Jack the Lad: Forest thrills

11th September 2018

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad has only one game on his mind as Graham Potter's men prepare to face Nottingham Forest this weekend.

How could I let a match against Nottingham Forest here at the Liberty Stadium go by without reminiscing about that magical night here seven years ago?

Of course, I'm talking about that never-to-be-forgotten Championship play-off semi -final against the former European champions. What a night that was.

Seldom can there have been a match which produced so many moments which will be forever seared into the memories of those who were there.

Firstly there was the sight of Leon Britton pulling the Forest defenders one way, the other and back again as he teased them on the edge of the area.

That was followed by the forever-treasured sight of the little genius curling an unstoppable shot into the visitors' net from fully 25 yards.

How fitting that a player who did so much work that was unselfish and went unnoticed by many should have such a stellar goal to look back on in his retirement.

Swans fans will always appreciate Leon for his immeasurable contribution to the club over the entire length of his illustrious career here, but that goal was his ‘Hollywood’ moment.

Then came Stephen Dobbie's run and unerringly accurate drive into the corner of the Forest net to put the home fans into wonderland at 2-0.

And then, right at the end, as Forest – goalkeeper and all – hammered on the Swans' defensive door in search of an equaliser, there was the breakaway from a corner.

Darren Pratley picked the ball up on the edge of his own area and raced up field before looking up at the unguarded goal a full 55 yards away.

Thanks to my position in the West Stand, directly in line with Pratley and the Forest goal, I could see from the moment the ball left his foot it was going to beat the last defender and nestle in the net.

Cue those unforgettable celebrations. As I shot straight up in the air, Pratley took off down the touchline to my left while Swans manager Brendan Rodgers took off and tore town the touchline in the opposite direction to my right.

Rarely can a match-clinching goalscorer and his manager have ended up further apart in celebration. Pratley's run finally came to an end with a pile-on down by the corner of the West and North Stands, while Rodgers was almost 100 yards away near the corner of the West and South Stands.

Meanwhile, everyone in all other points of the ground – except the Forest end – was sent into undiluted delirium.

The celebrations afterwards amongst those in the stands, or rather in the stands and on the pitch – where most people ended up – were amongst the most memorable and noisy I have ever experienced in my 40 years following the Swans.

But something that is often forgotten about that night is what an excellent match it was.

While it was difficult to appreciate at the time with a play-off final at Wembley at stake, it was a cracking game which really could have gone either way.

It had everything, with both sides hitting the woodwork, fantastic goals – including Robert Earnshaw's reply for Forest – and that nerve-shredding finale in which Forest could easily have snatched an equaliser.

If Saturday's clash is anywhere near as good – and has a similar outcome – then the Jack Army will be in for a treat.

C'mon you Swans!