Forest opens Blades, as there is a slip in the box to let Zinckernagel in, who somehow misses the chance. No matter, he steps up Colback’s steps on the rebound. He advantage for the Tricky Trees.
9 minutes: Forest gives away a free kick and Ollie Norwood, as always, will do it for Blades. There is a claim that Berger was packed in the box, but no dice. I’m not sure why – Garner was all over the Norwegian. Without VAR, luck for Forest. That was an act of abuse.
8 minutes: Forest continues to look for the out-ball for Johnson while Blades tries to hit Morgan Gibbs-White, who is facing three big defenders. Zinckernagel makes a mistake and Forest barely manages to clear the ball.
7 minutes: Blades goes back on the offensive, but Sander Berger’s ball fails to fire Ben Osborn.
5 minutes: Phew. Great defense from Blades’ Basham as Brennan Johnson escapes down the flank, and his cross is cleared after a good ball from Worrall. Sam Surridge was on the prowl and if he had missed the interception, he was ready to score.
4 minutes: Blades brighter, with Samba claiming the ball after an attack down the left flank of the Bosque defence.
3 minutes: It’s a very bright sun on Bramall Lane, and the game’s opening is a bit lukewarm. It’s loud off the field in a stadium, the noise resonates. Spence clears an early corner for Blades. John Egan’s header was blocked.
1 minute: And here we go… Blades is betting on a comeback after a year out of the Premier League, and for Nottingham Forest it’s as long as 1999.
There’s something about these playoff games, where every move has a price tag attached to it, and TV commentators blather with foreshadowings of what it all could mean. It is an existential crisis that takes place on a football field. Does this mean more? In this case, most likely yes.
On a sunny Bramall Lane, both Paul Heckingbottom and Steve Cooper, the two managers, have been talking.
SOUTH CAROLINA: [On Keinan Davis]: “Being on the bench means that he can contribute. If we need the guys on the bench we know we have options. We want to win, I go into every challenge wanting to win. We know it’s a little different. It’s a different context and of course we want to win. “
PH: “We have shown great character to get ahead. This week has been very similar to the previous one without games during the week and it has allowed us to prepare”.
Our resident Blade remembers this accessory fondly.
Barry Glendenning anticipated this playoff matchup without hope.
Sheffield United have not changed teams who thrashed Fulham 4-0 on the final day of the regular season, while Steve Cooper has almost completely shuffled his match package with Hull. Steve Cook returns to the team, as does Jack Colback at left back, with Djed Spence on the right. Ryan Yates will join James Garner in the center of midfield. Keinan Davis is named to the bench, hopefully for Wembley.
Sheffield Utd: Foderingham, Basham, Egan, Robinson, Osborn, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, Berge, Gibbs-White, Ndiaye. Substitutes: A Davies, B Davies, Baldock, Hourihane, Osula, Norrington-Davies, Jebbison.
Nottingham Forest: Samba, Worrall, Cook, McKenna, Spence, Yates, Garner, Colback, Zinckernagel, Surridge, Johnson. Substitutes: Horvath, Fieueiredo, Davis, Laryea, Mighten, Cafu, Lolley.
Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Arthur Seaton, Sean Bean, Deep Purple stick Ian Paice, Joe Root, DH Lawrence, just a few of the names that will be in this playoff game between two playoff-hating clubs. Forest never won a playoff tie, while Blades played in eight playoff campaigns and was unsuccessful in none of them. Forest finished fourth after 46 regular season games, while the Blades finished fifth. The feeling was that Forest, under Steve Cooper, left his revival too late after changing manager from him in September, but the same goes for Paul Heckingbottom, who replaced Slavisa Jokanovic in November at Bramall Lane. To get to Wembley and the £170m game, they have to get their teams past these 180 minutes over two games. This is massive.
Join me, kick-off is at 3pm UK time.