Half-time! Nottingham Forest 1-0 Leeds
Leeds did everything but score. Forest did next to nothing, except score. That’s football.
See you in a few, here’s some half-time reading:
45 min + 2: Forest make a rare trip towards the Leeds goal. Nothing comes of it, and suddenly Sinisterra is haring through the middle at pace. He has Bamford on his left, and tries to find him with an angled ball. It takes a little deflection and then squirts off Bamford’s shin and away from him to safety from Forest’s point of view. That looked completely “village” from Bamford but to be fair the ball took a little nick off a Forest leg on its way to him, so it was a difficult one to control.
43 min: Leeds, again, are pushing and pushing. There’s a ludicrous mix-up between Neco Williams and Boly who both gravitate towards a ball over the top, on the Leeds left. Williams tries to clear but only heads it into the path of Gnonto, who has space to advance on goal after the two Forest defenders went for the same ball. Gnonto bangs an angled shot straight at Navas and the former Real Madrid man is equal to the task.
39 min: Leeds threaten yet again. A deep cross is whipped to the far post for Ayling, who directs a perceptive header back across goal, hoping for someone to get on the end of it. Navas dives to try and beat it out, but sustains a head injury in the process, accidentally making contact with the leg of a teammate. The medics come on to dish out a bit of treatment and the Costa Rican gloveman is in a fit state to continue.
35 min: Big, big chance for Leeds! Gnonto creates it again, he’s a constant threat, and makes a good run down the left having been released by Bamford. He cuts a low ball back inside for Bamford, who has continued his run … but the forward produces a hideous mis-kick in trying to divert a first-time shot on goal. The ball nevertheless bounces across for Ayling, who hits a powerful goal-bound effort, left-footed and first-time, that is beaten out by Navas!
34 min: I sense there may be liberal use of the phrase ‘huff and puff’ in match reports of this one. Leeds are doing most of the huffing and puffing, but they continue to make limited progress when it comes to threatening the Forest goal. Marsch looks increasingly frustrated on the touchline.
31 min: After the foul by Danilo, Leeds pump a free-kick goalwards. Ayling then floats a good ball for Gnonto on the Leeds left, who meets it first time and cushions a pass towards the near post. Sinisterra is there to meet it with a left-footed shot from point-blank range … but he gets right underneath it and the ball balloons high and wide over the crossbar! The Forest fans roar with delight. Gnonto looks disgusted with that, having put the ball on a plate for his teammate.
30 min: Weston McKennie, on loan from Juventus, is pictured on the bench for Leeds. He looks cold.
Danilo now goes in the referee’s notebook for a foul on Struijk in midfield.
28 min: Bamford makes a run, and is cynically body-checked by Boly. He crumples to the turf and looks around at the ref. Nothing doing. Boly is involved again seconds later, this time crunching into a tackle on Adams.
25 min: It was Struijk who gave away the free-kick that led to Forest’s goal, and he was booked for his trouble, for a challenge on Johnson. Given it was his poor header that gave Johnson a chance to score moments later, that wasn’t the most distinguished couple of minutes of the defender’s career.
23 min: Now it’s Leeds’s turn to float a dangerous cross into the penalty area from a set piece. Navas comes a long way off his line and attempts to punch, but doesn’t get a decent contact on the ball. He does manage to make contact with his teammate, Boly, accidentally. The ball squirts forwards but then bounces back to Navas who rather fortunately claims it … Boly needs a bit of treatment, but is OK to continue.
20 min: Leeds threaten down the middle with Bamford, who looks to turn inside his marker and sprint into space, but he doesn’t appear to have the pace to pose any kind of threat such a long way from goal.
Forest take it down to the other end and Gibbs-White cracks a shot from the edge of the box that is blocked by a Leeds body.
18 min: Sean Dyche is pictured sitting in the stands, sitting next to Ian Woan, now his assistant coach at Everton.
“One understands why, because of their profile, Chelsea have attracted all the attention for their bran tub approach to player acquisition,” emails Richard. “However, in terms of numbers, if not cost, Forest seem to have outdone them. I find it hard to understand how Steve Cooper can decide what his best team might be, since there are an almost infinite number of possible combinations.”
Forest win a free-kick wide on their right. Gibbs-White bends a dangerous ball into the mixer. It’s half-cleared by Struijk, his attempted clearing header bouncing into the turf and floating invitingly up in the air … Johnson meets it with a sweet right-footed shot that flies into the bottom corner, always curling away from the dive of Meslier, who I think would have been beaten by the sheer pace of the shot regardless. A lovely strike. Very harsh on Leeds after the bright start they made.
Goal! 13 min: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Leeds (Johnson)
Forest have not been in the game, and now they are in the lead.
“Please tell me Forest haven’t got the gall to be making any green football gestures, after flying to their cup game at Blackpool a month ago,” emails Thomas.
10 min: Forest have posed zero threat to the Leeds goal thus far. Marsch was talking up his team before the match, and in his press conference on Friday, and they do indeed look an accomplished outfit at the moment, passing crisply and with confidence and putting in plenty of running to try and stretch the home defence.
7 min: Gnonto does well to burst infield from the left wing for Leeds. He plays a good-looking square pass to Ayling. Ayling hits a shot from the edge of the area but it’s half-blocked and then cleared. It’s a slow start from Cooper’s men and he won’t be happy with the way Leeds are running this show so far.
5 min: The game hasn’t really settled down yet. There is loads of noise from both sets of supporters, although Leeds are enjoying more possession and territory in the early stages. Forest can’t impose themselves in midfield, they are half a second slower to everything.
2 min: A bit of a scruffy start, Mangala at least producing a good bit of skill in midfield for Forest to ghost past a couple of would-be tacklers …
Leeds attack, Bamford trying to flick on a bouncing ball for Sinisterra … the Colombian is suddenly in on goal, and stabs a low shot that Navas does well to keep out, low to his left. So nearly an ideal start for Marsch’s men.
First half kick-off!
Forest get us started. Plenty of noise from both sets of fans.
Meslier, in goal for Leeds, is referred to as “the customary Frenchman” on Sky.
The teams are lined up in the tunnel. We are under five minutes from kick-off.
Are you as excited as I am?
Patrick Bamford of Leeds has a chat: “We’ve played well in patches in a lot of games … ideally we’ll get wins in the league, but winning in the cup breeds a bit of confidence …
“I’ve come back now in a much better mental and physical place. I am enjoying my football again.”
Jesse Marsch speaks: “Patrick [Bamford] is in his best form since I’ve known him … he’s playing with a lot of quality right now and scoring for fun.
“We also have Georginio on the bench … Weston has had a really good week of training and he will feature [as a starter] in one of the three matches we have this week.
“Points are at a premium right now … but I also try to reinforce a lot of positivity … I feel good about the process, and the progress that we’ve made. Now we need a result today to prove all that.”
“It’s an interesting match up today for many reasons, between two clubs with a lot in common,” emails Jeremy. “As the song lyrics have it “the ties that bound us are still around us”, but let’s leave it there and not complete the verse: “There’s no escape that I can see.” They are both “loveable” sleeping giants who have finally and thankfully made it back to the big boys playground after a (too) lengthy absence, they both briefly threatened to break up the “big club” hegemony of their heyday periods, winning Cups and titles for fun. Both of the great sides featured their talismanic small-in-stature/huge-personality Scottish firebrand midfielders (Bremner/Gemmill). And then there’s Cloughie, the years at Forest, the 56 [was it 56 or 44? – Ed.] days at Leeds.
“I would include winning the European Cup in the ties, except some pedant would point out that Leeds didn’t. As all Leeds fans have know since that fateful evening in Paris, Leeds DID win the European Cup, but it was stolen from them by a dodgy refereeing decision and Gerd Müller. In an ideal world both of these teams will escape the drop, so a point each today would suit that narrative. All the same, as a life-long NastyLeeds supporter I am obviously for all 3 going to the whites. 2 – 0 Forest then.”
Sky Sports have just shown a feature about Green Football Weekend, which aims to encourage fans to take action on climate change and make sustainable choices.
Graeme Souness reveals that he hasn’t eaten meat for several years now, although more on ethical than environmental grounds.
I’ve got a funny feeling that this is going to be a really good game today.
What do you think? You can email me or tweet @LukeMcLaughlin
Rob Smyth is blogging Manchester United v Everton in the WSL right here – it’s deadlocked at 0-0 currently and into the final 20:
The deadline-day signing and three-times Champions League winner, Navas, is straight into the Forest starting lineup in goal. Felipe and Andre Ayew, another couple of new arrivals, are on the bench while Gibbs-White is back after an ankle injury earlier than expected. Danilo makes his first Premier League start for the club.
For Leeds, Patrick Bamford will lead the line – Jesse Marsch was talking up his current condition on Friday – while Weston McKennie is on the bench.
Nottingham Forest: Navas, Mangala, Williams, Gibbs-White, Johnson, Freuler, McKenna, Danilo, Boly, Lodi, Wood. Substitutes: Hennessy, Worrall, Colback, Lingard, Surridge, Aurier, Scarpa, Ayew, Felipe.
Leeds: Meslier, Ayling, Struijk, Cooper, Wober, Adams, Roca, Harrison, Sinisterra, Bamford, Gnonto. Substitutes: Robles, Firpo, Kristensen, Greenwood, Aaronson, Summerville, McKennie, Joseph, Georginio.
The Forest manager Steve Cooper has a chat with Sky Sports and is asked about their recent good run: “If I’m being honest we are only thinking of what’s next … we want to improve and strive to get better … We are only looking forward. It’s a great game to look forward to, and be part of.
“The supporters have been excellent. It’s something we’ve used well … that definitely helps. I just feel like we now know what we want to look like, and what we look like at our best.
“We’ve got to keep striving to improve that … we’ve always got that motivation to be at the level required … it’s a lot of work going on, a lot of focus … we’re only thinking about what’s next.”
Cooper is asked about Keylar Navas, who joined on loan from Paris Saint-Germain in January and is set to start today with Dean Henderson out. “He’s only been in for a couple of days,” says Cooper. “We’re delighted Keylar has joined us … he’s showed great humility and work rate … he’s really wanted to understand what the club is and how we play … he was very keen to come, which is non-negotiable with me. We are looking forward to working with him.”
Question: What do Brian Clough and Liz Truss have in common?
Answer: They both infamously held down a high-profile job for 44 days.
In fact, it may have been 45 for Truss, but let’s not get bogged down in the detail. In Clough’s case it was of course his time as manager of Leeds, a story so endlessly told it has become a cliche. On the weekend that Truss seemingly attempts to relaunch her frontline political career, however, I am claiming special dispensation. It’s very difficult to imagine the former PM mounting the kind of spectacular comeback that Clough achieved after being sacked by Leeds and taking over at Forest.
Anyway, Nottingham Forest v Leeds. Steve Cooper’s men are on a good run in the Premier League, unbeaten in four, with a couple of wins and a couple of draws. They were comfortably dispatched by Manchester United over two legs in the Carabao Cup semi-final, but there is no shame in that.
Leeds aren’t in such fine fettle results-wise, winless in four, although three of those were draws so things could be considerably worse. Jesse Marsch certainly talked a good game in his Friday press conference on the progress he feels is being made, and gave special mention to the form and fitness of Patrick Bamford. Leeds are 17th, Forest are 14th, and this promises to be a competitive affair that could go all the way up to 11.