NOTTINGHAM FOREST 5-1 SWANSEA: Sam Surridge hits hat-trick as Steve Cooper’s side keep pressure on Bournemouth in dramatic race for promotion to the Premier League… as Cyrus Christie scores BIZARRE own goal
- Nottingham Forest swept aside Swansea to keep promotion hopes alive
- Sam Surridge scored a hat-trick after a bizarre own goal from Cyrus Christie
- Steve Cooper’s Forest are three points behind Bournemouth with two games left
- Forest travel to face Bournemouth in a crunch clash on Tuesday
Nottingham Forest set up a blockbuster promotion showdown away to Bournemouth on Tuesday night as they thrillingly disposed of Steve Cooper’s former club Swansea.
Sam Surridge, the striker deputising for injured duo Keinan Davis and Lewis Grabban, stepped up again with a second half hat-trick to make it five goals in four games, seal the three points and match Bournemouth’s win at Blackburn.
The chant emanating around the City Ground was emphatic: ‘AFC Bournemouth, we’re coming for you,’ and that is how it has felt in the promotion race.
Sam Surridge scored a second-half hat-trick to fire Nottingham Forest to victory over Swansea
Forest went ahead through Cyrus Christie’s bizarre own goal midway through the first half
Bournemouth are three points clear of Forest in second before they play each other next week
The Cherries have been up there all season, while Forest are on the charge having handicapped themselves by starting the campaign with one point from seven games before Cooper’s arrival.
The margin between them is just three points with the East Midlands club now having a better goal difference. Yet Forest know that victories on the South Coast and away to Hull next Saturday lunchtime, would almost certainly secure that second automatic promotion spot and a return to the Premier League after 23 years.
And they will go into their biggest week for years full of confidence, having picked up 45 points from their 19 Championship games since January – easily promotion form.
With cricket taking place in the genteel surrounds of Trent Bridge over the road, there was a stark contrast amidst the sea of red in a fevered atmosphere.
Surridge was in superb form after the break as Forest ran riot against a hapless Swansea
James Garner continues to impress at Forest after joining on loan from Manchester United
Forest’s players responded and launched an assault on the Swansea goal from the off with Surridge denied by Andy Fisher and Philipp Zinckernagel’s follow-up hitting Ryan Manning on the goalline.
Surridge had missed another chance, before nerves were calmed as the hosts went in front as Cyrus Christie put Djed Spence’s dangerous low cross into his own net.
Referee Graham Scott had signalled a penalty and a red card for the Swans defender for handball as he tried in vain to keep the ball out, but TV replays and a bit of common sense meant the end result was a goal and a yellow.
However, the lead lasted just six minutes as Swansea crafted a fine equaliser, worthy of their desire to play football at any cost. Matt Grimes spotted Michael Obafemi with a fine pass and the on-loan Southampton striker’s touch and calm finish were Premier League quality.
Forest would have been in front again by half-time but the heroics of Swans goalkeeper Fisher, as he made a trio of outstanding saves from Joe Worrall, Surridge and Ryan Yates.
But the dam burst after half-time and it was Surridge, the ex-Bournemouth man who arrived for £2 million from Stoke on deadline day in January, who reaped the rewards.
Alex Mighten scored the fifth to put the seal on a superb afternoon for Steve Cooper’s side
Cooper will take his Forest team to Bournemouth for a mouthwatering clash on Tuesday
First, he headed in James Garner’s corner and then curled home from Garner’s pass to round off a flowing counter attack.
And the hat-trick arrived when he turned home at the back post after Spence’s deflected cross had come off the bar.
There was still time for substitute Alex Mighten to come on and grab a fifth to further help the goal difference as all eyes turn towards that mouth-watering game at the Vitality Stadium.