Sheffield United: Manager's message to his team and the officials ahead of play-off second leg at Nottingham Forest

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, has warned his team not to fall into the traps Nottingham Forest will set during the second leg of their Championship play-off semi-final.

Saturday, 14th May 2022, 6:21 pm

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Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest: Sander Berge breathes some life back into ...

Speaking after Sander Berge’s goal towards the end of a breathless contest at Bramall Lane kept the tie alive ahead of Tuesday’s return in the east Midlands, Heckingbottom also urged the match officials to keep a close eye on Forest’s defending at set-pieces after claiming the Norwegian should have been awarded a penalty after being hauled down by his marker before the interval.

Strikes from Jack Colback and Brennan Johnson appeared to have left Steve Cooper’s side on the verge of reaching this month’s Wembley showpiece before Berge breathed new life into United’s challenge at the death.

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“We have to go there and be positive,” Heckingbottom said, admitting he was disappointed with many aspects of his team’s performance. “But we aren’t going to go there and just open ourselves up to their strengths.

"If it is still 2-1 with 10 minutes to go, we're still in it,” Heckingbottom added. “It’s still game on. We are still in this.”

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom applauds the fans after the final whistle in the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final, first leg match at Bramall Lane: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Although Heckingbottom conceded United had not been at their best, after his opposite number Steve Cooper correctly insisted Forest could have scored more, the 44-year-old felt the visitors should have been punished when Berge, peeling away from a set-piece, was impeded as he made his way towards the ball.

“Forest drag people down in the box,” he said. “They do it every game but have only, I think, given one penalty away from it. That’s not complaining. It’s just us trying to exploit something."

Sheffield United's Sander Berge (left) and Nottingham Forest's James Garner: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.