Football / FA Cup: Forest reprieved by Webb's strike

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Nottingham Forest. . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Middlesbrough. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

FOREST had enough chances to have won with something in hand, but converted only one, and Middlesbrough, who worked tirelessly, will be favourites in the fourth-round replay at Ayresome Park on Wednesday week. Indeed, as Forest flagged in the final 15 minutes, Middlesbrough might have pinched victory yesterday.

Paul Wilkinson, once a Forest player, had been a source of worry to the home defence whenever the ball was crossed high, and Mark Crossley was required to make a splendid one-handed save to deny the central striker a headed winner with eight minutes left.

Defeat, however, would have been hard on Forest, who punched numerous holes in Middlesbrough's makeshift defence and might have clocked up half-a- dozen goals. That they failed to do so was largely down to a string of excellent stops by Stephen Pears, although Forest's finishing was sometimes found wanting too.

Most of Pears' best work was done in the second half, as Forest threw everything at him. He stopped Gary Bannister twice, brilliantly tipped over the bar from Nigel Clough and then, in the last minute, saved from Ian Woan and Roy Keane at close range.

The arrival of Neil Webb on the hour to convert Woan's left-wing cross with a diving far-post header was greeted with much relief by the home crowd, who were becoming increasingly frustrated as events unfolded in a manner all too familiar to them.

On the other hand, Middlesbrough, effectively missing half a team because of injury, suspension or ineligibility, could be pleased with themselves. Chris Morris and Nicky Mohan, their emergency central defenders, held their ground well. Before their second-half onslaught, Forest threatened seriously only when Stuart Pearce was marauding forward. Twice the England captain's loping strides carried him into direct confrontation with Pears in the first half, and a goal should have resulted on both occasions.

Instead, Middlesbrough went ahead two minutes before the break. Encouraged when one Wilkinson header beat everyone but Brian Laws on the goal-line, they made the aerial route of attack pay off when Willie Falconer, hero of their third-round win over Chelsea, met John Hendrie's corner with a powerful header which Crossley, in two attempts to save, could not keep from crossing the line.

Nottingham Forest: M Crossley; B Laws, S Pearce, S Chettle, C Tiler, R Keane, G Bannister, S Gemmill, N Clough, N Webb, I Woan. Subs not used: T Orlygsson, G Crosby. Manager: B Clough.

Middlesbrough: S Pears; C Fleming, J Phillips, C Morris, N Mohan, W Falconer, T Wright, J Pollock, P Wilkinson, A Peake, J Hendrie. Subs not used: G Kavanagh, G Parkinson. Manager: L Lawrence.

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).

Goals: Falconer (0-1, 43 min); Webb (1-1, 59 min).