Steve Cooper salutes Forest players for sticking to game plan in Swansea win

The home side won 5-1 to keep up the pressure on Bournemouth for automatic promotion.

By Press Association Published: 30 April 2022 - 5.19pm

Steve Cooper praised his Nottingham Forest players for sticking to the game plan against Swansea as they hammered his old club 5-1 to keep the pressure on Bournemouth in the race for second place in the Championship.

Swansea dominated possession – and had Forest frustrated at half-time, as a Michael Obafemi strike cancelled out a Cyrus Christie own goal, to leave the scores level at 1-1.

But a Sam Surridge hat-trick and a late goal from substitute Alex Mighten helped Forest to three points – and to give themselves a single-goal advantage on goal difference over Bournemouth, who they face on Tuesday on the south coast.

“It was obviously a brilliant win. I am very grateful to the players for sticking to the game plan,” said Cooper.

“It was a different one because we were very happy for Swansea to have the ball – because that is what they do. But they also concede a lot of chances and give away a lot of goals.

“It was always our intention to have that approach – and it should have been 5-1 at half-time, with the chances we created. I don’t say that with any disrespect. You will see when you watch the highlights. It was chance, after chance, after chance.

“It is brilliant that Sam has got his hat-trick but the mentality I want is that it could have been double (the number of goals).

“We want to be an attacking team, you have seen how many goals we have scored this year – that is our approach. I challenged them to be a better team at half-time because the chances were there – and we did that in the second half.”

Surridge signed for Forest in January, in a £2.2million move from Stoke and has now scored seven Championship goals for the club, but none more precious than these.

“We have given him an opportunity. He needed a home. He has found one here. We really believe in him. I worked with him before at Swansea and I was gutted when he left,” said Cooper.

“He has had to be patient to wait for starts. He had to wait until others were unfortunate with injury – but he has stepped up, hasn’t he?”

Now Forest face Bournemouth in what could be the biggest game in two decades, as Forest look to end their 23-year exile from the Premier League.

“We will do what we always do, stick to the plan, recover and prepare for the next game,” said Cooper.

The defeat ended Swansea’s nine-match unbeaten run and head coach Russell Martin was frustrated that his side had undone the good work of their first-half display with a poor second-half showing.

“Our unbeaten run has ended in an embarrassing way,” he said. “I am really disappointed for the supporters who have been incredible all season and did not deserve that.

“I am also disappointed for the players and staff who did not deserve that after the hard work we put in. Set-pieces have been our undoing again today.

“We don’t have a big team at this moment in time and in the second half against Bournemouth and again here today it has shown what we lack in terms of height, power and athleticism.

“We made a mistake for their (first) goal, it should just be cleared, but the response was fantastic and then at half-time we spoke about the importance of set-pieces with the aerial power they have.

“We said our mentality had to be really high, and it wasn’t at all.

“We had undone all our good work within 10 minutes of the second half starting. We made some changes, but in that last half an hour we just didn’t look after each other enough.”

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