Curtis pen 54
Nottingham Forest 0
Second Division Chesterfield, having not appeared in the fifth round for 47 years, yesterday gloried in making their own FA Cup history by going one better and reaching the last eight for the first time. And it was by no means relevant to their achievement that a wan Nottingham Forest had their goalkeeper, Mark Crossley, sent off in the second half and that victory came through a penalty. They won because of their own ambition, good defensive organisation and willingness to punish Forest for match-long timidity and a moment of recklessness.
John Duncan, the Chesterfield manager, admitted: "Nobody in their right mind would have expected us to win this one. We didn't even have a game plan until Thursday. Because of injuries I had to ask Jamie Hewitt, Paul Holland and Chris Beaumont to play out of position." You would never have guessed. Stuart Pearce, the Forest manager, merely sent out a message from a sorrowful dressing-room to say: "We failed to play to a system - they battled harder than we did." The man of few words could say that again.
Deep down Forest must have thought that an awful lot of teams had confronted the paradox of relegation and a Wembley appearance in the same season. They no longer have that "double" to worry about.
Admittedly it was not a match in which their player-manager could play his usual forceful part. He was suspended and badly missed. Not that Chesterfield were without their absentees. Their Player of the Month, Sean Dyche, missed out with a hamstring injury. "Doubt if I'll get back in," he said afterwards.
Above all Chesterfield wanted to elevate what hopes they had by giving the teenager Kevin Davies plenty of the ball. His three goals had destroyed Bolton in the previous round and here he quickly caused Forest similar problems, strongly bursting through tackles on angled runs from the right touchline, relishing unexpected shooting chances and holding the ball valuably.
Davies was also the creator of a surprising number of opportunities for others. An early neat turn, quick centre and he was sure that Jon Howard would head in from within the goal area, but Crossley blocked him.
Forest were uncomfortable from the beginning to the end. The home crowd raised the old corrugated iron roofs and swelled with optimism as Dean Saunders dashed into blind channels or a well defended Chesterfield area that even Kevin Campbell's strength failed to penetrate. Only a brave interception by Des Lyttle, as Howard broke into the Forest penalty area just after half-time, denied Chesterfield a lead that would have been justified. That it eventually came through a penalty was no less warranted.
Eight minutes after an impatiently endured interval, the home crowd saw a cutting through-pass from Beaumont leave Howard on a clear run into the penalty area. Crossley sprinted out and rashly clattered into his feet. Referee David Elleray instantly gave the penalty and dismissed Crossley. Tom Curtis cracked in the winner and within two minutes Darren Carr was welcoming Forest's deputy goalkeeper, Alan Fettis, with a header on to the crossbar that clearly unnerved him.
Forest's already weakened defence now verged on frailty, which encouraged Davies and Andy Morris to attack them with all of their patient power. Meanwhile, Forest remained outnumbered at the front and towards the end ineffectively added Scot Gemmill to bolster their fading hopes.
Far from satisfied, Chesterfield continued to punish Forest for their indiscretion and lack of serious attacking fire. They should have removed the last thread of doubt when Howard was left with only Fettis to avoid but stumbled at the last moment.
The ball struck the troubled goalkeeper and Steven Blatherwick was able to clear the danger, but by no means save Forest's embarrassment.Reuse content