As jubilant Blackpool fans swarmed onto the Bloomfield Road pitch last Sunday after the Seasiders booked their place in the Play-Offs, over on the other side of the country at Glanford Park, Nottingham Forest fans were eagerly awaiting the results to see whether it would be Blackpool or Swansea in the way of a trip to Wembley.
As it was a Brett Omerod header was enough to see the Tangerines through at the expense of the Swans, but is this the tie Forest would have wanted?
If truth be told, probably not. Blackpool are somewhat of a bogey side for the Reds and were the only side to do the double over Forest this season.
The sandy beach-like pitch at Blackpool won’t exactly thrill Forest, who have drawn a host of plaudits this season for the fast paced, flowing football they play.
But whilst the extreme pressures of the Play-Offs will make it a ‘lottery’ so to speak for the clubs involved, there is one advantage that Forest hold over Cardiff City, Leicester and Blackpool – Billy Davies.
The fiery Scot has a tremendous record in the Championship Play-Offs, after leading former club Preston North End to successive Play-Off placed finishes, and gaining promotion to the Premier League with Derby County via the Play-Offs in 2007.
There is no denying that the job Davies has done at the City Ground has been nothing sort of phenomenal. To take a side that last season only just survived relegation, to now being just three games away from the top flight is highly creditable.
Forest have become a team that are hard to beat, no more evidently in the solid foundation they have at the back, with Wes Morgan and Kelvin Wilson providing a solid base to assist PFA team of the year choices Chris Gunter and goalkeeper Lee Camp.
And whilst the defence does there job the craft of players such as Radoslaw Majewski and Chris Cohen have helped feed goal hungry Robert Earnshaw and Dexter Blackstock in the promotion push.
But whilst the Reds may hold an advantage over their rivals in the knowledge that they have Davies’ unchallengeable Play-Off experience, one thing Forest lack is the experience and success in the Play-Offs themselves.
Two previous Play-Off campaigns ended disastrously for Forest. Under Paul Hart in 2003, the Reds squandered an aggregate 3-1 lead with half an hour remaining against Sheffield United, only for the Blades to turn the tie on it’s head and eventually win the game 4-3.
And lighting really did strike twice for Forest when they spectacularly lost to Yeovil Town in 2006, under the stewardship of Colin Calderwood. After leaving Somerset with a 2-0 away win, it seemed inevitable that Forest would be heading for Wembley.
But unbelievably the Glovers staged probably the greatest comeback in Play-Off history to beat Forest 5-2 on the night, and 5-4 on aggregate.
But the naivety that Forest perhaps had under Hart and Calderwood is unlikely to creep in whilst Davies is at the helm, and in a pressure cooker situation like the Play-Offs he is the man you want leading your side.
So will it be third time lucky in the Play-Offs for the Reds? Time will tell, but with Billy Davies leading you into the end of season lottery, you wouldn’t back against them.
Written By Jonathon Ogle