all the way by Bristol City

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Matt Turner roars in delight after saving Sam Bell’s penalty in the shoot-out at City Ground – Action Images/Craig BroughNuno Espirito Santo’s antipathy towards FA Cup replays will have cranked up another level after Nottingham Forest were forced to go the distance.Yet there was an unlikely hero in Forest goalkeeper Matt Turner, who produced the pivotal save from Bristol City’s Sam Bell in the shoot-out.Turner has been ruthlessly displaced by new signing Matz Sels after a string of poor displays but his save secured Forest a fifth-round date with Manchester United.Bristol City fought valiantly over 210 minutes of football, coming agonisingly close to winning the tie twice in extra-time.Taiwo Awoniyi put away the final penalty but this was far from the outcome Nuno wanted for his depleted squad.Fourteenth in the Championship, Bristol City’s league performances have dropped off in recent weeks but they did embarrass David Moyes’ West Ham in the previous round.Under their highly regarded head coach Liam Manning, City were aiming to eliminate more than one top-flight opponent in the same FA Cup campaign for the first time since 1919-20.Forest’s start to the year has also been challenging. Without a win in the league so far in 2024, their season was turned upside down last month by the Premier League’s charge for an alleged breach of financial rules.Nuno Espirito Santo’s problems have also increased with an alarming shortage of player availability.Taiwo Awoniyi has only just returned from a groin injury but Chris Wood, the leading scorer, is now out for up to eight weeks after tearing a hamstring.Forest were also without the suspended Ryan Yates and Nicolás Domínguez, while new signings Matz Sels, Gio Reyna and Rodrigo Riberio were ineligible.Ibrahim Sangaré, Willy Boly (both Ivory Coast) and Ola Aina (Nigeria) were away at the Africa Cup of Nations.It ensured a rare start up front for Divock Origi, the AC Milan loanee, whose own future has been uncertain amid interest from a number of Major League Soccer clubs in the United States.Yet it was the former Liverpool forward who provided the crucial touch for the opening goal in the eighth minute. Morgan Gibbs-White’s corner was headed towards goal by Felipe and Origi reacted quickly to convert from close range.Any hopes Nuno may have harboured of a comfortable night disappeared five minutes later. Andy King’s 20-yard shot came back off both posts after a messy save from Turner and after the home defence failed to clear Jason Knight fired home from inside the area.The visitors were growing in confidence, exploiting Forest’s weaknesses. Turner was required to save from Tommy Conway and the travelling City fans were sensing an upset.City finished the stronger and in the 110th minute Nakhi Wells could not provide the final touch from a few yards out.Harry Cornick, the substitute, then lifted his shot over the bar with two minutes left.

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