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FA Cup Quarter Final, 1988: Arsenal 1-2 Nottingham Forest

After rummaging around the archives, we stumbled across previously unreleased minute by minute coverage of this epic and memorable FA Cup Quarter Final tie from 1988 between Arsenal and Nottingham Forest.

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Preamble:

It’s cold here in North London for this FA Cup Quarter Final tie. Arsenal will be confident of seeing off Brian Clough’s men after their hard-fought victory over Manchester United in the last round. Forest once again check the tyre pressure, water level and oil of the coach since they are still without a home draw. Travels to Halifax, Leyton Orient and Birmingham mean that the coach driver has been working overtime throughout this FA Cup run.

Forest are enjoying a strong season and look like they are in with a good shout of achieving 3rd place while Arsenal are spluttering and stuttering: not quite achieving the consistency required for a sustained title challenge, despite the nucleus of an excellent side developing under George Graham.

As we all know, the FA Cup is the only major trophy to elude Brian Clough thus far but he has a bright young thing of a team emerging these days and it’ll be interesting to see how they fare against an expectant crowd of 50,000 fans. Nonetheless, Forest’s Boxing Day win here 2-0 will give them hope of reaching a first FA Cup semi final since 1967.

The teams are on the pitch so let’s get going.

Arsenal line up like this:

John Lukic

Kenny Sansom

Tony Adams

David O'Leary

Nigel Winterburn

Kevin Richardson

Martin Hayes

David Rocastle

Michael Thomas

Perry Groves

Alan Smith

Subs:

Paul Davis

Niall Quinn

There's a bit of a delay in getting the Forest team sheet to the press box but it probably looks something like this:

Steve Sutton

Gary Fleming

Stuart Pearce

Steve Chettle

Des Walker

Neil Webb

Terry Wilson

Nigel Clough

Gary Crosby

Brian Rice

Paul Wilkinson

Subs:

Steve Chettle

Calvin Plummer

10: After good work by Nigel Clough, Forest work the ball forward releasing Brian Rice to run at Nigel Winterburn. The Arsenal defender stands his ground as Rice looks to go past him, bundling him to the ground on the edge of the penalty area. Free kick to Forest.

11: A nicely worked free kick. Clough taps the ball to Pearce for him to aim a low, hard shot towards the goal, bouncing malevolently in front of John Lukic, who briefly spills it before recovering. Alan Smith thwacks the ball away to safety. The Arsenal defence is wobbling here – a bit like a weeble, if you will.

43: GOALLLLLL! Paul Wilkinson, sporting as neat a moustache you are ever likely to see, nods on a long punt from the back. Clough delightfully holds the ball up and rolls it to back to Wilkinson who smashes it in. Lukic never stood a chance. The rangy Forest striker will never hit a football sweeter than that even if he plays until The Second Coming. Forest have played with intent and purpose so far and deserve their lead. George Graham looks pensive. Actually, so does Brian Clough too as he steps back into the garden conservatory masquerading as a dug out.

Second Half

52: Ooooh. How are Arsenal not two down? Steve Chettle launches one from the back and Tony Adams makes a right old hash of his clearance, only succeeding in meekly nodding the ball down to Wilkinson who carefully lobs the ball over Adams to put Gary Crosby clean through on goal. Adams stands still, arm aloft claiming offside in the way that he does.  Meanwhile, Crosby is lining up a finish but takes too long, allowing Winterburn to slide in and steal the ball from him. The ball ends up at the feet of Wilkinson who screws his shot inches wide of the far post. An excellent recovery from Winterburn but Forest really should have doubled their advantage.

64: GOALLLL! Oh you have to say that’s magnificent. Nigel Clough turns exquisitely in midfield and springs open the offside trap to send Brian Rice scampering through. He and Lukic stare at each other for about the length of the Jurassic era until Lukic blinks first and Rice scoops it over him. Rice LOVED that as much as the Forest fans on the Clock End terracing. On the sideline, Clough Snr again briefly jumps out of his conservatory – maybe it’s his time? George Graham, having come down to his conservatory from his earlier seat in the stand, still looks pensive.

87: Clough looks nervous on the bench as Arsenal pour forward and maintain the pressure. Ah. Stuart Pearce just utterly cleaned Alan Smith out as he looked to forage wide and get a cross in. He’ll be lucky to avoid a yellow card for that. The home side has an opportunity to whip in a cross from near the corner flag. That was a little rash from Pearce – he’ll have to learn to control his aggression if he’s to play make his debut for England. Unless he does, he can only dream about getting 78 caps for his country. Such petulance will need to be controlled if he wants to make is in this game.

88: Goal! Arsenal draw level. Paul Davis whips in the free kick, from which Niall Quinn strikes the bar with a thunderous header. It seems that Steve Sutton tipped it on to the bar since a corner has been awarded. Either that or the referee is incredibly biased.  From the resulting Kevin Richardson corner, a scramble ensues and David Rocastle pops the ball into the net in front of the North Bank. As scruffy goal as you are likely to see but no matter, Arsenal have a chance of retrieving this tie. Brian Clough strokes his chin nervously.

89: How did that stay out?! Richardson swings one in. The ball ping pongs around the Forest penalty area until Paul Davis nods across goal – all Alan Smith has to do is make contact but he only succeeds in poking the goal harmlessly away from goal with his toe. Remarkable.

90: Forest are hanging on now as another corner comes in but Pearce eventually clears.

91: Peep! No matter. It's over! What a game. George Graham. Tony Adams. Alan Davies. John Jensen. Piers Morgan. Spike Lee. Mo Farah. Dido. Have some of THAT!