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LEEDS UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

Match v Nottingham Forest (2nd)
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                 NOTTINGHAM FOREST...........0 LEEDS UNITED..........0

                                                           Leeds United badge

Leeds came up against a ragged Forest team that had been hit by massive injury and suspension problems but in the end a game that looked set to yield yet more away points for the Whites was a damp squib. 

Leeds never really got themselves going and had it not been for Neil Sullivan's fourth penalty save of the season, they wouldn't have got anything at all out of plucky Forest.

Pre-match

United boss Kevin Blackwell had two changes forced upon him with Sean Gregan and Michael Gray serving part of their suspensions.

In came Frazer Richardson at left-back and Danny Pugh took up position on the wide left in a four man midfield.

The changes meant that Leeds also changed the formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, a formation they hadn't played since the home game against Burnley in early November.

The fit again midfield pair of Gylfi Einarsson and Seth Johnson were on the bench.

Forest had ten players unavailable through illness, injury or suspension.

The Match

Forest, fighting for their lives and having to contend with a virus that swept through their camp, were lively at the start and nearly stole a march on United.

They broke forward from kick-off and Ross Gardner was tackled inside the area by Kilgallon but managed to find his feet again and took it forward, fortunately Sullivan had come out and closed him down and grabbed hold of the ball. 

Then with just seven minutes on the clock Leeds suffered a blow when Frazer Richardson was taken off injured. Richardson had turned awkwardly after Kevin James went past him and had to be stretchered off for treatment.  It meant Clarke Carlisle was forced to come on and that saw Matthew Kilgallon move to left-back.

United's first chance saw Hulse hold the ball up and his shot on goal was deflected through to Clarke Carlisle who had made a surprising run into the penalty area but the defender was closed down well before he could get anything behind his shot.

David Healy became the first player booked in the match for a trip, and then Forest came forward with purpose through John Curtis, but his shot was easily held by Sullivan.

Sullivan was called upon again on 20-minutes to prevent what would have been a certain goal. Forest's young midfielder James Perch unleashed a low drive from 30-yards that was not only powerful but on target too.  Sullivan was equal to it but took two attempts to bring the ball under control.

The hosts were forced to make a change of their own before the half hour mark when Gregor Robertson came on for Curtis who had been suffering from the bug that had already accounted for many of his team-mates.

United had done little in the first half to threaten the Forest goal, Clarke Carlisle sent a header just over before the end, otherwise Kevin Blackwell would have had plenty to concern himself with in his half-time team talk.

Two minutes into the second half and were desperately unlucky not to score when Gareth Taylor hit a shot against the underside of the bar. The striker could not believe his misfortune as the ball came back out but the danger still wasn't over for the Whites.

Sub Gregor Robertson had the ball in the area and was closing in for the shot when Lennon made a powerful tackle on him. Referee Graham Salisbury waved away Forest's loud appeals and Leeds escaped.

Forest had gone into the game with their star player, Kris Commons on the bench, but they brought him on just before the hour mark to liven things up.  He was another one who had fallen victim to the City Ground virus.

With 65 painful minutes having been played, Blackwell made his second change and it meant another appearance for Seth Johnson.  The fans had chanted "there's only one Seth Johnson" during the first half to get the message over to the manager that they wanted to see him starting games.  They had their wish now, kind of.

As Johnson stepped onto the pitch, and was roundly booed by the home fans for his Derby County connections, Leed were attacking through a corner that was played back to Kelly, he swung in a good cross that was met with a firm header by Hulse but it went wide - story of United's night.

Leeds had just begun to get into their stride when a massive defensive blunder gave Forest the chance to test Sullivan from the spot.

It came on 71 minutes when Carlisle allowed Kris Commons too much space and allowed him to get goalside with the ball but then Gary Kelly came across and tripped the Forest play-maker.

Commons stepped up himself but with the pressure all on Forest in these kind of situations, the nerves showed and his shot was just to the left of the centre and Sullivan made the save look easy.

It was the fourth time Sullivan has saved United with penalty saves this season and Leeds have not lost when the former Scotland international has performed such heroics.

Shortly after the incident Rob Hulse was booked for pushing Louis-Jean over near the corner flag, the Forest man going over all too easily and rolling on and on as he did so.

With just over ten minutes left to find a winner Blackwell brought David Healy off and put Brian Deane on in what was the signal for Leeds to try a more direct approach.

The game was kept alive by the presence of Commons for Forest and Lennon for Leeds. After the latter had seen a run and shot come to nothing, Lennon broke downfield and with his usual trickery sent defenders one way and then the other but couldn't find a finish from the edge of the box to trouble Gerrard in the Forest goal.

Leeds were creating more chances though as Forest threw people forward in a desperate attempt to get a winner that would ignite their survival battle. David Healy nearly brought it all to a crashing end for them with his shot but Forest flung bodies in the way and blocked it well.

On the stroke of 90 minutes, United's back line was exposed after attacking at a free-kick, Commons spotted the run of Perch and Sullivan had to be quickly out of his goal to clear the danger. In doing so he just clipped the Forest youngster and it brought his night to an end.

United had one final chance in injury time to come away with the points. They won a free-kick wide on the right of the penalty area which was then brought forward after Forest's continued protests, but it was hardly worth the wait as Seth Johnson blasted his effort high and wide of the target with just about every Leeds player waiting inside the six-yard box to get on the end of it.

It really was a drab affair and some sympathy must go to the home side for their galant performance with such a scratch team.

Nottingham Forest

Starting XI

22Gerrard, Paul

2Louis-Jean, Mathieu

4Morgan, Wes

6Thompson, John

16Doig, Chris

21Curtis, John

28Perch, James

26Gardner, Ross

23Bopp, Eugen

10Taylor, Gareth

18James, Kevin

Substitutes

1Doyle, Colin

17Commons, Kris

24Robertson, Gregor

27Beaumont, James

33Harris, Neil

Leeds United

Starting XI

1Sullivan, Neil

2Kelly, Gary

6Butler, Paul

26Kilgallon, Matthew

12Pugh, Danny

25Lennon, Aaron

18Walton, Simon

7Wright, Jermaine

15Richardson, Frazer

29Hulse, Rob

9Healy, David

Substitutes

23Pressman, Kevin

4Carlisle, Clarke

16Einarsson, Gylfi

20Johnson, Seth

30Deane, Brian

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