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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 21:23 GMT 22:23 UK
Blades overcome brave Forest
The Sheffield United camp celebrate their win over Nottingham Forest which sets up a Division One play-off final showdown with Wolves at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff
Johnson puts Forest into the lead at Bramall Lane
Sheffield United 4-3 Nottingham Forest (after extra-time - agg. 5-4)

Sheffield United booked their place in the Division One play-off final with an extra-time winner in an enthralling victory over a gutsy Nottingham Forest.

David Johnson put Forest ahead and Andy Reid added a second for the visitors just before the hour mark.

But the Blades showed their resilience and character by pulling back to level terms with goals from Michael Brown and Steve Kabba.

There was no away goals rule to come into force and the tighly contested tie went into extra-time.

A Paul Peschisolido effort and a Des Walker own goal put the home side 4-2 up on the night only for Robert Page's own goal at the other end to give Forest hope with a late goal.

But United held on for the win and a final place against Wolves at the Millennium Stadium.

The two teams headed into the match on level terms after a 1-1 draw in the first leg and there was little to separate them in the reverse tie.

30 mins: Johnson puts Forest ahead
58: Andy Reid doubles Forest's lead
60: Brown pulls one back for the Blades
68: Kabba's volley levels matters
112: Peschosolido puts the Blades ahead
117: Forest's Walker scores a own goal
119: Blades skipper Page scores an own goal

Sheffield United had the better of the early chances with Dean Windass spurning two chances in the first 20 minutes.

The first came his way after Forest keeper Darren Ward palmed a Michael Tonge cross towards the far post where Windass could not get the right contact to divert the ball in.

Windass had his appeals for a penalty following a Walker challenge turned down after 17 minutes before getting a second chance on goal.

A Robert Page flick-on from a long throw found him unmarked at the far post but Windass directed his header straight into the grateful arms of keeper Ward.

Blades free-scoring midfielder Michael Brown shot narrowly wide before Forest striker Johnson put his side ahead after 30 minutes.

Johnson was gifted possession by home defender John Curtis and punished the mistake by emphatically shooting past a wrong-footed Paddy Kenny in the United goal.

Phil Jagielka (left) twice crucially blocked Nottingham Forest striker David Johnson's shots
Jagielka (left) twice crucially blocked Johnson shots

Windass had an effort deflected wide but Marlon Harewood should have added Forest's second but angled a shot agonisingly wide.

Blades boss Neil Warnock replaced Windass with Kabba at half-time but it was Forest who went closest after the break.

Reid gave a warning of his goalscoring threat by shooting wide before putting Forest two goals up with a far post volley from a Mathieu Louis-Jean cross.

But United immediately won a free-kick just outside the Forest area and Michael Brown's strike went in via a deflection from Walker, whose foul on Carl Asaba resulted in the set piece.

Walker was then left dazzled as Kabba flicked a long ball up before volleying it past Forest keeper Ward from 15 yards to level matters in a pulsating contest.

Sheffield United right-back Phil Jagielka produced a crucial last-ditch tackle to block a Johnson shot after 82 minutes while Ward spilled an Asaba shot before gathering.

The match went into extra-time and the first half was a cagey affair before Jagielka produced another important block to deny Johnson at the start of the second period.

Substitute Peschosolido then put the Blades ahead for the first time with a mazy run and shot before a Walker own goal extended their lead.

But Page's own goal ensured a tense finish but the Blades held out for the win.

Sheff Utd: Kenny, Curtis, Jagielka, Page, Kozluk, Ndlovu, Rankine, Brown, Tonge, Asaba, Windass. Subs: McCall, Montgomery, Peschisolido, Allison, Kabba.

Nottm Forest: Ward, Louis-Jean, Williams, Walker, Brennan, Thompson, Scimeca, Huckerby, Reid, Johnson, Harewood. Subs: Hjelde, Lester, Bopp, Jess, Roche.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire)

BBC Five Live's John Murray
"This match will be remembered as a play-off classic"

Sheff Utd boss Neil Warnock
"I don't think my lads know when they're beaten"



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