29 minutes: John Flick was booked, due to Zinkernagel’s rumble, and in the Premier League with VAR, that may have been a red. Admittedly, Flick lost his footing.
28 minutes: Long throw incoming, as Robinson shoots one at the back post. Egan is the target, but Kolback makes it clear.
26 minutes: Feeling calm coming down? Maybe not for long. Sheffield United is taking its time on set pieces. A long ball hitting Gibbs White finds the striker in space but his cross goes into Samba’s arms.
24 minutes: Small break in play as Enda Stevens receives a knock but quickly comes back and orders the ball.
22 minutes: Flick must step back and eliminate the danger while the blades continue to advance. At the other end, Forrest has another chance – many are pleading – and Steve Cooper’s mouth is open, horrified. Zinckernagel, from memory, is the player who coughed up a great chance in the FA Cup against Liverpool. He is clearly good at taking positions, and less efficient at taking them.
20 minutes: Joe Pearson called: “Those Forrest combos are a thing! Weft!” Yes, very sharp house.
19 minutes: The jungle is back on the attack. breathless stuff. Foderingham has to come over to claim Zinckernagel’s shot, then the Blades come back to the other end. What a game indeed. Another target enters, and insanity may ensue.
18 minutes: Off the line – John Egan climbs up from a corner and Surig gets back in there to clear the place. This game has already been launched.
17 minutes: Basham chooses Berger, he escapes beyond the defense of the forest but the danger fades away. The Norwegian wasn’t quite sure what to do once he got there.
15 minutes: The blades force the angle. The forest seemed to be torn apart since the goal. It must be stress.
13 minutes: The Blades fans reacted well to that early setback, despite being hit hard.
11 minutes: Those gaffes that cost so much money we mentioned in the preamble – well, we just saw one from Ben Osborne, who lost his footing, and queued up for Forrest’s chances. There’s nothing Fodringham can do against the Blades once he makes his first save.
The Forest Blades opens, as there is a slip in the chest to allow Zinckernagel, who somehow misses the opportunity. Never mind, Kolback steps up when rebounding. Feature for tricky trees.
9 minutes: Forrest runs away from a free kick, and Ole Norwood – as ever – will take it for the Blades. There is an allegation that the burger was stuffed in the box, but there are no dice. I’m not sure why: Garner was scattered all over Norwegian. No VAR – Lucky Forrest. It was an act of manual handling.
8 minutes: Forrest continues to hunt for Johnson’s outside ball as the Blades attempt to hit Morgan Gibbs-White, who faces three massive defenders. Zinckernagel makes a foul and Forrest just clears the ball.
7 minutes: The blades returned to attack but Sanderberger’s ball failed to clear Ben Osborne.
5 minutes: Auf. Superb defense by the Leeds player Basham as Brennan Johnson escapes from the wing, and his cross slipped clearly after a superb pass from Worrall. Sam Surridge was lurking, and since he wasn’t intercepted, it was only fair to score.
4 minutes: Brighter blades, with Samba taking possession of the ball after an attack down the left flank of the Jungle defence.
3 minutes: The sun was very bright on Bramall Lane, and the game slot was a bit lukewarm. It’s noisy away from the pitch in the stadium where the noise rattles. An early corner of the Blades was cleared by Spence. John Egan’s head is blocked.
1 minute: And we go away… The Blades tried to come back after a year away from the Premier League, and for Nottingham Forest it came down to 1999.
There is just something about these interval games, where every move has a price tag associated with it, and TV commentators are raising omens of what it all might mean. It is an existential crisis that occurred on a football field. Does this mean more? In this case most likely.
On sunny Bramall Lane, Paul Heckingbottom and Steve Cooper, the managers, were talking.
SC: [On Keinan Davis]: “With him on the bench it means he can contribute. If we need the boys off the bench we know we have options. We want to win, I take on every diminished challenge to win. We know it’s a little different. It’s a different context, of course. We want to win.”
BH: “We have shown a great personality in the future. This week has been very similar to being continued with no matches in the middle of the week, and it has allowed us to prepare.”
Our resident Blade remembers this match really fondly.
Preview of Barry Glendenning This meeting of the hopeless playoff.
Sheffield United has not changed from the team That being said, Fulham faltered 4-0 on the final day of the regular season, while Steve Cooper changed his group almost entirely from the Hull game. Steve Cook returns to the team, as is Jack Colback at left-back, and New Spence at right. Ryan Yates will partner James Garner in the midfield position. Keenan Davis has been named to the bench, hopefully with Wembley.
Sheffield United: Foderingham, Basham, Egan, Robinson, Osborne, Norwood, Flick, Stevens, Berg, Gibbs-White, Ndiaye. Subs: A Davies, B Davies, Baldock, Horihan, Ossola, Norrington Davis, Gibson.
Nottingham Forest: Samba, Worrall, Cook, McKenna, Spence, Yates, Garner, Colback, Zinkernagel, Sorge, Johnson. Subs: Horvath, Figueiredo, Davis, Laria, Maiten, Cafu, Lully.
Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Arthur Seton, Sean Bean, Deep Purple Stakesman Ian Paes, Joe Root, DH Lawrence are just a few of the names to be seen in this playoff between two teams who hate the playoffs. Forrest has never won a playoff game, while the Blades have played in eight playoff campaigns and failed in any of them. Forrest finished fourth after 46 games in the regular season, while Leeds finished fifth. The sense was that Forrest, under Steve Cooper, left his revival too late after changing his manager in September, but the same also applies to Paul Hickingbottom, who replaced Slavisa Jokanovic in late November at Bramal Lane. To get to Wembley and the £170m match they have to push their teams through this 180-minute two-legged match. This is huge.
Join me, the match will start at 3pm UK time.