Most die hard Nottingham Forest Fans will have seen so many fantastic games at the City Ground. I don’t think, however, in all my 15 years of following the Reds have I ever seen a game quite like this.
It all came down to 90 minutes of football, Forest had to win and hope that Doncaster slipped up at Cheltenham. It was the final day of the League One season.
Forest started the day in 3rd place and they were playing Yeovil, a team that had ended Forest’s Play-Off hopes the previous season. Even before the Players came out onto the pitch, the whole City Ground was buzzing with excitement knowing that this could be their day that they won Promotion from League One. Forest had after all spent the past three years in that division. It was a Sunny Day at a Packed City Ground and the noise was epic. The Forest players knew that they had to get the job done or risk the Play Offs one more time.
If you think that the Players and Fans were nervous none were more nervous than The BBC Radio Nottingham Sport’s Team Of Robin Chipperfiled, Colin Fray and John McGovern. It was there job to not only commentate on the action but keep all the fans informed on what the score was down at the Cheltenham vs Doncaster Match.
It was a nervous opening 10 minutes or so with both Forest and Yeovil getting some early touches of the ball. In the 12th minute of the match however the breakthrough arrived as Kris Commons planted a beautiful ball into the box . The Yeovil backline cleared the danger only as far as Forest’ Player of the Year, Julian Bennett, who put in a great tackle, that even Stuart Pearce would of been proud off.
Bennett picked up the ball and sent a rocket of a shot into the top left hand corner giving the Yeovil goalkeeper, Steve Mildenhall no chance.
That goal meant so much to Jules, his nickname to the fans, as being a local boy with his family and friends sat in the stands you could see on his face how much it meant too him. It was the perfect start for The Reds.
Jules said after the game:
“That goal was the best that i have ever scored in all of my time playing football, but I loved that tackle almost as well as the goal”
Yeovil came back after 15 minutes as they worked the ball up the pitch through Jaime Peters, who played a one two with Marcus Stewart and calmly walked the ball into the net from six yards out making it 1-1.
Now it truly was game on, Forest however did not have to wait long to restore their lead as Kris Commons was played in by Brett Ormerod and Yeovil were looking for the offside flag that never came. Commons had timed his run to perfection and subsequently slotted the ball under the body of the goalkeeper, making it 2-1 to the reds.
Then came the moment that all Forest fans had been hoping for, at around the same time as Forest were getting back in front, Cheltenham Town were leading Doncaster by a goal to nil. BBC Radio Nottingham’s Reds Commentator was getting the news via his earphones.
Colin Fray BBC Radio Nottingham reds Commentator “Cheltenham 1 Doncaster Nil This Time i can Confirm It” when that score was given out The whole Place cheered as if Forest had scored again.
Forest were 2-1 ahead with over 28 minutes played and had at this moment in time one foot back in the Championship.
Then it got even better for Forest as they went 3-1 ahead thanks to a beautiful free kick by Lewis McGugan. McGugan was brought down 25 yards out from goal and with both himself and Commons standing over the ball there was only going to be one outcome. McGugan stepped up to sent it into the top right hand corner.
Forest were 3-1 ahead and it looked like it was going to be there day despite Doncaster Rovers equalising against Cheltenham.
The Second Half started with Forest attacking the Trent End, as they like to do and with a two goal advantage it seemed that nothing could go wrong. Things started to get even more interesting however as Doncaster went ahead in their game. That meant Rovers were the ones in 2nd Place with Forest in 3rd. It was getting more tense as the second half continued, it seemed that all was lost.
From nowhere, The Robins were able to pull it back to 2-2, meaning that Forest were now back in 2nd place, so it was back to as you were at the start of the half. Forest once more had it in their own hands.
Yeovil seemed to have other ideas and after 75 minutes they got their second after a corner was taken quickly and Marcus Stewart popped up to head in at the near post. With over 15 minutes plus added time left to play Forest knew that they had to hold one to this slender lead.
Colin Fray ” Forest Please Please Please do not let this lead slip now”
They need not have worried however as the best news was to come, after 80 minutes Cheltenham had scored again making it 3-2 to them. As the news was coming through everyone’s radio the Forest Fans went bonkers, It was party time.
With five minutes of added time to play, Forest just had to get past this and they were there and when news came in that the match at Cheltenham had finished it was celebration time for everyone at Forest: the players, the staff and the fans all now knew that Forest had pipped Rovers to second place.
Now it was all down to referee Fred Graham to blow that whistle and after an extra two minutes, he did. Cue the total pitch invasion as fans and player’s alike all celebrated on the pitch .
It was a pitch invasion like no other as everyone danced around on the hallow turf. BBC Radio Nottingham pitch side reporter Robin Chipperfield had a very hard time in trying to get some reaction from the players. He eventually managed to get some in the dressing room.
He spoke to Lewis McGugan after the match and McGugan said:
“This is the most unbeleavable moment of my life to have finally done it. All the players and staff kept going even when the other score were coming in.
“It felt wired at times as it was like, are we up or are we not. It was a rollercoaster of a game and its one that I will never forget in a hurry.”
Forest had done it. They were promoted back to The Championship after three long hard seasons in League One.
We must however give credit to all the Yeovil Fans who stayed behind to clap off the Forest players staff and there family’s on the lap of honour.
It was a game that had everything, the team at BBC Radio Nottingham must also be given plaudits for keeping a cool, calm head when giving out the scores and making sure that everyone was updated.
Its a game that I will never forget in a hurry and I hope that at some point we will see that same kind of atmosphere again, if the EFL Season restarts. We will have to wait and see….