Nottingham Forest Are BACK

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Huddersfield Town (EFL Championship Playoff Final) 29.05.22

Destination, Premier League.

Not since the late nineties have Nottingham Forest been able to say that they were a top flight side, until now that is.

Following a season that started off in disastrous fashion, they were relegation favourites for most of the early part of the campaign, a change in manager, and the arrival of Steve Cooper, has led the Reds to the Promised Land.

A stunning, second half of the season, coupled with a pretty decent, FA Cup run, has finished with a 1-0 win, down Wembley Way, over Huddersfield Town, and a guaranteed pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

All it took was one mistake from the Terriers back-line, but sometimes, that’s all it does take, with the Reds getting their noses in front courtesy of an own-goal, a few minutes before the break.

Keinan Davis was seen to cut the ball back to the ever-industrious James Garner and his curled effort caused confusion in the Terriers defence; with Ryan Yates and the Terriers’ Levi Colwill chasing, it would be the latter who’d get to the ball first and, unfortunately for him, put it past his own ‘keeper, Lee Nicholls, for what would prove the only goal of the game.

It was not a game without incident either, even if it did take a little to get the ball rolling, Yates planting a header wide early on from a Garner free-kick, the same player fizzing one over the crossbar ten minutes later, from the edge of the box.

Forest ‘keeper, Brice Samba, would see some action in the latter stages of the first period, saving well from Sorba Thomas at his near post, whilst Danny Ward also sees an effort deflect wide for a corner.

The goal though, towards the end of the first, was all that was needed for Cooper and his Merry Men, all they had to do was hold out during the second, and hope for the best.

Yates would have an early chance in the second period, firing straight at Nicholls from distance, whilst Davis continued to be a nuisance to the Terrier back-line.

Nicholls would continue seeing action during the second half, Forest continually looking to extend their lead, Garner with a curling effort on the hour whilst at the other end, Brennan Johnson drives one wide of goal.

The Reds breathed a huge sigh of relief minutes later when a penalty-shout from the Terriers is checked by VAR, Harry Toffolo going down in the area – decision, no penalty, and the Huddersfield player receives a booking for his efforts.

Heading into the final ten and the Terriers looked to increase pressure on the Reds backline, Pipa with an effort from range which sails over the bar, whilst the Reds also receive an injury scare, and a SECOND penalty appeal for the Terriers.

This time Max Lowe, not long since brought on for Philip Zinckernagel, looks to have bundled over Lewis O’Brien, but the referee is not budging, in any shape or form, and Forest breath a collective sigh.

Brice Samba, in the Forest goal, is then seen to be struggling somewhat before getting patched and limping with five to go, he’s finally replaced in the closing minutes by the American number one, Ethan Horvath and, although O’Brien would see an effort curl wide of goal, maintains the Reds’ clean-sheet, and with it, promotion.

There’s now a BIGGGGG summer ahead for Steve Cooper, several of the players starting today, were loanees – James Garner, Philip Zinckernagel, Djed Spence, Keinan Davis, and the question will soon arise as to what happens with those, and their parent clubs.

But, it’s all about celebrating the here and now, they’ll soon begin to look ahead and, after the game, Cooper told Sky Sports that: “I’m really pleased for the players and the supporters.

“Everybody connected with the football club deserves this today and we’re now really looking forward to a positive future.

“It’s relief and pride – this isn’t about me but it’s changed my life, potentially anyway.

“We’ve brought Nottingham to Wembley today, we’ve taken over the place and here we are in the Premier League.”

Ex-Newcastle United midfielder, Jack Colback added: “It’s unbelievable, I’m lost for words really

“The start of the season we had was dreadful but the new manager came in and from then on we’ve just taken small steps.

“When he came in we set targets – the first one was to get above the dotted relegation line and then it was just game by game.

“It takes a lot to come from where we were. This is for everyone involved in Nottingham.”

Now, once an almighty hangover in Nottingham subsides, focus will turn to next season, and the release of the Premier League fixtures, on Thursday 16 June, ahead of the new season starting on Saturday 6 August (not forgetting a mid-season break for the World Cup).

Nottingham Forest though, it’s a case of now, like really now, they can look forward to Manchester City and Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, et al, and prepare for a bright, and busy future, under Steve Cooper.

Nottingham Forest: Samba (Horvath 90), Cook, McKenna, Spence, Yates, Garner, Colback, Zinckernagel (Lowe 74), Johnson, Davis (Surridge 66).

Huddersfield Town: Nicholls, Lees, Sarr (Russell 57), Colwill, Pipa, Hogg, O’Brien, Toffolo, Sinani (Holmes 66), Ward (Rhodes 67), Thomas.

Venue: Wembley (80,019)

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @NFFC the Reds players celebrate a momentous occasion.

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