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Boss Paul Heckingbottom urges Blades to deliver ‘massive momentum swing’

Paul Heckingbottom’s Sheffield United side take on Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night (Martin Rickett/PA)
Paul Heckingbottom’s Sheffield United side take on Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night (Martin Rickett/PA)

Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom has told his players to make sure they are the ones making the headlines at the end of their Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

The Blades go into the second leg at the City Ground on Tuesday night with a huge job on their hands, trailing 2-1 from Saturday’s first meeting at Bramall Lane, but Sander Berge’s late goal has given them hope.

The South Yorkshire side have come from behind to win on four occasions this season and Heckingbottom wants them to inspire another momentum swing.

“Forest are in the limelight and that’s been the narrative of the leg, they’re at home, one foot at Wembley if you like and a lot of people are talking about the season they’ve had,” Heckingbottom told a press conference.

“It’s our job to make sure they’re talking about us afterwards.

“There’s already been massive swings in momentum and there will be some more on Tuesday night – and hopefully it swings our way at the end.

“What have we got to lose? We’ve been in this position from day one, chasing, so it’s no different to us.”

Forest have one of the best home records in the division and have not lost a league game at home in 2022, their only defeat on home turf coming in a 1-0 FA Cup loss to Liverpool in March.

United are looking to bounce straight back following their relegation last season, while Forest have been absent from the top flight since 1999, and Heckingbottom emphasised that it remained only the halfway point of the contest.

He said: “It’s half-time and we’ve had a three-day team talk at half-time, if you like.

“Sometimes you’re behind and you’ve only got 45 minutes, we’re behind and we’ve got 90 minutes.

“I know we’d rather be winning 2-1 than losing, but we know there’s nothing to fear, it’s about us to perform and we have to do really well against a good side and try to turn it around.

“We’ve been behind away from home, we’ve been here before so we’ve just got to go and win, that’s it.”

There were 32 shots on goal in the first leg as both sides looked to gain the advantage, a far cry from the cagey affairs of many play-off ties.

And Heckingbottom expects more of the same from the second leg.

“Looking at our team and their team I can’t see it being different,” he said.

“We know what their threat is, they’ve got some good players, they play forwards and we need to be set up in a better way to deal with that and recognise we’re up against a good side.

“In terms of moments having the ball, we’ll have moments and need to be good enough and brave enough in that final third to take the chances that we create.”