Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper is ‘really pleased’ with their 2-1 victory over Sheffield United, although he wants the Reds to be more effective in front of goal.
Cooper’s men took the lead 10 minutes into the Championship play-off semi-final first leg. Jack Colback was given a simple finish after Wes Foderingham kept Philip Zinckernagel out. They continued to carve Sheffield United open, but a second goal proved to be elusive in the first half.
Nottingham Forest had to deal with an improved United in the second half, as the Blades finally began to show composure on the ball.
But Forest defended their lead well. And they made it 2-0 in the 71st minute thanks to good work from Joe Lolley and then Brennan Johnson’s finish.
The East Midlands outfit were left frustrated when Jack Robinson scored in stoppage time. The goal will give United some hope for the second leg.
But overall it was a top performance from Forest and they have the advantage over United heading into Tuesday’s game at the City Ground.
During a post-match interview with Sky Sports, Cooper said: “Second half they had more of the ball than we would have liked. But we also knew that when we made a pass or two we looked a real threat.
“If someone said we were gonna create that many chances today, in the tension of a game that the play-offs give you, and away from home, you’d be very happy with it.
Dressing room is ‘really positive’ – Steve Cooper
“We’ve got a lot of young players in the team, experiencing things for the first time so there’s a lot of positives. The dressing room is really positive.”
But Cooper does want his attackers to take more of their chances. Johnson and Sam Surridge could have had two goals each.
“Yeah of course we should have [scored more],” Cooper added. “You’ve seen the amount of goals we’ve scored this season, we’ll be alright.
“We’ve just got to stick to the plan, stay on task and we can’t wait for Tuesday now.”
He continued: “I thought we managed the occasion really well, it was a brilliant atmosphere. The Sheffield United fans always play their part.
“It felt like a proper game – was great to be involved in it. And Tuesday will be the same.”
When asked how his team goes about finishing the job, Cooper replied: “The same applies really. It’s tough getting into the play-offs in any league, but particularly this league. It’s an achievement in itself.
“I’d have liked us to have a bit more of the ball in the second half. But Sheffield United are really good. We’re more or less in the same league position, they’re in the play-offs for a reason. Lots to look back on the game and be really pleased about.”