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Steve Cooper Insists He Has Nothing To Celebrate Yet . . . As Neco Williams Ends Up In Hospital

By David Williams

Steve Cooper insists Nottingham Forest still have work to do after they moved out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 3-1 win over Brighton.

The Welsh manager has boosted his hopes of retaining Forest’s status in the top flight with a huge three points.

Forest were on a seemingly irreversible slide back to the Championship after a horror run of 11 games without a victory going back to February, but they stopped the rot at the City Ground.

Another defeat had been on the cards after the Seagulls went ahead through Facundo Buonanotte’s goal on his first Premier League start after Brennan Johnson had missed an early penalty for Forest.

But an own goal by Pascal Gross on the stroke of half-time followed by second-half efforts from Danilo and Morgan Gibbs-White gave them a vital win.

The relegation battle looks like going to the wire, with six clubs realistically in the fight, and Cooper knows this victory does not count for anything if they cannot back it up.

“Delighted, the result is always the most important thing but definitely at this moment in time,” Cooper said.

“There were loads of positives, but it is a good win, you have to enjoy them until we leave the dressing room and drive out because we have got another game on Saturday and we have to be really ready for it. We have to be ready for Brentford.

“We have to look after ourselves, if you get the results you need things will take care of themselves with league position. We managed to get the win tonight. Let’s try and improve it again on Saturday and that has to be the only thing we are thinking about.

“I’m over the moon, I’m so pleased for the players and the supporters, but we haven’t won for months and I don’t think we can win a game and celebrate too much.

“I was walking off the pitch thinking about getting ready for Brentford. We have got a lot of work to do and I want everybody in tomorrow working even harder than they did today. That has to be the mentality.”

Cooper confirmed that Neco Williams had been taken to hospital after a sickening clash with team-mate Johnson in the second half.

He said: “I had a look when he came off and I saw blood so fingers crossed it is not too bad, his health comes first regardless of results.”

Brighton were looking to bounce back from the heart-breaking FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United, but this loss hurt their European ambitions as they dropped to eighth, although they do have games in hand on the teams above them.

Boss Roberto De Zerbi said his threadbare squad ran out of energy after a bright opening.

“We deserved to lose the game, we played well for the first 35 minutes in the first half and then we lost energy,” the Italian said.

“We didn’t change too many players from Wembley, we knew it was a very tough game, we could have scored more goals in that 35 minutes and then we lost the spirit and energy.

“It’s a difficult period for us because we are not used to playing three games in a week but we have to use it because we will play eight games and we have to fight to reach our target.

“For sure I am honest and I don’t want to speak in this way when we lose the game. I am proud for my players today when we lost the game.”

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