Match Report: Nottingham Forest 2, Sheffield United 1

Blades v Forest
Blades v Forest
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When John Lundstram fired them into a second minute lead, Sheffield United appeared destined to record their third straight Championship win.

But, as Chris Wilder's team discovered at the City Ground earlier today, nothing in this most unpredictable of divisions is quite as it seems.

Instead it was Nottingham Forest, courtesy of goals from Jason Cummings and Kieran Dowell, who finished the victors. Despite, it must be said, looking all at sea defensively throughout the first-half and coming under sustained periods of pressure in the second.

Lundstram, making his full league debut for United following a summer move from Oxford, produced a clinical finish to convert Enda Stevens' low centre as Wilder's men, who began the afternoon second in the table, attempted to overhaul leaders Cardiff City.

But, rather than build the platform for an emphatic victory, the midfielder's strike was followed by efforts from Cummings and Dowell as Forest, inexplicably, took the lead.

The excellent Mark Duffy went close during the closing stages. Jack O'Connell hit the post. Forest, though, hung-on to condemn United to defeat and halt their own poor run of form.

Wilder, speaking at his pre-match media conference yesterday, admitted he suspected this match might be something of a goal-fest. It produced three inside the first 27 minutes although, given the quality of Forest's defending, there could, probably should, have been a whole lot more.

Equally confusing was the fact it was United who trailed. With Lundstram breaking the deadlock almost straight from kick-off and Duffy causing all manner of problems in an advanced, central role, Forest wrestled an improbable lead through Cummings and Dowell. The visitors' sense of frustration was increased when, with Kieron Freeman already ruled-out, fellow wing-back George Baldock succumbed to injury.

True, United had also appeared unusually lax at the back. But even Mark Warburton, the Forest manager, would have struggled to mount a case for his side being ahead at the break when he trooped off at the interval.

A feature of United's work so far this season has been Wilder's willingness to make changes, even when his squad is on a winning run. It was a theme which continued in the East Midlands, with Jake Wright, David Brooks and Leon Clarke among those dropping to the bench. Although Clayton Donaldson's return following injury raised precious few eyebrows, even though Clarke had scored four times in his last two games, Lundstram's selection in the starting eleven was a surprise.

Not least because it appeared to signal a shift from United's preferred 3-5-2 formation. If it did, and given the ferocity of the early action it was not immediately apparent, then the visitors adapted with ease. Mark Duffy had already wreaked havoc with a clever, drifting run before Stevens' second minute cross was turned home by Lundstram.

The lead, much to Wilder's obvious frustration on the touchline, last only six minutes. John Fleck has been one of United's stand-out performers since arriving at the club last summer. But his clearance, following an equally poor corner, was woeful and presented Cummings with the chance to power the ball beyond Jamal Blackman. Forest scored again - through Dowell - just before the half-hour mark although, on the run of play, it was difficult to fathom how United found themselves trailing. Certainly, it must have crossed the minds of Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill as, together with coach Matt Prestridge, they convened for a long talk in front of the away dug-out.

United, despite continuing to look the more threatening of the two sides, survived two big scares either side of the break. First Cummings sliced wide after escaping his marker at the far post before Ben Osborn's shot caught the back of Cameron Carter-Vickers' heel and fizzed just past the foot of Blackman's right hand post. United pressed and, as the final whistle beckoned, applied some serious pressure. Duffy's 90th minute shot was parried to safety by Jordan Smith before O'Connell saw a header rebound off the post.

Nottingham Forest: Smith, Mancienne, Traore, Bridcutt, Murphy, Osborn, Fox (Bouchalakis 46), Dowell (Clough 80), Darikwa, Cummings (Brereton 76), Worrall. Not used: Henderson, Lichaj, McKay,, Walker.

Sheffield United: Blackman, O'Connell, Basham, Carter-Vickers, Baldock Wright 33), Stevens. Lundstram (Brooks 62), Coutts, Fleck, Duffy, Donaldson (Clarke 57). Not used: Moore, Sharp, Lafferty, Carruthers.

Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire).

Star Man: Mark Duffy