How Portsmouth player that got away inspired Arsenal's shock FA Cup exit at hands of Nottingham Forest

He’s the Pompey player who got away – and was the scourge of Arsenal on Sunday after inspiring their FA Cup elimination.

Monday, 10th January 2022, 11:30 am

Certainly the reputation of Ryan Yates continues to soar with Nottingham Forest, three years after the collapse of a Fratton Park loan move.

It was the midfielder’s wonderful right-wing cross which was converted by substitute Lewis Grabban for an 83rd-minute winner to knock out Arsenal for a third-round upset.

The 24-year-old has started all but two of ninth-placed Forest’s Championship games this term.

Yet in January 2019, Yates had been lined-up to replace Ben Thompson at the table-topping Blues.

Without a first-team Championship appearance for Forest at the time, Yates was heading to the south coast for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

The promising youngster had already featured in spells at Barrow, Shrewsbury, Notts County and Scunthorpe – now he was set for a Pompey loan.

The appointment of Jake Wigley as first-team coach with the Blues helped pave the way for the switch, having overseen Yates in Forest’s under-21s and below.

Ryan Yates was set for a Pompey loan spell in January 2019, only for it to fall through after sudden promotion to Nottingham Forest's first-team. He has since made 106 appearances. Picture: James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Crucially, however, the player was named on the bench in a Championship encounter with Leeds on New Year’s Day.

Although unused, effectively it killed the move. With Yates’ new-found first-team involvement at the City Ground, the loan was shelved.

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Blues boss Kenny Jackett, who had already signed Andy Cannon from Rochdale, had to look elsewhere to strengthen his midfield, particularly as the impressive Thompson had been recalled by Millwall.

Ryan Yates challenges Arsenal's Albert Sambi Lokonga in Forest's FA Cup upset over Premier League Arsenal. Yates created Lewis Grabban's 83rd-minute winner. Picture: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Bryn Morris instead arrived at Fratton Park for an undisclosed fee from Shrewsbury, following an eye-catching loan spell at fellow League One side Wycombe.

In the final days of that January transfer window, the promotion challengers sealed loan deals for Omar Bogle, Lloyd Isgrove, James Vaughan and Viv Solomon-Otabor.

Despite topping the table heading into that month, they finished fourth in League One, before losing to Sunderland in the play-off semi-finals.

As for Yates, two weeks into that January he was handed his Championship debut for Forest, coming off the bench at Reading to feature.

That season he totalled 16 league appearances, of which 15 of them were starts, as he announced his entrance in style.

Before that breakthrough, he’d been handed just one first-team outing – a Checkatrade Trophy penalty shoot-out win over Bury.

Now aged 24, Yates has gone on to appear 106 times for Forest, netting eight times, to impressively establish himself.

And on Sunday afternoon, he provided the inspiration to topple Arsenal from the competition they last won in August 2020.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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