Sheff United 1 – 2 N Forest

Nottingham Forest took an important step towards the Championship play-off final as a dominating display helped them to a 2-1 semi-final first leg win over Sheffield United.

Jack Colback took advantage of an untimely slip from Ben Osborn to send Steve Cooper’s men ahead (10), before Blades captain John Egan was taken into possession by Joe Lolley, allowing Brennan Johnson to fire in a second crucial and freezing ( 71).

But just when hope seemed to fade for United, they pulled one back in second-half stoppage time as Sander Berge put the ball on the line, despite replays suggesting that Jack Robinson handled the ball before the midfielder did (90+1).

On Tuesday night at the City Ground, the teams will face off once more – in a match live on Sky Sports Football – for a place at Wembley on Sunday 29 May.

Tuesday, May 17, 7:30 p.m.

Kick off 7:45 p.m.

How the Cooper Reds made a move towards Wembley

As South Yorkshire basked in temperatures of over 20 degrees, there was a festive atmosphere in Bramall Lane, as the journey to Wembley began for two of the second tier giants.

In his program notes, Paul Heckingbottom called on Blades fans to “understand how important the role they have in what we’re trying to achieve” and they responded as expected, creating a deafening cauldron of noise that clearly prompted players to switch to an encouraging start.

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Jack Colback was on hand to put Nottingham Forest ahead against Sheffield United in their first leg

It was also almost rewarded early on, when Sander Berge was tied to the bridge as he attacked for a free kick, although referee Andre Marriner was quick to indicate he would take no further action. But within seconds Forest took the lead.

Time seemed to stand still for a moment, as Joe Worrall’s speculative aerial ball found Sam Surridge, who squared for Philip Zinckernagel. Ben Osborn lost his footing, the Dane saw a shot saved by Wes Foderingham, but Colback was on hand to bail his team-mate out and find the net.

Sheffield United came close to a draw when John Egan’s powerful goal header was headed off the line by Surridge, but it was all Forest for the rest of the half – they could well have scored two or three more goals.

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Brennan Johnson put Nottingham Forest 2-0 ahead of Sheffield United in the first leg of their Championship play-off clash

The hosts’ high-risk defense allowed Johnson to break into the penalty area halfway through to poke the palms of the Blades keeper, before Ryan Yates gave an unmarked nod. Foderingham then made a crucial save to prevent Surridge from closing in, before collecting Johnson’s header seconds later.

Although United were less vulnerable on the counter after the break and their attacks became more consistent, each time their finishing left much to be desired, while Brice Samba was able to make plenty of single receptions from crosses into the box .

And they were the architects of their own downfall midway through the second half, when Egan was too slow to react to Lolley’s run, with the substitute able to fire a shot that was deflected into Johnson’s path , which ended coldly.

The hosts found a way to halve the deficit in the final minutes, however, when Berge forced the ball over the line to revive Blades hopes ahead of Tuesday’s second leg.

What the managers said…

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Despite losing 2-1 to Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom was pleased with the resilience of his side who gave themselves a chance to continue progressing in the second leg.

SheffieldUnited Paul Heckingbottom: “Their players come out gutted and ours have a chance. It’s half time and we were late before this season and we came back and won. We have to recover and prepare as best we can – that start now.

“We went all the way and our goal was crucial for us. We knew they would come and counter. They have good players in transition and we weren’t good enough.

“In the second half we were much better. They defended their box very well and obviously when they break their opportunities come when we get stretched. It was a mistake that led to their second goal but let’s credit our players for fighting back.”

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Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper was pleased with his side’s performance in their 2-1 first leg win over Sheffield United.

Nottingham Forest Steve Cooper“I’m not going to walk out of here irritated that we took the lead in the first leg of the play-offs. There is of course frustration that we conceded and we should have scored more than we did, but it was a real play-off.

“In the second half they had more ball than we would have liked but we still looked like a threat. If someone had said we would have created so many chances in a game of this tension at the moment. outside you would be We have a lot of young players who haven’t had games like this. We’re very positive and we’re looking forward to Tuesday now. Let’s go.”

Analysis: ‘Sheff Utd will be happier after late goal’

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Sander Berge’s late header pulled one back for Sheffield United against Nottingham Forest ahead of the second leg.

Former Forest defender Michael Dawson on Sky Sports Football:

“Time will tell if that goal will cost Forest. They could have been a lot further ahead. But at 2-0 there is always that opportunity. Sheffield United will be much happier now with the way the game went finished.

“If you had asked them before the game, they would have broken your hand for a 2-1 lead. But they will be so disappointed with the goal they conceded.”

Former Sheff Utd midfielder Michael Brown on Sky Sports:

“It was luck, just in the final seconds they needed something for the second leg. It was a disappointing performance overall, but it shows how tight it can be, if you can get something to the end.

“Now there is a bit more confidence in what has been a really difficult afternoon for Sheffield United.”

Man of the Match – Brennan Johnson

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Brennan Johnson believes Nottingham Forest could have beaten Sheffield United more emphatically but is confident his side will still progress to the Championship play-off final.

“We are in a good position after winning the game. We played well today and had a lot of chances. We would have liked the advantage to be bigger, but we will take advantage of it on Tuesday.”

And after?

The semi-final second leg of the play-offs will take place at the City Ground on Tuesday May 17, live on Sky Sports Football; Kick off 7:45 p.m. The winner will face either Huddersfield or Luton in the play-off final at Wembley on Sunday May 29.

Sky Sports

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