Nottingham Forest 2 Leeds United 1: YEP jury verdict

Danny Pugh steers round Gonzalo Jara. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Danny Pugh steers round Gonzalo Jara. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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The YEP jury have their say after Leeds United lost 2-1 against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

GARY NEWBOULD

United slipped to their first loss in six games when they went down 2-1 at the City Ground.

Brian McDermott made one change from the side that started at Blackpool with midfielder Luke Murphy returning from suspension at the expense of Michael Tonge, who was relegated to the substitutes’ bench.

The home side, boosted by their Boxing Day victory over QPR, started the brighter and a poor back pass from the Whites almost caused chaos in the opening seconds. Keeper Kenny also looked to be in some difficulty from an injury but thankfully managed to shake off the niggle.

United struggled to get an early hold of the game with their midfield almost non-existent with Reid and Lansbury dominating for the home side.

It looked only a matter of time before the home side would take the lead and this duly arrived on 22 minutes when defender-turned-striker Greg Halford headed home following slack marking from a free-kick.

Forest continued to dominate proceedings and the damage could have been much greater for the Whites before the referee brought the half to a conclusion.

The second period started in pretty much the same vein as the first, but eventually United started to look a little more composed on the ball and at the same time the home side seemed to take their foot off the pedal and an air of complacency seemed to envelop their play.

A certain Mr Clough once said that “it only takes a second to score a goal” and sure enough on 82 minutes the Whites grabbed an unlikely equaliser through the most likely of people as Ross McCormack scored his 18th league goal of the season. And it looked like United would emerge with a barely deserved point.

However a certain Mr Clough also said that a side was never more vulnerable than when they had just scored and sure enough Forest went straight to the other end of the pitch and Matt Derbyshire scored a thunderbolt from long-range to restore the home side’s advantage. United never recovered and duly surrendered a vital three points against a team that is sure to represent one of their main competitors for a play-off place. This defeat sees the Whites drop to seventh, outside the Championship play-offs by virtue of goal difference.

So once again another festive period has registered just a meagre two points over three games and if one team would ever benefit from the introduction of a mid-season break then it would be United. At least this recent form is something of a reality check and further evidence that a major investment in personnel and quality is required when the transfer window opens.

A couple of strikers to take the burden off McCormack, some pace and width and more experienced cover for Paddy Kenny are a must if the club is to continue harbouring ambitions of a tilt at the Championship play-offs.

Man of the match: Marius Zaliukas.

KEITH INGHAM

Leeds lost their top-six place after a late Matt Derbyshire goal gave Forest the points.

To be fair, Forest were on the front foot from the first whistle. Paddy Kenny was alert to a poor back-pass only to be clattered by Greg Halford. The Leeds keeper carried on after treatment.

Forest took the lead when Halford rose above the Leeds defence to score and Reid nearly doubled the lead but his shot just cleared the crossbar. Tom Lees and then Matt Smith went close for Leeds against a team showing just why they were fifth.

With 60 minutes played, Gboly Ariyibi got his first taste in a Leeds shirt as a substitute for Michael Brown. Forest nearly claimed a second when Mackie found the on-rushing Abdoun but the injured Kenny saved well.

Ariyibi should have done better when presented with a chance but the young winger missed by a country mile. But top scorer Ross McCormack delighted travelling supporters with the leveller only for Derbyshire to hit a screamer past Kenny. Sub’ Dom Poleon nearly grabbed a point but his header went narrowly wide.

This game showed that although the squad has done well, quality additions need to be acquired if the team is to have a hope of challenging for a top-six place. Over to you Mr Haigh and co.

Man of the match: Paddy Kenny, played on while clearly injured.

JONATHAN FORD

If that performance at Forest doesn’t prove we are lacking then I don’t know what does.

The fact Brian McDermott has identified four targets shows he knows it too. But the most disappointing thing was key players lacked effort and that really wasn’t good enough.

Man of the match: Marius Zaliukas.

ELLIOT BRANSBY

I’m not sure why changes weren’t made to the team after the trip to Blackpool and two points from our three Christmas games is not good enough.

We seemed to lack real quality in the final third of the pitch and are clearly relying on Ross McCormack too much.

It was clear that Forest wanted it more than we did which is very disappointing and we didn’t deserve anything from the game.

We did improve a bit when Ariyibi and Byram came on and we were beaten by a wonder goal but I felt Kenny should have been replaced when he started to struggle with his injury. The one bit of good news is that it’s January on Wednesday and we can sign some new players.

Man of the match: The United fans.

STEPHEN CLARK

Another Christmas, and Santa seems to have had no presents left for Leeds United fans as a disappointing performance at Nottingham Forest saw the home side deservedly take all three points.

From the opening minute Leeds were under the cosh.

Man of the match: No-one stood out enough.

MICHAEL HEMSWORTH

Leeds were undone by a wonder strike that must be one of the fastest goals we’ve ever conceded after scoring ourselves.

In truth, had we taken anything from this game it would have been daylight robbery. This was our worst performance since the Derby defeat. Matt Smith, Tom Lees, Lee Peltier and the entire midfield should be ashamed of themselves. The Derby match proved to be a turning point and we can only hope the same will be said about this match.

Three games without a win and an acute lack of chances created in that time have highlighted serious gaps in this squad.

Man of the match: Paddy Kenny.

Vurnon Anita.

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