FOREST FIRE BLUNTS BLADES
Warburton breathes easy after comeback victory
MARK WARBURTON admits it was “madness” that his Nottingham Forest side managed to ride their luck to steal this win.
The pressure on Warburton was relieved as Forest overcame the Blades and stopped the rot after four straight defeats.
First-half goals from Jason Cummings and Kieran Dowell sealed a comeback win over United, who took an early lead through John Lundstram.
Warburton’s side now occupy a spot in the top half heading into the international break.
He said: “We played very well in our last game and got nothing, while here we didn’t hit those heights and we took three points. That’s the madness of the game.
“We gave away a soft goal at the beginning and the players looked nervous but it was a good reaction. We could have scored two more goals at the end of the first half.
“The chances for Kieran and Jason should have been converted while we could have scored a few more at the end as we broke away on the counter.
“Overall, the boys responded to the challenge really well. We wanted to go into the international break on the back of a victory and all credit has to go to the players.”
The Blades came into this game in excellent form having enjoyed two wins inside a week and with six victories in their last seven outings.
Their midweek conquering of Wolves followed a brilliant display at arch-rivals Sheffield Wednesday which meant Chris Wilder’s side entered this match sitting second in the table.
And United enjoyed an excellent start as they went in front with just two minutes on the clock. Lundstram, making his first start of the season, connected with Enda Stevens’ centre and slotted past Jordan Smith.
But that lead barely last five minutes as the hosts drew level. A poor clearance from John Fleck, from an equally poor Ben Osborn corner, allowed Cummings to crash home his first league goal for the club.
And the Forest men put themselves in front on 27 minutes. Tendayi Darikwa’s cross to the far post was calmly volleyed
across goal by Daryl Murphy and into the path of Dowell, who finished expertly.
Cummings could, and maybe should, have increased Forest’s buffer even further just before the break but the Scot’s effort skimmed a post.
Andreas Bouchalakis, a halftime replacement for Danny Fox, created the first chance of the second half but planted a header just wide.
The majority of the second half was even, but without many clear goalscoring opportunities. Forest’s slender lead was always in danger as United upped the ante and threw on the heroes from last week’s Steel City derby, Leon Clarke and David Brooks.
United were pushing as the game wore on and they left it late to fashion their best chance of pinching a point.
Cameron Carter-Vickers planted a header that beat Jordan Smith but came back agonisingly off the woodwork.
Despite the setback, Wilder was proud of his players’ showing. “I don’t know whether to cry or smile,” he said. “If there was any confirmation needed that we’ve arrived in this league, then it was that performance. It was outstanding.
“I’m not going soft, because I want to win. I want us to win going forward.
“Maybe the boys may have expected a rocket but we just haven’t married up the performance with a result.
“We’ve made a couple of mistakes that have been quite clincially punished.
“We pushed them back and pushed them back. We’ve not got the rewards but we’re certainly on the right track.”
CLOSE SHAVE: Nottingham Forest striker Daryl Murphy wins a header
EYES DOWN: Liam Bridcutt takes the ball for Forest