Nottingham Forest took a 2-1 lead in their play-off with Sheffield United thanks to Premier League-linked starlet Brennan Johnson.
The 20-year-old, who looks certain to be in the top flight next season amid links with Leeds, Newcastle and Brentford, scored the game’s second goal to give Steve Cooper’s side a real advantage after Jack Colback’s opener inside the first 10 minutes.
The Blades had their own chances and were the dominant team at the start of both halves, and earned their reward with an injury goal from Jack Robinson to tie the game ahead of Tuesday’s return leg at the City Ground.
It was a spirited start to the game as Ryan Yates played a magnificent through ball to Forest star Johnson who forced an awkward clearance from Chris Basham within four minutes.
As the Blades settled into the game, the opener came five minutes later as Sam Surridge pressed a cross into the penalty area which Colback converted after an unfortunate slip from Ben Osborne.
Forest smelled of blood as they continued to flood Surridge, with Philip Zinckernagel and Johnson all having the chance to double their lead in the first quarter of the game.
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Both sides advanced in what was a truly entertaining first half at Bramall Lane, but it was Forest who scored Sheffield United’s goal in the final 10 minutes of half-time, forcing Wes Foderingham into a spectacular double stoppage at the end of the half.
Going into the break, talkSPORT co-commentator Chris Iwelumo bewildered that Cooper’s side weren’t further ahead at the break.
He said: “Nottinham Forest could have had two or three more goals. They had huge chances.
“There’s a lot of football to play, but Steve Cooper has to keep it going.”
Although the Blades were certainly not outclassed in the first half, they managed to improve their game in the second half, they caused problems for Forest with five efforts in the first 15 minutes of the half.
However, Forest managed to double their lead around 70 minutes when Joe Lolley fired it past Johnson who slammed the ball into the top corner of the net to make it 2-0.
That effort really cut the wind for the home side, but they managed to earn some late consolation in the form of a Robinson header which ensured the Blades are well and truly in the mix ahead of the return leg at the City Ground on Tuesday . night.
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