Match Report: Leeds United 0-0 Nottm Forest - Languid Whites labour to disappointing draw
Tuesday, 2nd Jan 2018 12:03 by @LucasMonk_
On Monday, in their inaugural fixture of 2018, a languid Leeds United laboured to a deeply dispiriting goalless draw at home to managerless Nottingham Forest.
Leeds United entered their home fixture against managerless Nottingham Forest, who had relieved Mark Warburton of his managerial duties only the previous day, as overwhelming favourites, but a dogged performance on the part of the determined visitors, under the temporary tutelage of Gary Brazil, ensured that a dour duel failed to produce a victor.
United head coach Thomas Christiansen made two alterations to the starting lineup that succumbed to an unprecedented and thoroughly ignominious defeat to Birmingham City in Leeds’ last fixture; Conor Shaughnessy and Paweł Cibicki were replaced by Eunan O’Kane and Samuel Sáiz respectively.
Notwithstanding their barren sequence of recent results, the visitors made a sprightly start to the match and United’s Liam Cooper had an attentive sliding challenge elicited from him in the eighth minute after Forest’s Ben Brereton alacritously raced through on goal.
Soon thereafter, a steadily improving Leeds came agonisingly close to opening the scoring through Pontus Jansson, whose towering header from a Pablo Hernández corner was cleared off the line by a vigilant Kieran Dowell before Kemar Roofe lashed the ball impetuously over the crossbar with an acrobatic effort.
The first period seldom saw either team manufacture conspicuous opportunities to establish an advantage, and the sides thus departed the field at the half-time interlude with the match goalless.
In the second half, Kalvin Phillips was first to chance his arm for the hosts, firing narrowly over the crossbar from outside the opposing penalty area in the 54th minute. Merely a minute later, and United would finesse for themselves the clearest opening of the contest.
After swivelling on a sixpence and leaving former Leeds midfielder Liam Bridcutt trailing in his wake by expeditiously surging upfield, Sáiz passed for the profligate Roofe, whose wild effort ricocheted off the crossbar and away from goal.
The hosts refused to relent in their pursuance of the opening goal and threatened again in the 58th minute, but Roofe selfishly spurned an opportunity after a brisk United counterattack after not deigning to pass the ball.
Forest, who last emerged victorious from an away game in October, scarcely looked as though they would inflict upon their hosts a second defeat in succession, but Leeds’ goalkeeper, Felix Wiedwald, produced an excellent save to divert a deflected shot on the part of Ben Osborn over the crossbar in the 66th minute.
The visitors ventured forth once more two minutes later. An incisive interchange of passes between Matty Cash and Eric Lichaj culminated in the former crossing for Dowell, who could only direct a pusillanimous effort straight at Wiedwald before Jansson cleared the ball.
With the game’s conclusion fast approaching, the home side continued to diligently pursue what surely would have been a decisive goal. In the 83rd minute, the irrepressible Sáiz wriggled away from both Bridcutt and substitute Mustapha Carayol before passing for Hernández inside the penalty area; Hernández fired a low effort toward goal, but visiting goalkeeper Jordan Smith reacted attentively to deny the Spaniard a fifth goal of the season.
Smith would be made to make a further two saves in order to ensure his team’s registering of an invaluable point away from home in the 86th and 90th minute respectively. First, Eunan O’Kane passed for United substitute Hadi Sacko on the right, with the latter subsequently crossing the ball for fellow substitute Pierre-Michel Lasogga, whose timorous header was gratefully saved by Smith. Second, Lasogga regained possession for Leeds before surging into the Forest penalty area and electing to shoot, only for his drive effort from an acute angle to be saved by the goalkeeper with appreciable comfort.
The result sees Leeds fall into sixth position ahead of their visit to Rodney Parade to do battle with Newport County in the FA Cup on Sunday - a match that shall be televised by the BBC - following Aston Villa’s comprehensive 5-0 defeat of Bristol City at Villa Park on Monday evening.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1) - Wiedwald; Ayling (Anita 26’), Jansson, Cooper, Berardi; O’Kane, Phillips; Alioski (Lasogga 45’), Sáiz, Hernández; Roofe (Sacko 80’).
Unused Substitutes: Lonergan, Shaughnessy, Klich, Cibicki.
Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1) - Smith; Lichaj, Worrall, Mancienne, Traore; Bridcutt, Osborn; Cash, Dowell, McKay (Carayol 75’); Brereton (Walker 80’).
Unused Substitutes: Henderson, Fox, Vaughan, Bouchalakis, Clough.
Half-Time: Leeds United 0-0 Nottingham Forest
Full-Time: Leeds United 0-0 Nottingham Forest
Match Statistics (Leeds / Nottm Forest)
Possession: 51% / 49%
Attempts: 19 / 7
On Target: 7 / 1
Pass Success: 75% / 73%
Aerial Duels: 50% / 50%
Corners: 2 / 8
Fouls: 14 / 11
Booked: Jansson, Sáiz (Leeds), Lichaj, Carayol (Forest).
Man of the Match: Samuel Sáiz (Leeds).
Venue: Elland Road (capacity of 37,890).
Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire).
After what was a profoundly disenchanting result against Birmingham City prior to this match, the players, supporters and management of Leeds United were doubtless hopeful of securing a crucial victory against a managerless Nottingham Forest.
In lieu of meekly succumbing to defeat, the Reds came to Elland Road with a clear stratagem under Gary Brazil and were at pains to keep an ample number of players behind the ball at all times. Despite this, a clearly languid United still manufactured enough conspicuous opportunities to win the match but were only able to register a draw owing to their flagrant profligacy in front of goal.
The result is a most disappointing one for Leeds, who appear to have been enervated by the frenetic nature of the festive period and the sheer volume of matches that they have contested recently, but it is also a fair one. To their credit, the visitors produced a competent performance and occasionally threatened on the periphery. United’s most stellar performer on the day was indubitably Samuel Sáiz, who played an integral role in fashioning the opportunities spurned by Kemar Roofe and Pablo Hernández in the second period in another alacritous display.
After the match, head coach Thomas Christiansen was typically equivocal when asked about the club’s intentions for the transfer window, but did intimate to BBC Radio Leeds that Sunday’s match away to Newport County in the FA Cup will herald a plethora of alterations to the starting lineup that laboured to a draw in this fixture.
The period of convalescence that Christiansen will likely afford his players ahead of their next Championship fixture - which is away to Ipswich Town next Saturday - shall doubtless produce benginant effects, but, in the view of this verbose scribe at least, there is a clear exigency for reinforcements at Elland Road that must be satiated if Leeds are fulfill their pre-season aspirations of finishing with the play-off positions.
Photo: Action Images
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