Leeds 0-0 Forest
Nottingham Forest produced an impressive display to claim a 0-0 draw away at in-form Leeds United this afternoon.
After an even opening 45 minutes, The Reds put their hosts to the sword with a dominant second-half display.
But they were unable to find a winning goal, Chris Burke going closest when he saw his near-post shot saved with just over a quarter of an hour to play.
Dougie Freedman made one change to the side that beat Middlesbrough last weekend.
Ben Osborn was handed a starting berth in place of Todd Kane, who was absent from the squad altogether. Michael Mancienne filled in at right back as Eric Lichaj continued on the left against his former club.
Modou Barrow, who agreed a loan move to Forest from Swansea earlier this week, was unavailable for selection pending international clearance.
After an even start to the match, Leeds claimed the first opportunity. The Whites showed great tenacity to win the ball deep in Forest’s final third before drawing a block from Jamaal Lascelles in the area. The ball spun away to Charlie Taylor, who was left frustrated as Karl Darlow narrowed the angle well to make a strong save.
Forest’s response saw both of their wingers combine, Michail Antonio breaking away through the middle before playing the ball to Burke on his right. The Scotsman beat his man in the area but Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci positioned himself well to block the shot.
And The Reds carved out another good chance on 22 minutes after a brilliant move which started with some patient passing in tight areas. Forest worked the ball to Mancienne,who skillfully beat his man before playing the ball forward for Burke. The winger cut it back cleverly for Ben Osborn, who had run into space near the edge of the area. He shifted on to his left foot before curling it low towards goal. Marco Silvestri was able to make the save.
It was an even, open encounter at Elland Road, and had Steve Morison achieved better direction on his header from Alex Mowatt’s inswinging free-kick he could have given his side the lead. Instead the ball flew harmlessly wide.
But Forest picked their hosts apart again on 28 minutes, Lichaj playing an intelligent pass to Burke who had drifted into space from the right. He played the ball to Antonio, who ghosted past Scott Wootton before cutting the ball back for Osborn in the area. The midfielder’s effort was tamer than he’d have liked and Silvestri was able to block the ball’s path towards goal.
From the resultant corner, it looked like Kelvin Wilson was certain to score after the ball dropped to him at the back post but his effort took a nick off a Leeds defender on its way behind. Silvestri punched the following delivery away.
The Reds had enjoyed the better of the chances, but they presented their hosts with an opening on 31 minutes when Henri Lansbury lost possession to Luke Murphy in midfield. Murphy ran dangerously at Forest’s back line but Lascelles stood firm to block his progress. The ball rolled to Morison who opted to shoot with the outside of his right foot, but he got his effort horribly wrong.
Determined not to let Leeds get the upper hand, Forest carved out a chance of their own a minute later. Gary Gardner played a superb ball down the line for Antonio who, in trademark fashion, cut inside from the left. The Leeds defenders did well to shepherd him across the face of the area, forcing the winger to check back on to his left foot. He could only send the ball bobbling harmlessly wide of goal.
There were no changes for either side at half-time and it was the visitors who created the first opening of the second period. Osborn did well to release Antonio into the space between Leeds’ midfield and defence. The ball was visibly bobbling across the surface and Antonio appeared to have to delay his shot before drawing a comfortable save from Silvestri.
Forest were making all the running in the early second-half exchanges, but were almost hit with a sucker punch when Osborn’s pass went awry, allowing Taylor to race unchallenged towards The Reds’ area. He could only send the ball over from 20 yards.
Antonio was proving a constant menace once more, but he was unable to pick out Forest a man after twice cutting into Leeds’ area with around 60 minutes on the clock.
And there was more frustration for Antonio shortly afterwards. A neat Blackstock flick sent the winger through one-on-one with Leeds defender Bellusci, who was forced to back off as Antonio progressed towards the edge of Leeds’ area at speed. The bobbly surface appeared to hinder him again, Antonio taking a heavy touch to get around Bellusci and allowing Silvestri to dive at his feet to push the ball away. Forest kept the move alive and worked the ball to Gardner, who saw his long-range strike take a deflection out for a corner. Leeds cleared the danger.
Forest were in complete control and came close to opening the scoring on 73 minutes. After terrific defending by Lascelles to halt former Red Billy Sharp, Forest broke away at pace. Blackstock laid it off for Burke, who shifted the ball on to his left before firing it low towards Silvestri’s bottom corner. The keeper dived to his left to tip it wide.
The resultant corner caused chaos but it was a Leeds man who got the telling touch, clearing the ball away after a mad scramble in the six-yard box.
It had been a terrific display by Freedman’s men but Leeds began to stem the flow towards their goal as the clock ticked down - and Mirco Antenucci, on for Morison, drew a good save from Darlow with five minutes to play after the ball ran free for him in the area.
Four minutes were added on at the end of the match, in the third of which Silvestri was breathing a sigh of relief when his poor punch from Burke’s free-kick went unpunished.
But still Forest pressed, Blackstock winning a free-kick from Bamba just outside the ‘D’. Lansbury could only curl the ball over the bar and the match ended 0-0.