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Nottingham Forest have the edge in FA Cup replay

| 04.02.2014

The FA Cup has been short on shocks so far, but we were close to a turn-up when League One side Preston North End held Championship outfit Nottingham Forest to a goalless draw at the City Ground.

So can the Lilywhites finish the job at Deepdale on Wednesday night? It’s going to be tight according to Coral – 2/1 Preston, 13/10 Forest, 12/5 the draw after 90 minutes – and it’s not a result to call with any great confidence.

Both have been in excellent form over the winter months; Preston have lost just two of their last 22 games in all competitions, while Forest are unbeaten in their last 13.

And both consequently have very similar chances of promotion from their respective divisions. Fifth-placed Forest are 20/1 to win the Championship title and 2/1 to gain promotion, while fourth-placed Preston are also 20/1 to finish top of League One and 11/5 to go up.

In atrocious conditions, Preston more than held their own in the first game, an impressive defensive effort considering that Forest had walloped West Ham 5-0 in the previous round and have since scored 11 goals in three home league fixtures.

But it’s up front where the Lancashire club needs to improve – Brentford, Wolves and Leyton Orient, the three teams above them, have all been far more prolific in front of goal.

What Preston have lacked is the firepower up front to turn some of their numerous draws into victories. Craig Davies, a deadline-day loan signing from Bolton, scored on his debut last weekend and will be a huge help in their promotion push, but he’s Cup-tied.

Forest definitely do know how to score at the moment. They were particularly impressive when coming from 2-0 down to beat Watford 4-2 recently (copying exactly what Manchester City had done to the unfortunate Hornets in the Cup just five days earlier).

Then last weekend they put three past Yeovil, including a late debut strike from transfer window Olympiakos signing Rafik Djebbour.

Though both clubs have won the FA Cup in the dim and distant past, neither are being taken seriously as prospective competition winners this time around – Forest are 66/1 and Preston joint outsiders at 150/1.

But both Simon Grayson and Billy Davies appreciate what a good Cup run can do for the players and fans and we may well be in for a really entertaining and hard fought replay.

Preston have good reason to be confident back on their own patch after doing so well in the first tie, but Forest probably just had a bit of an off-day in the pouring rain and with Davies again likely to field a strong side, I fancy they will put matters right this time, although probably only by the odd goal.

Coral go 15/2 Forest nick it 1-0, 17/2 it finishes 1-2 and 28/1 we have a real cracker and it ends 2-3.




Jon Freeman