On Friday night, Sheffield United fought valiantly but were ultimately denied a well-earned point due to a late goal.
Taiwo Awoniyi’s early header kicked off the scoring. Then, Gustavo Hamer, on his debut, found the equaliser in the second half. Throughout the match, the Blades effectively matched the hosts, but in the final moments, substitute Chris Wood secured the victory.
Forest: Turner, Worrall, Mangala (Yates 69), Williams, Awoniyi (Wood 84), Gibbs-White, Johnson (Niakhate 89), Aurier, McKenna, Danilo (Kouyate 89), Boly (Elanga 69).
Unused: Horvath, Toffolo, Freuler, Hwang.
Blades: Foderingham, Lowe (Larouci 45), Hamer, Traoré (Hackford 82), Egan, Ahmedhodžić, Norwood, Robinson, Souza (Basham 56), Osborn, Osula (Brooks 74).
Unused: A. Davies, Trusty, T. Davies, Marsh, Seriki.
Facing an eager home crowd, United’s start couldn’t have been worse. In the third minute, Brennan Johnson capitalised on Max Lowe’s miskick, and Taiwo Awoniyi headed home from a Serge Aurier cross. United sought an instant response through Jack Robinson’s long throw, but Will Osula couldn’t connect after Anel Ahmedhodzic’s flick on.
Former Blades loanee Morgan Gibbs-White was routinely denied by Wes Foderingham, and a corner kept alive by Aurier resulted in Scott McKenna’s header going over. Forest’s penalty appeals were dismissed by referee Peter Bankes after Ahmedhodzic and Awoniyi clashed, with Ahmedhodzic deflecting the ball away from Neco Williams with a well-timed challenge.
United’s prime opportunity came in the 34th minute. Ben Osborn’s low cross was only partially cleared by Danilo, and the ball found Souza who’s curling attempt was caught by the Forest stopper.
Willy Boly then received a booking for a clear tug on Bénie Traoré. And the Blades started asserting themselves, winning corners through Lowe and Osborn after Traoré and Hamer found them in the box.
Before halftime, Aurier received a caution after a disagreement with the referee, while Gibbs-White fired over from a promising position.
United had a minor penalty appeal dismissed as Mangala challenged Osula in the box. Norwood also earned a booking for seemingly speaking out of turn.
The Blades made a halftime substitution, bringing on Larouci for Lowe after a below-par showing from him.
And the visiting team quickly gained momentum. Traoré delivered a teasing cross, Osula battled Worrall in the penalty area, and Ahmedhodzic’s shot deflected off Williams and went wide.
Aurier headed the resulting corner over his own crossbar, but the Blades found an equaliser from the second corner in the 48th minute. McKenna’s clearance fell to Hamer, who expertly curled the ball into the top corner, right in front of the travelling Blades.
Having finished the first half in positive fashion, United took the initiative after levelling the score. Souza came agonisingly close to replicating Hamer’s effort after a splendid setup by Osula.
In the 56th minute, Awoniyi found the net from Johnson’s through ball, but the assistant referee’s flag disallowed the goal as Egan and Ahmedhodzic stepped up in time. Meanwhile, Basham replaced Souza who appeared to have suffered cramp.
In the final 20 minutes, Hamer received a caution for a foul on Gibbs-White. United brought in Andre Brooks for Osula in their third substitution.
A long ball caused a misunderstanding between Worrall and McKenna, which then gave Traoré an opportunity, but Turner made a strong save to deny the Ivorian.
With Traoré giving his all, he was forced off with cramp, and Hackford became United’s final substitution. Osborn received a booking for apparent time-wasting over a throw-in in which he had taken.
But, in the 89th minute Forest dealt a devastating blow as substitute Chris Wood headed home Aurier’s cross to steal the victory.
United are still without points on the board, and that might be the case for a while as they host treble winners Manchester City next Sunday.