Rev James’ strike ensured Basford United continued their unbeaten pre-season run as they drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest u23s at Greenwich Avenue on Tuesday night.
The Reds took the lead on the quarter hour mark when the ball cannoned off Detlaf Esapa Osong past Adam Collin to lead at the break.
But 15 minutes from time, James seized on some tired defending to latch onto Kieran Preston’s forward pass to fire past Joe Watkins and secure a well-earned draw for the home side.
“It is probably the first game of our pre-season where we’ve not dominated the ball,” said United boss Steve Chettle.
“We have in the other three fixtures, which we do against a lot of teams, but against Forest we’ve had to ensure that our structure and our defensive units were intact, and they were.
“We worked out that they had two attempts on target, one of which was the goal which Adam (Collin) could do little about as it’s come at him so quick.
“But I thought it was an excellent game. We’ve had three games now against Reidy (Forest coach, Andy Reid) and his group and every one of them has been entertaining. I know it is only pre-season, but we’ve managed to get a draw on Tuesday and I really enjoyed it.
“I was pleased with our shape, pleased with our structure and it’s something we must continue working on throughout our pre-season and ahead of the season opener against Scarborough next month.”
Before the match, former Forest striker Garry Birtles was presented with a cheque of over £51,000 in aid of Treetops Hospice after the success of the Samantha Birtles Trophy event held at Basford last month.
And the City Ground favourite didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal when Brad Gascoigne’s clearance from a dangerous Ollie Hammond cross smashed off a surprised Esapa Osong and past Collin after only 15 minutes.
Matt Thornhill struck back with a deft free kick that flicked the top of the crossbar shortly after, before James Clifton’s rushed effort was cleared off the line by Rezart Rama as a cagey first half failed to match the sweltering heat at Greenwich Avenue.
Thornhill – another who spent time on Trentside – again went close just after the break when a fine passing move down the right saw his shot nestle in the side netting as Forest’s youth sat back.
Alex Howes then did well to round one of two away trialists before a cross-cum-shot around skipper Riley Harbottle went untouched across the face of the goal.
And the hosts’ pressure finally told when a fine angled ball from second half substitute Kieran Preston – on for Collin – split a napping Forest defence for James to race through and coolly slot past Watkins for a deserved equaliser.
“Our preparations for the season are stepping up nicely, but it’s not been ideal,” added Chettle.
“We lost Willow (Ryan Wilson) after a minute on Tuesday – we knew he had a problem but didn’t want to take any further chances. Stef Galinski and Dom Roma both have slight niggles, as does Callum (son, Chettle), but we’re still vying for minutes in the players’ tanks.
“Kane Richards managed to get through 90 minutes on Friday night against Corby as did Ryan. James Clifton and Rev played a full game last night and Owen Betts has now had 85 minutes in two successive games, so the minutes are building up, but we still have four games to go in pre-season and we have to stick to our plan.
“We’ve told all the players that if they feel anything throughout pre-season, we have to get them off and rested and we’ll replace them with the academy boys, who, again, I thought shone out and were a fine example of the Basford United academy.
“It’s really pleasing to know that we can rely on them. When the selection for the first game of the season comes round, we would still go with our senior players because they’re experienced and have been at this level for a while now.
“However, there’s no fear with these kids. Jordan (Haywood) comes on after a minute to replace Ryan; Ferdinand Bartley after half an hour, all before our planned changes, so it proves they can adapt. It gives us something to fall back on and that we’re happy with.”
United host their next two pre-season fixtures when Leek Town make the trip on Saturday, July 24, before Nigel Clough’s Mansfield Town side visit three days later.
Basford United (from): Adam Collin, James Clifton, Ryan Wilson, Declan Dun, Brad Gascoigne, Owen Betts, Matt Thornhill (c), Alex Howes, Marcus Marshall, Kane Richards, Rev James, Jordan Haywood, Niall Towle, Rory Harrison, Ferdinand Bartley, Kieran Preston, Nathanial Peters, Sam Newell, Kiarn Nyemba, Josh Timson
Nottingham Forest U23 (from): Nicky Hogarth, Rezart Rama, Riley Harbottle (c), Sam Sanders, Trialist, Trialist, Ollie Hammond, Josh Barnes, Jack Nadin, Alex Gibson-Hammond, Detlef Esapa Osong, Joe Watkins, Pharrell Johnson, Jamie McDonnell, Aaron Donnelly, Marcelo Valencia, Kyle McAdam
Venue: Greenwich Avenue (407)
*Article provided by Marc Williams (Basford United Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFC the young reds in blue on the front foot v Basford.