Nottingham Forest secured 30 of their 38 points at home last season and the City Ground will ultimately prove the difference again in their second campaign.

With expectations rising and fireworks shooting up into the night sky after the final whistle, Steve Cooper’s next challenge will be to build on the last 12 months and keep this club in the division again. Forest are embarking on only their second Premier League campaign in 24 years and the message from Cooper has been clear: everything needs to be better this time around.

This was a hard-fought yet ultimately deserved victory, with substitute Chris Wood’s thumping header a minute from time extending the feel-good factor at this famous old stadium.

After escaping relegation by just four points last season, Forest are determined to avoid another anxious end to this campaign.
Cooper said: “We played the real football in the game, the real tactical ideas. In the end we’ve scored two really good goals.
“It’s important to get the first win of the season and that was the main objective. When we start a game like that we should show more ruthlessness to make it more comfortable than it was. Maybe we don’t win that last year so hopefully that’s progress.”

Twelve months after last summer’s record-breaking splash on transfers, there has been less activity at Forest this time with the future of Wales international Brennan Johnson dominating the agenda. Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and Brentford are all interested in signing the homegrown forward and a sale before the transfer deadline remains a possibility.

Forest are insistent that they will consider offers over £50 million and their resolve is certain to be tested within the next fortnight.
One of last year’s new recruits, Taiwo Awoniyi, has improved dramatically under the guidance of Cooper and was in the right place here to secure his second goal of the season. He has scored in the past six games stretching back to last term and has emerged as the unlikely talisman. Awoniyi’s goal capped a memorable week in which his wife gave birth to a baby boy.

It has proven a tumultuous summer for Sheffield United following their return to this division, yet there was much encouragement for Paul Heckingbottom despite a second successive defeat.

After a number of key players departed this summer, Heckingbottom will certainly have his work cut out and some cynics have even insisted that Derby’s record low points total of 11 in 2008 may have some competition.

At half-time here at the City Ground, those cynics were revelling after an alarming 45 minutes from Heckingbottom’s team as Nottingham Forest dominated.

United did respond in the second half, with a fine equaliser from new £15 million signing Gustavo Hamer, and there was enough room for optimism. It does not promise to get any easier, however, with the visit of champions Manchester City to Bramall Lane next Sunday.

Heckingbottom said: “It’s a difficult one to take because we’ve got no points. I understand why but it’s important that the new players who have come in know what we’re trying to do. There’s lots in the squad already that I’m happy with and we need to add to it. I can’t be scared by the fact that we need firepower at the top of the pitch. We’re not flush but there’s a commitment to get players in.”