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Blondel's strike lights up Forest

FA Premier Reserve League South

Jonathan Blondel's wonderful strike earned our reserves a much-deserved point at the City Ground on Monday night.

The Belgian international showed sublime technique to volley home Diego Bortolozzo's pinpoint corner just inside the post from 20 yards.

In was no less than Blondel or his team-mates deserved after weathering the expected early storm from the home side to dominate possession for long periods, particularly either side of half-time.

The 18-year-old put on a classy show full of confident passing and clever angles from a floating position just behind the front two. Always bright, always available, he was the catalyst for another fine display from Colin Calderwood's young side.

It could have been even better for Blondel as well. Only he will know how he didn't double his personal and team tally in the second half when he and Sergei Rebrov robbed defender John Thompson on the edge of the box, Blondel nipped around goalkeeper Pascal Formann only to slide the ball wide of the empty net.

Nevertheless, there were few negatives on the night. Steffen Freund came through 65 minutes untroubled, Lee Barnard buzzed around Forest's back four all night and Lars Hirschfeld delivered when called upon. We were also sound at the back with a defense comprising of players who could still play for our Academy Under-19s.

The first of the Canadian's hat-trick of fine saves came in the seventh minute as he spectacularly tipped over Mickael Antoine-Curier's drive.

That was the highlight of a tentative opening period from both sides with Forest edging possession as we gradually found our feet.

Blondel's opener came after 29 minutes and was a beauty. Barnard's persistence won the corner, Bortolozzo picked out Blondel on the edge of the box and the youngster volleyed through the crowd into the bottom corner.

Forest levelled nine minutes later. We lost possession in midfield, Cash found Reid and his cross was headed home from close range by Antoine-Curier.

Hirschfeld provided the save of the game just before the break, showing sharp reactions to flick over Lester's powerful shot from 10 yards.

We bossed the game at the start of the second half, Blondel's miss came nine minutes in and as our passing zipped around, we created a handful of half-chances.

Freund was inches away from his first competitive goal for Spurs with a drive just over, Bortolozzo didn't quite get enough on an overhead kick to trouble Formann but the keeper's hands must have been stung by Barnard's fierce drive that he did well to beat away.

But Forest, with the combination of Lester, Antoine-Curier and Westcarr always lively, remained a threat.

Hirschfeld was called into action again after 69 minutes, tipping Westcarr's stooping header over and Lester was unlucky to see his clever lob in a crowded box bounce back to safety off the crossbar.

We pushed for the winner right until the end with Barnard inches away from Sutton's tempting cross in the final minute.

Line-ups: Forest: Roche (Formann, 46), Thompson, Robertson, Haskins, Hjelde (Biggins, 46), Doig, Cash, Lester, Westcarr, Antoine-Curier (Bodkin, 85), Reid. Unused subs: Foy, Vaughan.

Spurs: Hirschfeld, Hughes, S Kelly, O'Donoghue, Galbraith, Freund (Bowditch, 65), Bortolozzo (Marney, 65), Ricketts, Blondel, Rebrov (Sutton, 70), Barnard. Unused subs: Jalal, Snee.