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Nottingham Forest: Steve Cook was colossal in play-off victory over Sheff Utd

Nottingham Forest took a major leap towards Wembley as Steve Cooper’s men beat Sheffield United 2-1 at Bramall Lane in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final.

Goals either side of half-time from Jack Colback and Brennan Johnson saw the East Midlands outfit take a 2-0 lead before Sander Berge’s added time strike halved the deficit for the Blades going into Tuesday evening’s second leg at the City Ground.

Forest will be frustrated that they will take just a one-goal lead into the second leg having dominated the majority of proceedings with 17 shots, eight of which were on target. However, it was an excellent performance against one of the Championship’s best teams at home, with defender Steve Cook proving colossal at the back.

Cook was Forest’s hero at Bramall Lane

As per Sofascore, the 31-year-old made a whopping 11 clearances, three tackles, three blocks and one interception in a performance which deserved a clean sheet. Moreover, the centre-back won all four of his duels, whilst losing possession just nine times.

However, the January signing completed only nine of his 18 passes, making his passing accuracy 50%, something that he will be keen to improve upon in the second leg.

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Having arrived at the City Ground from Bournemouth in January, Cook has become a kingpin for Forest, missing just seven matches since swapping the south coast for the East Midlands, and he was previously described as “excellent” by his former Cherries boss Eddie Howe.

There had been a slight concern that the centre-back wouldn’t make the trip to South Yorkshire, having missed last weekend’s clash against Hull City after suffering a nasty head wound in the previous game against Bournemouth, whilst also having to deal with his father suffering a cardiac arrest prior to Cook’s return to the Vitality Stadium.

However, Cooper massively reaped the rewards of having the 31-year-old alongside Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna at the back today as his side ensured that they will take a precious lead into their home leg against the Blades.

Nottingham Forest have turned the City Ground into an absolute fortress, having won their last seven league home matches, and they will certainly fancy their chances of making it to Wembley for the final on 29 May. Cook’s performance today played a big part in them enjoying such an advantageous position ahead of Tuesday’s semi-final second leg.

AND in other news: Forest can land the new McKenna in “outstanding” 19-year-old prodigy, Cooper surely ecstatic

Article title: Nottingham Forest: Steve Cook was colossal in play-off victory over Sheff Utd

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