Paul Heckingbottom praises Sheffield United - once they got over their fear factor at Nottingham Forest

Paul Heckingbottom was pleased with his his Sheffield United team played at Nottingham Forest once they shook the fear out of their game.

The Blades were comfortably second best in the opening half, when Forest took the lead through Taiwo Awoniyi's header opened the scoring after three minutes.

But when Gustavo Hamer equalised at a similar point of the second half, it seemed to make them believe that they could compete with Steve Cooper's side.

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Nobody could argue that Forest deserved their 2-1 victory, but it took their extra firepower from the bench to secure it, £15m Chris Wood coming on to score a late winner when the only strikers the Blades had been able to introduce were Andre Brooks and Antwoine Hackford – two teenagers without a league start between them.

"For the first 20 minutes we were second best, made the mistake that leads to the (opening) goal," said Heckingbottom.

"We know it's a tough place to come but we want to be a team that plays with no fear. I thought we showed a bit of fear to start with.

"When we were brave and passed the ball, I thought we got some control in the game. That then allowed us to get up the pitch.

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"After that I was really pleased with what I saw, the energy to take the ball and I thought as the game wore on we got better and better.

MIXED FEELINGS: Sheffield United manager Paul HeckingbottomMIXED FEELINGS: Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom
MIXED FEELINGS: Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom

"It's a frustrating one in terms of the results because we've got no points, I understand why, but it's really important in particular the players who've come into the club understand when I say how we want to play.

"We were good (in the second half). There was lots in the squad that I'm happy with.

"But regardless of how much I felt we were on top in moments, we still didn't give the three centre-backs of Forest give enough work."

Vinicius Souza and Benie Traore came off with cramp.

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Forest manager Steve Cooper was pleased his side got their first victory of 2023-24.

"It's always important to get your first win of the season," he reflected.

"Not just because we scored I thought we started the game really well, we were excellent and dominant.

"If anything, we should have been a little bit more ruthless in making it more comfortable.

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"I didn't like the complacency inthe last 15 minutes of the half.

"Half-time came at a good time to rev the lads up a bit, good as they were for 30 minutes, but it seeped into the second half.

"We regrouped and I thought the last 30 minutes of the game we were by far the superior team again.

"We were the better team and deserved to win but I really liked the attitude of the team and I was really pleased for Woody to score a really good goal."