|Leeds United 1 v 1 Nottingham Forest|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 10th August 2019 Kick-off 12:30
Leeds held to frustrating draw by Forest
Saturday, 10th Aug 2019 18:41 by Tim Whelan
Leeds dominated the possession for most of the game against Nottingham Forest, but only to suffer the familiar problem of failing to make it all count by putting the ball in the back of the net.
Leeds came into this game in a confident mood after the excellent victory at Bristol City, and that result prompted Marcello Bielsa to name an unchanged starting eleven. Of our two new loan signings, Illan Meslier was on the bench, but there was no place yet for Eddie Nketiah, who apparently needs a bit of work on the training ground to learn the Bielsa way.
Forest were undoubtedly a bit more nervous after their opening day home defeat at the hands of WBA, but Sabri Lamouchi had got them well disciplined and working hard to get behind the ball. You could tell that he thought a draw would be a good result for them in one of their most difficult fixtures of the season.
After a tentative start Leeds began to exert a bit more pressure as the first half went on, and Forest started to find it increasingly difficult to get out of their own penalty area. We had a shout for a penalty early on as Forshaw lost his balance after a slight contact from a defender, but there wasn’t enough in it for the referee to point to the spot.
But the chances began to come, with one effort from Phillips turned round the post by Muric, though in truth the shot lacked the power to cause the keeper any serious difficulty. Douglas had a shot blocked by Semedo as he worked his way into the box, and Bamford had a shot smothered by Muric from a narrow angle.
The Forest keeper had been criticised for his performance at set pieces in their first game, so we might have hoped to profit from the series of corners we forced late in the half. But quite a few of them were overhit, with one finding Cooper unmarked but coming to high for our central defender to make any decent contact, so he sent it just wide.
There was one anxious moment for Leeds before the break, as Phillips launched into another of his scissor tackles, catching Silva but thankfully without causing the Forest man any serious damage. That might have been the factor that led the referee to decide that a yellow card was sufficient punishment, but the way the laws are interpreted these days Phillips must have come quite close to a red.
Leeds continued to dominate after the break, with Harrison causing Forest problems down the left flank. One of his crossed created a chance for Bamford, but a defender had got a crucial touch on the cross, sending it looping in the air to an awkward height for our striker to control. He manged to knock it into the ground, but agonisingly it bounced up onto the bar with Muric well beaten.
And Bamford had another chance when Muric came well off his line to meet through ball (has he been watching Casilla?) and Bamford spotted the opportunity to lob it over the keeper’s head. That was the right idea, but although he sent it clear of the keeper’s grasp it also went wide of the far post.
But we finally took the lead in the 59th minute after Bamford set up Kilch to send Hernadez through on goal and the little Spanish maestro made no mistake in slotting the ball past Muric into the far corner. The was a claim that Bamford’s heel was very slightly offside when the ball was played forward at the start of the move, so we might need be thankful that we don’t yet have VAR in the Championship.
At that stage it looked like we would go on to secure a comfortable win, but the goal finally stirred Forest into a bit of life to go in search of an equaliser. There was a moment of danger when Dawson met the ball from a corner, but sent his powerful header just over the bar. At the other end we had our best shout for a penalty when Dallas was caught by a defender as both stretched for a high ball, but again there was nothing doing.
And there was another moment of controversy in the move that ultimately led to Forest’s scrappy equaliser, as Grabban pushed Cooper to the floor off the ball when they broke upfield. The ball was played out for a corner, and from it Grabban was able to bundle the ball over the line off his chest, despite the efforts of three Leeds players to keep it out.
This caused the Forest fans to wake up at long last, though their chant of “Leeds are falling apart again” was a bit of an exaggeration. But it has to be said that there was a lot of moaning going on in the home stands as our frustration started to grow.
Bielsa made several changes as we tried to get back in front in the closing stages. The first might have been enforced, as Harrison seemed to have been struggling with a knock before he was replaced by Alioski. Klich had been fairly quiet, so Costa was sent on for the last ten minutes, with Hernandez moving inside.
The final sub saw Shackleton replacing Forshaw to give us a bit more of an attacking threat through the middle. But all of this was in vain, even though Costa was keen to show a bit of his trickery down the right. We had one more shout for a penalty as he was eased off the ball, but again there wasn’t enough in it for such a major decision so late in the game.
Four minutes of injury time were announced, and even though we went slightly beyond that before the final whistle, it still wasn’t long enough for Leeds to find a winning goal. At the end several of our players were moaning at the referee, perhaps because Costa was moving down the right when he brought the game to an end, or perhaps about some of the incidents earlier in the game.
So once again it was a case of Leeds not being able to finish a team off despite having the best of the game, as Bielsa said to Leeds Live “I felt a growing of the team. The team is not easily losing the ball. We didn’t receive counter attacks. The team has come to control the game. Two corners allowed them to score one goal. And we needed ten chances to have the same.”
Once again Bamford’s critics have been all over social media this evening, but at least you can say he worked hard to get into some good positions, and he was a bit unlucky with a couple of the chances that came his way. But he really needs to start hitting the back of the net with greater regularity if we are not going to suffer the same frustrations as we did last season.
Reuters Media Express
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