04 March 2022

Steve Cooper has mixed feelings over Sheffield United draw

04 March 2022

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper felt his side should have beaten Sheffield United rather than being content with a 1-1 Championship draw after scoring a stoppage-time equaliser.

Top scorer Billy Sharp put the home side ahead midway through the second half with his 13th goal of the season after Brennan Johnson missed a penalty for the visitors. With the clock ticking down, Ryan Yates equalised.

Cooper said: “I thought we were excellent. I’m proud of the performance and disappointed we didn’t win. We should have won the game comfortably.

“You’re more than half-pleased that we managed to get something out of the game at the end. It would have been criminal if we’d lost that game, the way that we played.

“We were by far the superior team. There were great performances from individuals and tactically I thought we were excellent. We looked like the home team and our fans certainly made it feel like that as well.”

Johnson had a shot on target inside the opening minute which was beaten away by Wes Foderingham. From the resulting corner, delivered by Garner, Keinan Davis headed just beyond the far post.

Following a quick counter-attack by the hosts, led by Morgan Gibbs-White, Sander Berge fired in a firm shot which was turned away by goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.

Philip Zinckernagel found himself through on goal, but Foderingham made an important save from close range.

Forest were awarded a penalty after 33 minutes when Rhys Norrington-Davies fouled Djed Spence inside the area but Johnson’s weak chipped effort to the centre of the goal was saved comfortably by Foderingham.

Steve Cook nearly put Forest ahead shortly before the hour-mark when his header thumped against the crossbar and Sharp (69) found the net with a far-post header after meeting a cross from Gibbs-White.

Deep into time added on, Yates levelled with a header from Garner’s corner.

Cooper added: “I’ll probably wake up in the morning and feel disappointed that we haven’t won but I’m feeling really proud of the performance.

“To completely dominate, as we did, I think bodes well for what we’re trying to do.”

On Johnson’s penalty miss, Cooper said: “He’ll be disappointed, but he needs these moments to become the player that he’s going to become.

“I don’t worry about him for one second because what hurts you makes you stronger and you need to go through moments like that.”

Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom said: “It’s a kick in the teeth. It hurts, of course it does, but it’s a 1-1 draw.

“The timing of the goal means that one team comes off feeling like they’ve won the FA Cup and the other that they’ve been relegated.

“They were the better team first half and we were the better team second half.

“It was a really good header (for Sharp’s goal). He can’t do much more than use the pace of the ball because he’s leaning, so it’s all about the direction.

“Forest came with a slightly different game-plan. They went to press us high and stop us. Every team is coming with a plan to try and restrict our chances, without a doubt.

“We’ve got some square pegs in round holes through necessity. We weren’t at our best.

“You’ve got to see it through to the final whistle and Forest managed to get their goal.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox