Nottingham Forest play host to Sheffield United in the second leg of their Championship playoff semi-final having established a 2-1 lead from the weekend’s opening fixture at Bramall Lane.
Whoever prevails at the City Ground on Tuesday night will square off against Huddersfield Town or Luton Town at Wembley Stadium later this month.
Heading into Saturday’s encounter in Yorkshire, Steve Cooper would have had doubts over whether Forest had lost some of their momentum having ended the regular campaign with two away fixtures without success.
However, the club’s head coach need not have worried as Jack Colback and Brennan Johnson scored the goals to give Forest the advantage ahead of Tuesday’s mammoth showdown in the East Midlands.
Sander Berge’s effort in added-on time has kept this tie very much alive, but Forest will be more than satisfied that they are returning to their fortress with a lead.
As it stands, their home winning streak stands at seven matches, scoring a total of 22 goals in the process, and they are statistics which highlight the size of the task in front of Sheffield United.
Johnson’s 71st-minute goal at the weekend has taken him to 17 strikes for the Championship this campaign, the Wales international having previously gone four games without finding the back of the net before his late penalty versus Hull City on the final day.
Sheffield United’s manager Paul Heckingbottom on March 19, 2022© Reuters
If Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom is going to cling onto a certain statistic, it will be that Forest have now gone four games without keeping a clean sheet.
At the same time, the Blades have scored in their last six outings, and there will be genuine belief that they can upset the odds when the action gets underway.
That said, Heckingbottom will feel relieved that the tie did not get away from his players at the weekend, particularly having conceded as early as the 10th minute.
Sheffield United’s away return is in sharp contrast to Forest’s home record, the Yorkshire side’s only success in seven trips coming in their final regular contest at Queens Park Rangers.
In the absence of Billy Sharp, Iliman Ndiaye has more than filled the void, the Frenchman contributing four goals and an assist from his last six outings.