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3 things we clearly learnt about Nottingham Forest during yesterday’s play-off final win v Huddersfield Town

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Nottingham Forest are back in the Premier League after 23 years.

Steve Cooper’s side beat Huddersfield Town 1-0 in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Sunday, with Levi Colwill’s own-goal a few minutes before the half proving the difference.

Forest were in the ascendancy before the break and rode their luck after it, with Huddersfield having two strong penalty appeals turned down.

The top flight beckons for the Reds, who will feel they are back where they belong, but before the focus shifts to the preparations for 2022/23 we’ve highlighted three things we clearly learnt about Forest during yesterday’s play-off final win…

Scott McKenna is a big-game player

There were suggestions ahead of the game that the left side of Forest’s backline could be got at with Scott McKenna not the most agile of defenders and Jack Colback a makeshift wing-back but the former certainly answered the doubters.

In Forest’s biggest game in more than two decades, the Scot stepped up and produced a man of the match performance at Wembley.

Forest have been known for their brave, front-foot football under Cooper but yesterday, their solidity was key to victory.

Time and time again McKenna was there to deny Huddersfield opportunities as he proved himself a big-game player.

Stepping up to the Premier League will not be easy but the 25-year-old has earned his chance to do so.

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James Garner will be hard to replace if he doesn’t come back for 2022/23

In a cagey game lacking in chances, James Garner’s quality on the ball was enough to help Forest return to the Premier League.

The Manchester United loanee’s fiendish cross forced Colwill into action and it is more a credit to his delivery than any mistake from the defender that it ended up in the net.

Garner is set to return to Old Trafford at the end of his loan spell and will be keen to convince Erik Ten Hag he is ready to make an impact in the first team.

Assuming Forest can’t bring him back on loan, replacing the 21-year-old needs to be one of their top priorities because we saw yesterday just what a talent he is.

He will leave a void in the Reds midfield that Ryan Yates and Jack Colback cannot fill.

They learnt from the defeat to Bournemouth

Their meteoric rise under Cooper – from bottom of the table in September to promoted in May – has come on the back of some wonderful football and on Sunday we saw a team that had learned from its mistakes.

When automatic promotion was within reach against Bournemouth earlier this month, the Reds fell apart in the second half but on Sunday they came together and strengthened as the pressure mounted after the break.

In the post-match press conference, Cooper labelled that defeat to the Cherries “a really pivotal game”.

“When we reflected on it,” he explained. “There was a real sense from the players to go ‘that weren’t us second half’, we need to be better than that in these big games.”

They certainly were better yesterday, in what was the biggest result in the club’s recent history.


London-based sports journalist at Snack Media EFL accredited, graduate of New Associates and the University of Brighton

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: 3 things we clearly learnt about Nottingham Forest during yesterday’s play-off final win v Huddersfield Town

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