Home Football Awoniyi’s goal helps Nottingham Forest secure EPL survival

Awoniyi’s goal helps Nottingham Forest secure EPL survival


Nottingham Forest were rewarded for their faith in Steve Cooper on Saturday.

This ensured their survival in the English Premier League (EPL) with a thrilling 1-0 victory over Arsenal in their penultimate game of a roller-coaster season.

Super Eagles forward Taiwo Awoniyi scored the game’s only goal against Arsenal to help his club Nottingham Forest secure their Premier League status for another season.

Awoniyi has been excellent for Nottingham Forest in the past few games after returning from an injury that kept him away from the sport for many weeks.

He also bagged a brace in each of their last two games, and now scored the winner against the Gunners to confirm Nottingham Forest’s survival.

“This was always going to be my toughest coaching challenge, but a really enjoyable one, not a negative one,” Cooper said.

Asked what emotions he was feeling, a smiling Cooper told reporters: “All of them and a million other things as well”.

The victory put 16th-placed Nottingham Forest six points clear of the relegation zone with 37 points.

They have one game remaining, against Crystal Palace on May 28, to cap a remarkable first season back in the top-flight in 23 years.

“Really proud of the club, supporters and players and really proud of that performance,” Cooper said.

“We limited them to very little, incredible desire and we got over the line. It was everything we wished for from today. It is what the players and the supporters particularly deserve.”

The 43-year-old manager took Nottingham Forest, two-time European champions, from near the bottom of the Championship last season to earn promotion to the top-flight.

Nottingham Forest thereafter puchased more players than any other club in the English Premier League history.

They used 33 players in the league this season, the most of the 20 clubs.

“I knew coming into the season we would experience everything: wins, losses, good runs and poor runs,” Cooper said.

“I knew we had to be consistent. It was really difficult for the players, a new group put together and to have the spirit we have tells you the characters we have in that dressing room.”

And while other teams near the bottom of the table sacked their managers this season, Nottingham Forest kept their faith in Cooper.

Owner Evangelos Marinakis publicly backed the coach in April, in spite of a poor run of results.

“(I feel) pride,” the manager told a press conference. “Great sense of belonging. Being part of something really special, really important to me.

“It was just a brilliant day for the players, for the supporters, one that we deserved.

“It’s just amazing to be able to continue to allow the club to move forward.”

Saturday’s game was just as pivotal for Arsenal who saw their hopes of a Premier League title officially extinguished.

“I can’t believe we kept a clean sheet,” Cooper said.

“Players have been consistent: win, lose or draw,” he added.

“They’re a really together group that you saw today on the pitch. It was always going to be a game where they had the ball and we had to defend.

“My overriding feeling now is: Let’s get to work. We can take this to the next step.”