EPL

Steve Cooper praised his Forest players for focusing on the task at hand

By Sports Desk December 09, 2023

Boss Steve Cooper praised his battling Nottingham Forest side for ignoring the “sideshow” of his future to claim a point at Wolves.

Cooper was reportedly on the brink of the sack after Wednesday’s 5-0 mauling at Fulham but Forest earned a 1-1 draw at Molineux.

Matheus Cunha cancelled out Harry Toffolo’s opener and Toffolo missed a golden second-half chance to win it.

It was a deserved point and Cooper, celebrating his 44th birthday on Sunday, was cheered off by the visiting fans at full-time.

He said: “I’m not going to lose sight of how much progress we have made, regardless what people want to write. I stay true to myself, represent the club and the city in the best way and stay on task.

“I’ve been here before. It doesn’t go into my mind, the only thing is the hurt after Fulham and how can we put a little bit of that right? The only thing which is important to me is the continued progression of the club. There’s no one person more important.

“I’m really proud of the team, the spirit, togetherness. If you look at the game in isolation, satisfying and fairly positive. If you add into the sideshows which might be going on – especially after Fulham – the players had two ways, to play with fear and hide, or to play with spirt, personality and quality.

“I said to the players just keep going, we know who we are. There will be ups and downs, we’ve had a few too many recently. It will be a rocky road, I believe we will progress this year.

“In normal circumstances it would be a positive day in terms of performance away from home but we’re disappointed with the chances we’ve missed and not winning the game.

“I’m really disappointed with the throw-in decision before their goal, it couldn’t be any worse of a basic human error. They need to do better.”

Toffolo gave Forest the lead after 14 minutes when he headed in Neco Williams’ excellent cross, despite Craig Dawson’s best attempts to clear off the line.

But the visitors failed to build on their lead and allowed Wolves a route back. The hosts dominated first-half possession and found a way through after 32 minutes.

A penetrating move saw Nelson Semedo and Mario Lemina combine to slip in Pablo Sarabia. He cut the ball back for the arriving Cunha to roll in his fifth goal of the season.

Forest would have gone into the break ahead if Cheikhou Kouyate had not shot too close to Jose Sa, after seizing on Max Kilman’s mistake.

The visitors emerged for the second half with more intent and Toffolo should have won it after 69 minutes but headed Williams’ cross over from close range.

Forest still needed Matt Turner to save from Cunha as Wolves extended their own unbeaten home run to six games.

“It would have been a real catastrophe if we hadn’t sealed a point at least,” said boss Gary O’Neil, with Wolves 12th in the Premier League.

“It was a tough game, to go 1-0 down against a team who were here to play very deep. It played into their hands. We responded pretty well and scored a really good goal.

“In the second half we lost our way probably. I leave slightly disappointed, we were trying to get more and we didn’t manage to test them as much as I’d have liked.

“Four points from the three games this week is a good return and 19 points so far is also a good return.”

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