Nottingham Forest will make the eagerly anticipated journey to Bramall Lane tomorrow for the 3:00 PM kick-off, where they will face Sheffield United in the first leg of the Championship Play-Off semi-final, before returning to the City Ground on Tuesday evening.
Supporters of Forest could easily be forgiven for being somewhat disappointed with how their season has panned out. They were rock bottom of the Championship table after four matches and following the appointment of Steve Cooper on 21st September, replacing the departing Chris Hughton. This followed several months of positive results and by the 12th of February had moved into the top six.
In the last few games of the season had the opportunity to steal the second spot, however, a 1-0 defeat at AFC Bournemouth granted the Cherries automatic promotion and succumbed Forest to the Play-Offs. On the final day, they had the opportunity to finish third; however, after recording a 1-1 draw at Hull City, married with Huddersfield’s 2-0 victory over Bristol City, saw the Reds finish fourth in the table.
Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest famously faced each other in the (Nationwide) Division One Play-Off semi-finals in 2003, after United finished third, and the Reds fifth respectively. Neil Warnock’s side travelled to the City Ground on 10th May in the first leg and walked away with a respectable 1-1 draw. Michael Brown had tucked away a penalty on 58 minutes, three minutes after David Johnson had gifted the hosts the lead. On 83 minutes the hosts were reduced to ten men after Michael Dawson was dismissed following a late challenge on Steve Kabba.
The return leg at Bramall Lane five days later would unfold unprecedented drama at Bramall Lane. The tie looked like ending in misery for the Blades after a long hard season after Johnson (on 30 minutes), and Andy Reid (58 minutes), guided the visitors into a 2-0 lead. United rallied the troops and within eight minutes the score was level. Brown flashed home a free-kick on the hour mark and, on 68 minutes, Kabba flicked the ball over the head of Des Walker and looped the ball home past Darren Ward in the Forest goal.
The scores were equal at 2-2 at 90 minutes and the game went to extra time. The two teams outmuscled one another until the final seven minutes produced an amazing spectacle. A long kick upfield found Paul Peschisolido in front of the 18-yard area. With magnificent skill, he weaved in and out between two defenders before sliding the ball past a bewildered Ward. The further drama unfolded in 117 minutes when Peschisolido’s near post cross was turned home by Walker. A place in the final was all but assured but there was a nail-biting final minute when Rob Page netted in his net to make it a close finish.
To this day, this match is still considered one of the greatest matches witnessed at Bramall Lane! United marched onto the final which they lost 3-0 at the Millennium Stadium (Cardiff), to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Forest boss Steve Cooper will head to Bramall Lane this weekend without several key players. They are expected to be without defenders Steve Cook (head), and Max Lowe (groin), who is currently on loan from the Blades, whilst strikers Keinan Davis and Lewis Grabban are both sidelined through injury.
Last Six Meetings
30.09.2017 – Nottingham Forest 2-1 Sheffield United (Championship)
17.03.2018 – Sheffield United 0-0 Nottingham Forest (Championship)
03.11.2018 – Nottingham Forest 1-0 Sheffield United (Championship)
19.04.2019 – Sheffield United 2-0 Nottingham Forest (Championship)
02.11.2021 – Nottingham Forest 1-1 Sheffield United (Championship)
04.03.2022 – Sheffield United 1-1 Nottingham Forest (Championship)