at Bramall Lane, Sheffield S2 4SU
FA Cup 5th Round
Sheffield United (0) 3
Conor Coady 66
Chris Porter 90, 90+
Nottingham Forest (1) 1
Jamie Paterson 28
Admission £15, Programme £3
I suppose I should be grateful that I took the precaution of investing in a breakdown cover policy, or the day could've been even worse and a lot more expensive than it actually was.
Surprisingly, given that I frequent Bramall Lane fairly regularly when the teams I'm affiliated to aren't playing, this is only the second Sheffield United game I've seen this season and the previous occasion was only a friendly at Alfreton Town.
0-0 stalemate v Preston North End at the City Ground, which wasn't exactly one of the most entertaining games I've ever been to, if truth be told.
Both of today's teams won their respective replays away from home, to set up this mouthwatering 5th round tie, with the Blades grabbing a dramatic winner in the last minute of extra time at Craven Cottage, to see off their Premier League opponents 1-0, while Forest beat League 1 PNE, 2-0 at Deepdale, the following night.
West Ham United were drubbed 5-0 at the City Ground, a result for which Forest possibly didn't get the credit they deserved, because the Hammers played an allegedly under strength side that afternoon, which 'only' cost approximately 500% more than the full strength one that Billy Davies fielded.
I was at the Forest v Hammers game too (a detour on my way home from Exeter City and Mansfield Town the previous afternoon) and serious allegations have been made about me by a work colleague, that I am developing a fondness for 'the Tricky Trees' of late.
You what!? Not effing likely!
The scene is set then ... and it was a fairly muddy scene in places too.
Sheffield United:Howard; Brayford, Maguire, Collins, Harris (Hill 90); Flynn, Doyle, Coady (McGinn 90), Murphy; Scougall, Baxter (Porter 87).
Unused Subs - Miller, McGinn, Long, Kennedy, De Girolamo.
De Vries; Halford, Lascelles, Collins, Fox; Jara; Majewski (Abdoun 77), Reid, Paterson, Henderson (Djebbour 70), Cox (Mackie 68).
Unused Subs - Darlow, Harding, Greening, Derbyshire.
Sir Tom Finney, one of the greatest players in English football history, who has sadly passed away on Friday, at the age of 91 years old.
It would be fair to say that football is, in essence, a simple game ... and traditional values, overcame the complexities and complicated structure of Forest's game plan.
No nonsense determination and perseverance won the day for the Blades, in this pulsating cup tie, which could've gone either way right up until the last minute.
Two penalty calls, one in each half, both in front of United's Shoreham Street Kop, had a massive bearing on the final outcome, but after controlling much of the first half and having taken a single goal lead in with them at the break, the wheels came off for Forest after the interval and the home side never looked back once Conor Coady capitalised on an error by the visitors keeper Dorus de Vries on 66 minutes, to level the score.
Former Blades player Andy Reid was instrumental in Forest taking control of the battle for midfield, which effectively dictated the pattern of the first half and it wasn't really a surprise that it was Reid who set up the chance that the visitors to took the lead from on 28 minutes, when he whipped an inviting cross into United's penalty area that Jamie Paterson nodded home past Mark Howard with a well directed glancing header.
But with half time approaching, Nigel Clough's side were keeping the Forest advantage down to just that single goal, as the former Forest player plotted how he intended to turn things around in the second half.
The teams left the field at half time, to the vocal strains of "Nigel, what's the score!?", aimed at the Blades manager by 6,000 away fans packed into the Jessica Ennis Stand (AKA Bramall Lane End), as word spread that a second half comeback, could potentially set up a Steel City derby at the Lane, if the Owls manage to overcome Charlton, in their rearranged game that was called off yesterday, due to Hillsborough having a waterlogged pitch.
HT - Blades 0 v Forest 1
Billy Davies's side squeezed United back into their own last third at the beginning of the second half and only a couple of excellent saves from Howard, kept Paterson and Cox at bay.
But then the tide turned and in front of a vociferous home support, the Blades started to cut through the Forest midfield and make some decent forward runs of their own.
John Brayford crossed from the right hand side of the area, Dorus de Vries made a real mess of dealing with the situation and spilled the ball to Conor Coady who took the ball around the grounded keeper and rolled it into the empty net, while a covering defender tumbled over de Vries to add a touch of comedy to the proceedings.
A bare knuckle scrap, on a glue pot pitch, in front of two partisan and noisy sets of supporters.
The ground was literally rocking ... if you could bottle this kind of atmosphere it would be a priceless commodity.
With three minutes to go, the Blades number 9 Chris Porter entered the fray from on the bench.
Evidently, Nigel Clough had decided that his team's best chance of progressing in the cup was here and now, rather than taking their chances in a replay at the City Ground in a fortnight.
What a last throw of the dice Porter turned out to be.
Jamie Murphy broke into the Forest area and squared the ball across the face of goal, where it came off of Greg Halford's arm as the former Blades player attempted to block the cross.
This time Michael Oliver pointed to the penalty spot without hesitation.
Porter stepped up and with just stoppage time remaining, put United ahead for the first time in the game from the spot, with his first touch of the ball..
Forest surrendered possession cheaply from the restart and the Blades swarmed forward again and unbelievably, in an instant, Porter was on the scoresheet again, for the second time in a minute, when Jamie Murphy surged into the box to the left hand byeline and squared the ball to where the Blades 'super sub' was on hand to prod it over the line with his outstretched leg.
There was no way back for Nottingham Forest now and their army of supporters started to swarm out of the ground.
Unable to contain their joy, a large number of Blades fans swarmed onto the pitch to celebrate what will no doubt go down in Bramall Lane folklore as a famous victory.
It was now the turn of United's fans to chant "Nigel what's the score!?"
FT - Sheffield United 3 v Nottingham Forest 1
Nigel Clough said after the game, that the result of his sides away game at Gillingham this coming Wednesday night, was more important to him than this cup win ... and once the dust has settled, he is 100% right, of course.
But that isn't going to stop hordes of Blades fans from going out for a monumental celebration tonight.
It's up to Wednesday now, to step up to the mark and get past Charlton Athletic to set up a Steel City quarter final.
The FA Cup is apparently a diminished competition, that nobody takes seriously any more, but to me, it always was and always will be, the best cup competition in the world.
Today went a long way towards affirming that view.