FOREST FORM HITS LOW-KEY BLIP IN LEEDS
SOMETIMES, with the end of the season in sight, you get a clash between two sides with nothing to play for and the players just go for it, revelling in the liberty of expectations being banished until August.
This match was a fantastic example of the opposite: 22 players who look like they can’t wait for their summer break to start in May.
That is surely not actually the case for Forest, who have sparked talk of a late play-off push after an eight-game run featuring 22 goals scored, just one loss, and six wins, including victories over high-flying Bournemouth and Middlesbrough.
But if such speculation is to prove credible, Forest fans had better hope that this timid display turns out to be a mere blip in an extended good run.
They might also follow manager Dougie Freedman’s lead in observing that a point away from home is rarely a bad thing for any team.
He said: “I think because of the run we’re on, we have a group of players who feel they can come to Leeds and win, and they expect to win.
“The feeling in the dressing room is one of disappointment, but when I take a deep breath on Monday morning I think it’ll still be a good point, even though other teams lost around and about us.
“We had an outside chance of the play-offs before the game and we still do.
“The most exciting thing for me is that we’ve got to play Wolves and Brentford in the next four games, and we’ll soon see where we are after those games.
“I wouldn’t say it’s in our hands, but we’ve still got that outside opportunity because we need to play those teams.”
Leeds had also looked dangerous going into this game, moving well clear of the relegation zone with a run of seven wins in their previous ten games.
But they showed why midtable has been the limit of their ambitions this year, with some nice football in the first half giving way to a tedious second spell – a pity in front of Leeds’ largest crowd for 13 months, with more than 30,000 in attendance at Elland Road.
Charlie Taylor had the best effort of the game just 11 minutes in, with Karl Darlow coming off his line to close down the youngster’s shot from a narrow angle.
Forest winger Michail Antonio should have done better on three separate occasions, throwing the Leeds defence into disarray with good dribbling on the counter attack before ending each run with a frustratingly tame effort on goal that caused United no trouble.
Forest’s only dangerous looking strike – a low Chris Burke effort in the 73rd minute – was kept out by Marco Silvestri.
Leeds substitute Mirco Antenucci then tested Darlow six minutes from time with a decent low follow-up to Alex Mowatt’s blocked shot.
United boss Neil Redfearn said: “It was probably the right result. “I thought we had the best chance of the game, the one that fell to Charlie Taylor, and I think he should have scored if I’m honest.
“And then chances were few and far between.
“There was some good play and both sides played well, both tight at the back.
“When I took the job full-time, my remit was just to keep us in the Championship, because I think we were two points above the drop.
“So to get ourselves in this position with nine games to go now is an achievement for everybody at the club.
“Because it was looking dicey at one point.
“Obviously we want to try and build on this now and take some confidence into next season.”
GREAT SCOTT: Scott Wootton tussles with Forest’s Michail Antonio. Inset: Charlie Taylor of Leeds United has a shot saved by Karl Darlow