Forest step in to fill Oxford gap

Nottingham Forest have stepped in at last-minute to fill the gap left in our pre-season calendar by an ungracious cancellation by Oxford United.

Oxford pulled out despite our match having been arranged for a while, and it has been left to our neighbours Forest to plug the gap. They’re sending the under 23 side to Sincil Bank to ensure we get the valuable minutes into our players ahead of the new season.

Traditionally Forest were always our local ‘big’ club, but they’ve fallen on hard times recently. They’ve never been shy at sending a team to play in a friendly though, one of my earliest pre-season friendlies was against Brian Clough’s Forest immediately after we won the GMVC in 1988. It is perhaps prophetic that they should fill a gap in the year we also win the National League.

It may be the under 23s, but as we’ll find out the landscape has changed since we’ve been away. Under 23 sides are very much in fashion, replacing the traditional reserve sides of old. Whilst some believe they will eventually seep into the league structure, destroying football as we know it, others welcome the challenge the games bring. One real bonus to seeing the Forest kids in action is Danny getting a chance to look at players that he may be able to coax to City on a loan deal.

One player we are likely to see line up for Forest is goalkeeper Liam Bossin, a player recently signed from Anderlecht. He’s a 21-year-old who has spent his career in the Belgian leagues, but has recently signed a two-year deal at The City Ground after his contract expired at Anderlecht. Forest have high hopes for him, and he’ll be happy that Oxford rudely dropped our game at short notice.

Young defender Joe Coveney is another new face at the City Ground, he’s recently joined from Manchester City. He’s just 18-year-old, and is most comfortable when playing at the heart of the back four. During his time at the Etihad he became known for his slick passing and calmness under pressure. He helped City to win the Under 18 Premier League North trophy last season, and is rated as a top prospect at Forest.

Forest under 23s celebrate the news that they’ll get to appear at the mecca of football that is Sincil Bank

Who else can we expect to see? Tyler Walker is a man who is looking to follow in his fathers footsteps and become a Forest legend. He’ll be incredibly fortunate if he becomes as well-known as his Dad, Des. He’s a proud product of the Forest youth system, and he stepped up to the under 21s with ease, announcing his arrival by scoring seven goals in just 13 starts. Those performances led to him being handed his first-team debut by Dougie Freedman against Rotherham in March. He even bagged a first team goal on April 6th against Brentford.

Midfielder Ryan Yates is one whom we could feasibly see at City, if the circumstances were right. He got his first taste of senior action during the 2016-17 campaign as he went on loan, firstly to Barrow where he played against us, and latterly in the Football League with Shrewsbury. In particular he impressed at Shrewsbury, and was a pivotal part of the side which avoided relegation from League One.

So it may be Forest’s ‘kids’, but they’ll offer a stern test for the Imps as we look to get match fit ready for the big kick off. Who knows with the combination of talent and a desire to impress, perhaps they’ll offer more of a challenge than the Oxford side that have chosen to have a night off with their feet up? Whilst some fans of the game are against under 23 side competing in the EFL Trophy, I’m sure most will be grateful that our neighbours stepped in to patch up the hole that unceremoniously opened up in our calendar.

I’m bloody grateful, I’m tied up for the next two Saturdays, and therefore thanks to Forest I’ll actually get to see the Imps in pre-season action before the new season starts. Cheers Forest, most appreciated.

Some stuff from the club about the friendly is below, you know the official sort of stuff you might need to know.

Admission prices:

Adults: £10
Concessions 60+: £5
Students: £5
Juniors U18: £2

SRP VIP Lounge tickets, meanwhile, will be priced at £15 for 2017/18 members and £20 for non-members.

For this fixture a limited number of tickets for certain blocks of the stadium will be made available online. Pay on the gate will also be available.

Please also note that Season Ticket holders will be unable to reserve their seat and the Junior Imps scheme will not be in operation for pre-season friendlies.


You can subscribe to the new Lincoln football magazine, ‘A City United’ on the site. You’ll find the subscription offers here in my all-new Stacey West shop.

Thank you to those that have already subscribed, uptake has been good and I’m really excited about the venture. Tomorrow I’ll be putting up single issue ordering too, so you can try before committing to a full subscription. Not that you need to, you know it’ll be bloody brilliant.