Nottingham Forest look to make it third time lucky at Wembley play-off final

Nottingham Forest look to make it third time lucky at Wembley play-off final

The arch of Wembley
Pictured is the arch of Wembley. Photo: Paul Brown / Alamy

Nottingham Forest will face Huddersfield Town at Wembley on Sunday in the Championship play-off final.

Beating Sheffield United over two legs meant Steve Cooper is the first man to ever take the Nottingham club to the new Wembley.

Reaching the playoffs, in general, has been a fading memory for the Reds after two top-six finishes in 12 years before the 2021-22 campaign kicked off.

The trip to London will be a brand-new experience for those concerned with the East Midlands side. The last man to try their luck at taking Forest up was Billy Davies, who had two attempts in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Hope and anticipation were the common thoughts of everyone at Forest after the conclusion of 2009-10.

It was a strong season for Forest, who felt confident facing a Blackpool side that just made it into the play-offs on the final day. The Lancashire club included Charlie Adam and Seamus Coleman.

Forest and Davies were planning their route to Wembley once Chris Cohen opened the scoring at Bloomfield Road. The Tricky Trees, however, were rocketed right back down to earth on the way back down the M6 after the full-time whistle. Goals from Keith Southern and Adam meant Forest were heading into the second leg 2-1 down.

Despite being one goal down from the Saturday in Blackpool, the fixture under the lights on the following Tuesday night left Reds fans with fire in their belly. The confidence of reaching Wembley for the first time was alive.

Despite going 1-0 up through Robert Earnshaw inside 10 minutes, Blackpool took control of the tie in the second half. A hat-trick from DJ Campbell and a strike from Stephen Dobbie cancelled out any kind of comeback, even after Earnshaw levelled the tie with a second goal at 3-3. Blackpool went on to win the playoffs after defeating Cardiff City 3-2.

One year later Forest and Davies were back after finishing three places lower in sixth at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season. A tie with Swansea City was set up for a chance of Premier League football.

Forest were playing the home leg first this time around. The 3-1 home win against Swansea in September was a huge confidence booster going into the play-offs. Cagey and tight were words to describe the fixture in Nottingham. A 0-0 draw left it all to play for in South Wales.

It was heartbreak once again for Forest after losing 3-1 in Wales. Leon Britton and Stephen Dobbie, a goalscorer for Blackpool against Forest in the play-offs the previous season, took the hosts into a 2-0 lead at half-time. Earnshaw provided for Forest again but a late goal from Darren Pratley confirmed their ticket to the English capital. The side from Wales went on to win the play-offs after defeating Reading 4-2 at New Wembley.

11 years on and Nottingham Forest have bettered any previous attempt to reach the Premier League. The chance to play top-flight football is all set on Sunday. It will be one of the biggest dates in the club’s history.