The attacking midfielder, who helped shoot down the Reds at the same stage 12 months ago while on loan at Blackpool, was the man sacrificed after just four minutes of a goalless first leg at the City Ground last Thursday following Neil Taylor’s dismissal.
But he proved worth his weight in gold – or at least the estimated £90m windfall for the team promoted to the Barclays Premier League on May 30 – in an open and electrifying encounter at a sold-out Liberty Stadium.
David McGoldrick and Fabio Borini had already hit the crossbar at either end before Dobbie’s short corner set up Leon Britton for a stunning 28th-minute opener. The Scot then added a well-worked second shortly after to give battling Forest a mountain to climb.
Lewis McGugan’s free-kick smacked the woodwork before former Cardiff striker Robert Earnshaw threw Forest an 80th-minute lifeline. After Earnshaw dramatically hit a post in stoppage time, Darren Pratley sealed victory by finishing from inside his own half after Forest goalkeeper Lee Camp had gone up for a corner.
It is the East Midlands’ side’s fourth failed play-off attempt in nine seasons and a fourth for manager Billy Davies since 2005 having missed out twice with Preston and now Forest.
The Swans, 28 years after their only brief spell in England’s top flight, are looking to complete an astonishing six-year rise from the fourth tier and could face a Wembley showdown with South Wales rivals Cardiff, who face Reading in the other semi-final tonight.
Cardiff manager Dave Jones is sweating on the fitness of Craig Bellamy ahead of tonight’s second leg, after he limped off after only 17 minutes of Friday’s goalless first leg at the Madejski Stadium.
Jones, who is also concerned over the fitness of two other unnamed players, said: “We’ll leave it as late as possible. Craig’s still got a chance and we’ll look at him again (today).
“He came off as quickly as he could get off so we’ll just wait and see.”