Leeds United took on Nottingham Forest on the first day of the new year, looking to start a new winning streak after falling just days earlier to Hull City. The Whites came out in their typical starting lineup:
Forest had earned a pitiful 2 points in their last 5 matches, so it was a great opportunity for Leeds come away with a solid win over a struggling team.
The match got off to a terrible start when, just 4 minutes in, Adam Forshaw failed to properly send a backpass to Bailey Peacock-Farrell, and midfielder Jack Colbat easily intercepted it and slotted it home to make it 1-0. The young goalkeeper probably should have been more aggressive, but Forshaw was clearly the one at fault for the horrendous goal.
In the 13th minute, Leeds were given a wonderful opportunity when Jack Robinson took down Jack Harrison from behind at the top of the box. Robinson was only shown a yellow, and the ensuing Leeds free kick was put just wide right by left back Barry Douglas. Leeds’ form picked up as the match went on, and the Whites got their best chance of the first half when Harrison played a brilliant through ball to Kemar Roofe, who was unable to make the most of his one-on-one shot against keeper Costel Pantilimon.
In the closing moments of the first half, the day got even worse for Leeds, when Kalvin Philips went studs up into a Nottingham player and earned himself a red card. It was a stupid challenge, and given the precedent set by Robinson’s yellow, it seemed a bit harsh from the ref.
With the team collapsing in the wake of Philipps’ sending off, Adam Forshaw once again gave away a terrible pass just in front of the box to Joe Lolley. Fortunately, Peacock-Farrell made a massive save and was able to keep the score at 1-0 going into halftime.
Interestingly, Marcelo Bielsa took off Jack Harrison in favor of Jack Clarke to start the second half, even though Harrison was by far Leeds’ best player for the first 45 minutes. In the 52nd minute, the game completely changed for Leeds. Kemar Roofe got the ball at the top of the box and found Mateusz Klich, who in turn found Clarke free on the right wing. Clarke got a great look on goal and managed to put the ball underneath Pantilimon to make the score 1-1, despite Leeds playing with ten men.
The game began to open up as Leeds pressed for a second goal, and Kemar Roofe nearly found it after a wonderful long ball from Luke Ayling sent him through the Nottingham backline. However, Roofe was unable to bring down the ball and attempted to chip the oncoming Pantilimon, and his shot went just wide.
Three minutes later, Ezgjan Alioski, who was one of Leeds’ better players all day, finally broke the deadlock. After a cross into the box from Pablo Hernandez, Pontus Jansson was able to head the ball from the front of the goal back to the Macedonian winger, who finished the easy volley into the back of the net.
Nottingham were not finished though. On a corner, Jack Colbat found himself with the ball at the top of the box and easily shot it through the mass of bodies past Peacock-Farrell to level the score 2-2. Soon after, on another corner, Forest striker Daryl Murphy found the back of the net off the cross in from Ben Osborn. Though Leeds had been dominating the second half, these two quick goals seemed to take the wind out of the team, and they conceded yet again to Ben Osborn, who made a deadly run between Luke Ayling and Pontus Jansson, something which could have been dealt with easily, had Kalvin Philips still been on the field.
With slightly over 10 minutes left, Marcelo Bielsa took off Barry Douglas in favor of Tyler Roberts, essentially playing a 2-man defense with Alioski and Clarke as wing backs. Leeds were able to create a few more chances during the dying minutes of the match, but none came to fruition. The match, which looked like a surefire Leeds victory for just 5 minutes, ended 4-2 in favor of Nottingham.
There were two crucial mistakes that defined this match: Adam Forshaw’s giveaway and Kalvin Philips’ red. Without these, Leeds would have been tied 0-0 at halftime with all 11 men and likely could have gone on to win. Though it was a disappointing result, the Whites can rebound by defeating sixth-place Derby County and their manager Frank Lampard this Friday at Elland Road.