Preston North End face a very different Nottingham Forest under Steve Cooper

Seven weeks ago Nottingham Forest made the call to bring in Steve Cooper as their new manager at the City Ground.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 4:45 pm

It is certainly looking to be a wise choice, the 41-year-old having quickly turned Forest’s fortunes around for the better.

The axe fell on Chris Hughton in September after a miserable opening spell to the season which saw them lose six and draw one of their first seven Championship games.

In their sights was Cooper, who had left Swansea City by mutual consent in pre-season and who had been linked with the Crystal Palace job over the summer.

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Forest’s Djed Spence (left) and Sheffield United’s Ben Osborn battle for the ball in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw

Under Cooper, Forest’s record is four wins, three draws and one defeat.

It is on the back of two of those draws that Forest get ready to welcome North End to the City Ground tomorrow.

Both those draws, at Queens Park Rangers last Friday night and then in Tuesday’s home clash with Sheffield United, featured late goals.

Forest equalised in the 90th minute against QPR with a Jack Colback deflected shot to earn a 1-1 draw.

In midweek, Lewis Grabban levelled with 83 minutes played after the Blades had taken the lead a few minutes earlier.

So something there for the Lilywhites to be aware of in their pre-match planning.

Cooper was content in the end with the point against Sheffield United.

The former England youth coach said: “There were some moments which could have gone our way, and a bit of luck which we didn’t quite get. But it was a tough game.

“Sheffield United are a good team, who are highly resourced and have a lot of players who have applied themselves well in the Premier League.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game because a lot of resource has gone into that team, and you could see the calibre of player they had.

“They had too much of the ball in the first half, but never really threatened.

“They weren’t peppering the goal, in fact they weren’t peppering the box. We were in control tactically.

“I like games like that, where you have to think about tactics and some of the oppositional play.

“I thought we did better with the ball in the second half.

“They scored a good goal, then we scored a good goal. They were similar sort of moves, getting down the sides with good crosses.

“And then I thought if any team was going to win it, I thought it was going to be us because we looked fitter, stronger and more confident in the end.”

Grabban’s equaliser on Tuesday night was his sixth league goal of the season, with him Forest’s leading scorer.

Cooper is working with a squad he inherited, the window having shut well before his appointment.

Djed Spence secured on loan from Middlesbrough looks a great piece of summer business, with Forest also having tempted back midfielder James Garner from Manchester United.