Cooper: It's good to get off the mark

18 Aug 2023

Nott'm Forest head coach praises mentality of his squad after picking up their first win of the season

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Head coach Steve Cooper praised the mentality of his Nottingham Forest players after they claimed their first win of 2023/24 with a hard fought 2-1 home success over Sheffield United.


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Taiwo Awoniyi's third-minute opener was cancelled out by a stunning Gustavo Hamer strike for Sheff Utd before substitute Chris Wood headed home a late winner for Forest.

"I'm really pleased to get the first win, you want to get the first win on the board at the start of the season and it's good that we've done that," Cooper said.

“We started the game really well - not just because we scored. For 30 minutes, I thought we were excellent.

"I didn't really love the last 15 minutes [of the half] and the complacency that kicked in our game, I thought we didn't need to do that. If anything, we should have ramped it up more.

"A couple of unforced errors came in and I thought half-time came at a good time because it gave me a chance to get into the guys a little bit and say 'Come on, you were good for 30 minutes, don't stop doing that'. And then it did seep into the start of the second half, and the balls went back to Matt [Turner] too early and they've had a little spell with corners and scored from it.

"If anything after we regrouped, it ended up being not a good thing, but a thing that got us back on track and I thought we were excellent then for the last 30 or 40 minutes.

"I thought we took the game to Sheffield. Of course we were the better team, of course we were the team that deserved to win, but you have to go and do that."

See: Super sub Wood heads in late winner for Forest against Sheff Utd

The introduction of substitute Wood, who replaced fellow striker Awoniyi with six minutes remaining, proved a masterstroke as he headed in the late winner.

"This is an era where it is a 100-minute game, you need more than your starting XI," added Cooper. "You need strikers to score in the first half, strikers to come off the bench in the second half.

"I'm really pleased for Taiwo and pleased for Woody because he's come back from a long-term injury, shown great commitment.

"He's a leader in the dressing room, part of the leadership group and we need to get behind these guys because they can make a real difference for us. It was top finishes from both of them."

Sheff Utd manager Paul Heckingbottom reflected: "From 20 minutes in, we were very good and played really well. I was delighted with the second-half performance.

"We more than matched them after 20 minutes. That was the performance we wanted to see. The new players could see it."

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