A classic FA Cup setting staged a tale to match at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium yesterday as a part-time lifeguard rescued a replay for non-League Salisbury City.
Matt Tubbs' 60th-minute equaliser was no less than the club from the Conference South deserved as they bridged the gulf between them and the former European Cup winners and managed for the first time to avoid defeat against Football League opposition. Nottingham Forest may have fallen a long way from those glory days, but, as League One leaders, they still represented formidable opposition. Thus when Nathan Tyson put Forest ahead after 26 minutes progress seemed assured. But Salisbury never surrendered and Tubbs' neat strike earned them a replay at the City Ground on Tuesday week, and, potentially, a first-ever appearance in the third round, against Charlton.
The 22-year-old Tubbs is no stranger to drama. In his other job, at a leisure centre in Fordingbridge, he saved a young girl who got into difficulties in the pool. The former Bolton Wanderers trainee retains ambitions of a return to full-time football and yesterday's display will have done his chances no harm. "That's what he does," said Nick Holmes, the former FA Cup winner now managing Salisbury. "Unfortunately for us a lot more people will know about him now."
Not that Salisbury were a one-man team. There were excellent performances all over the pitch especially from the goalkeeper Ryan Clarke, who made several fine saves.
It was clear that Forest would be in for a testing afternoon when several players tip-toed through the mud at the entrance to the tunnel to undertake their warm-up. Such was the local enthusiasm, one ticketless man spent the entire match standing in the adjacent field with his son on his shoulders peering over the fence at the play. Forest put the ball into that field three times in the opening half-hour as they struggled to adapt to a strong wind.
Then John Curtis, the former England youth team captain, forced Clarke to tip over his 20-yard shot. From the subsequent corner Tyson, a £675,000 signing, scored from a tight angle.
"We'd played well without creating any real chances," said Holmes, "so at half-time we gave them a bit more self-belief and told them to take the game to Forest." They did and within a minute of the resumption Nicky Southall headed Wayne Turk's drive off the line. Yet Clarke was required to deny James Perch and Tyson before Salisbury equalised. Jon Bass's deep cross was headed back across goal, Matt Holmes (Nicky's son) bravely won the ball and Tubbs turned smartly to level.
Each side had chances to win, but both managers settled for the draw. "After their goal I wanted the clock to run down as quickly as possible," admitted Colin Calderwood, Forest's manager.
Goals: Tyson (26) 0-1; Tubbs (60) 1-1.
Salisbury City (4-4-2): Clarke; Bass, Bond, Cook, Browne (Middleston, 88); Clay, Turk, Holmes, Prince; Sales (Matthews, 61), Tubbs (McGregor, 83). Substitutes not used: Haddow, Bulman (gk).
Nottingham Forest (3-4-3): Pedersen; Morgan, Cullip, Breckin; Southall, Perch, Gary Holt, Curtis; Commons, Tyson (Dobie, 76), Grant Holt (Harris, 65). Substitutes not used: Lester, Bennett, Gamble (gk).
Referee: A D'Urso (Billericay).
Booked: Salisbury City Browne, Cook, Matthews; Forest Southall, Breckin.
Man of the match: Clarke.
Attendance: 3,100.Reuse content