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LEEDS UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

Match v Nottingham Forest
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                    LEEDS UNITED.........1  NOTTINGHAM FOREST........1
 
                                                                     
 

It's a point but 30,000+ Leeds fans left Elland Road bewildered that after so many chances - and even with a penalty awarded against them -  they failed to pick up all three for the second time this season.

The penalty was so generous to the visitors it makes a mockery of the word 'dodgy'.   Steve Guppy is too experienced to give those away, and there was no wonder he was devastated by the decision after he looked set to mark his home debut with a winning goal courtesy of his crashing first half header.

But Leeds should get used to having the rug pulled from beneath them this season, because, as anyone with as much experience in this division as Kevin Blackwell can vouch, this league is littered with dubious referee's and even more dubious decisions.

Still, a point is a point and just maybe future referees will be as accommodating to Leeds away from home. 

Pre-Match

United boss Kevin Blackwell made three changes for the second home game of the season against a Nottingham Forest who had drawn their opening three games.

In came Clarke Carlisle for his league debut in a Leeds shirt, replacing the suspended Michael Duberry.  The former QPR man had been itching for his chance and got the nod at centre-half ahead of Matthew Kilgallon.

In midfield there was a start for non-contract signing Steve Guppy, who played on the left flank and Danny Pugh moved across into centre-midfield.  The change also meant there was no place for 16-year-old Simon Walton in the starting line-up.

Upfront Blackwell decided to go for Julian Joachim with Brian Deane, Michael Ricketts was the man to miss out as Joachim was recalled.

Forest made just the one change with Wes Morgan replacing Chris Doig at the back.

The Match

Kevin Blackwell sent his forwards out with the message to batter the Forest defence and it showed right from kick-off as Brian Deane especially made his presence felt and Joachim too fought his way around the pitch.  It was part of the plan to unsettle a side that had not lost for 15 games.

United were gifted their first real chance after five minutes, and Brian Deane will look back on how he could have done better if he'd taken his time.

It came courtesy of a bizarre mix-up between Forest keeper Paul Gerrard and his defence as communication broke down resulting in a hashed clearance from the defender and Gerrard on the deck with the ball falling to Deane on the edge of the area.

The United man instinctively hooked the ball back towards goal and it sailed just inches past the left hand post.

Three minutes later and Leeds were given another opportunity to go for goal when Joachim was fouled 20-yards out.  It was Stephen Crainey who stepped up to take it and delivered an accurate strike that was heading into the right hand corner of the net but Gerrard made an athletic dive to pull off the save .

Forest remained a threat on the break and missed two good chances to open the scoring.

First Kelly was skinned by David Johnson and the Forest striker found Andy Impey on the far side but his shot was well over the top.

Then Leeds had an alert linesman to thank after the dangerous Reid, a transfer target for a number of Premiership clubs,  had managed to cross the ball past a static United defence, Gareth Taylor though had mistimed his run and was clearly offside as he head the ball unmarked past Sullivan into the net.

That let-off acted as a wake-up call for Leeds who then came out all guns blazing and created as many chances in a few minutes as they had for 90 minutes against Wolves the previous week.

Steve Guppy played a clever ball forward for Joachim to collect, and then the striker's cross  was flighted in perfectly for Pugh to meet, but his header went woefully wide from just six yards out.

Joachim then won a corner that Guppy took and placed it perfectly for Crainey and the full-back was fractions away from his first goal for the club as his header grazed the cross bar.

It was still all Leeds with the chances and on 23 minutes Deane brought the ball down well for Richardson who audaciously went for goal from 25-yards with a curling shot that only just went over the target.

The breakthrough finally came a minute later.

Frazer Richardson working hard down the right hand side beat everyone in the Forest area with a swinging cross and the right winger found his left-wing team-mate Steve Guppy lurking on the edge of the penalty box.  It had been three years since Guppy last scored, but he showed no signs of rust as his perfectly executed header crept under Gerrard's body at the near post to give United a deserved lead.

Given his opportunity at the club by Kevin Blackwell after weeks on trial, Guppy had comes up trumps for his new manager.

Leeds spent the rest of the half trying to slow the game down and contain Forest, their success on both counts would have been better had they managed to keep hold of possession longer, but they are improving with every game.

United took their lead into the break and surely all Blackwell would want in the second half was more of the same.  

Paul Evans became the first man to go into the referee's notebook when he was booked less than a minute after the restart

when he protested too much after being judged to have handled the ball by a linesman.

Leeds had started the half well and whilst the chances may have been few and far between, they were working hard to restrict

the visitors - summed up by Reid's 30-yard drive that was born out of frustration more than being a genuine chance.

Still, the visitors were managing to add to their corner count and from one  on 56 minutes they nearly drew level.

It was taken by Reid and delivered to the edge of the box where Gareth Taylor met it with a powerful header - fortunately it was straight into Sullivan's arms, elsewhere and the scores would once again have been level.

Brian Deane was the second man booked after he tried to force Forest to take a free-kick from the correct position, but the referee did not take his side after a brief spat which saw him and Jon Olav Hjelde square up to each other.

Deane's influence in the game was crucial for Leeds.  The big man was winning everything sent in his direction and showed a work rate that shames players almost half his age. He nearly scored too after connecting with Richardson's cross, Gerrard was equal to it though.

Then came the sucker-punch from a penalty that United will feel hard done by.

Steve Guppy was judged to have brought Paul Evans down inside the area, but to everyone in the John Charles stand the Forest midfielder had simply lost his footing after the ball had gone.  Leeds had better get used to Championship referees because they clearly have much to learn from their Premiership counterparts.

It was the second successive penalty Sullivan was forced to face in a week, this time though despite diving the right way again, Andy Reid put enough power behind his spot-kick to beat him.

With the scores level again, Blackwell instructed his team to go for broke and later made several changes in pursuit of a goal. Simon Walton was first to came on for the unfortunate Guppy.

Before he went off, Julian Joachim squandered a superb chance to score.

The pacy striker broke clear but as Gerrard came to meet him he tried to curl his shot in and the keeper got a hand to the ball to keep it out.  The crowd agonised as the ball trickled past the right hand post.

Pugh took the corner and delivered it into the centre where Deane's downwards header hit the deck and bounced over the top as luck deserted him at the crucial moment.

Michael Ricketts then replaced Deane, who had given absolutely everything and Jamie McMaster came on for Joachim to cause an immediate problem for the Forest defence.

McMaster was hauled down by Hjelde as he charged towards goal and the Forest man was lucky to get away with just a yellow card. Crainey took the free-kick and put it over the top of goal.

The game finished with Leeds piling forward and winning corner after corner, but it's goals that count and United just couldn't find a way through.   Robbed!

Leeds United

Starting XI

1Sullivan, Neil

4Carlisle, Clarke

3Crainey, Stephen

2Kelly, Gary

6Butler, Paul

15Richardson, Frazer

12Pugh, Danny

24Guppy, Steve

7Wright, Jermaine

11Joachim, Julian

30Deane, Brian

Substitutes

13Carson, Scott

18Walton, Simon

26Kilgallon, Matthew

28McMaster, Jamie

10Ricketts, Michael

Nottingham Forest

Starting XI

22Gerrard, Paul

15Impey, Andy

2Louis-Jean, Mathieu

3Rogers, Alan

29Hjelde, Jon

4Morgan, Wes

8Evans, Paul

7Reid, Andy

9Johnson, David

10Taylor, Gareth

14Jess, Eoin

Substitutes

12Roche, Barry

17Commons, Kristian

24Robertson, Gregor

16Doig, Chris

11King, Marlon

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