Defeats and poor referees have become a regular occurrence at Forest in recent weeks. Yesterday proved to be the tip of the iceberg, as Forest fell to their heaviest defeat under Davies since the 5-0 loss at Burnley in March 2009.
We all know it was one poor decision that changed the game for the worse. That red card to Cohen completely took away all of Forest’s momentum and come 60 minutes it was all over.
Forest lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. An injury to McKenna meant Cohen would have to take on responsibilities of being the enforcer in midfield. Lynch and Tudgay also came back into the starting line up for Tyson and Konchesky(injured).
Forest played the first half with real intent and desire - a pleasant change from recent weeks.
The first chance for Forest came through a free kick from 17 yards out. Lewis McGugan chants were sung out in the away end as he could only hit the ball low into the wall – disappointing really as I was expecting him to lob it delicately over the wall.
Majewski went close shortly after with a shot from just outside the box that took a wicked deflection away for a corner – from the away end it looked like the shot was going to fly into the corner.
Forest were definitely the better team and came the closest to breaking the deadlock when a low Joel Lynch cross on the left went right across the face of goal and into Tudgay, who could only put it over. Tudgay should have done a lot, lot better as it was a glorious opportunity.
Snodgrass then forced Camp into a save after Leeds went on a quick break before an injury then followed to Anderson, who was replaced by McCleary. It was a shame really as Anderson had been one of the best players on the pitch and it’s now another name to the injury list.
Forest then had a fantastic opportunity to take the Leeds. Majewski produced some fantastic work on the left before cutting inside two Leeds defenders and cutting the ball back for Boyd. With Kasper Schmiechel nowhere to be seen Boyd had his shot blocked before the rebound fell to Tudgay who had his shot cleared off the line.
Less than 5 seconds after the ball was cleared off the line, Cohen made a tackle that would see him sent off. Cohen flew into a tackle on George McCarthey that sent the Leeds bench, players and crowd into frenzy. Granted Cohen left the ground two footed but by the time he made the tackle, he had one leg on the ground and won the ball before the man. After much consultation with his linesman, Halsey sent Cohen off – a totally ridiculous decision it has to be said. I’ve never seen Cohen fly into a tackle like that - maybe the momentum and delegation of playing the McKenna/Moussi role didn’t help - but it was never a red for me and that seems to be the views of most bar Leeds United and Simon Grayson, who seems convinced he’d have broken McCarthey’s leg.
The red card infuriated Forest fans and with every tackle made from that moment on, chants of “off, off, off” were sung in the away end.
Little else happened after that in the first half. Forest booed the ref and his assistants off and rumours of an altercation in the tunnel between Ned Kelly and some Leeds staff filtered through the ground.
Second half and Forest came out a different team. With no real tackler in the midfield, Leeds was allowed to waltz through and break easily – which became the story of the second half.
Within five minutes of the restart, Jonny Howson had put Leeds ahead. A fantastic through ball by Snodgrass found the advancing Lichaj who whipped in a cross for Howson to control and smash it home from six yards. Poor marking by Wes Morgan it has to be said.
Kris Boyd was shortly withdrawn for Nathan Tyson who’d add that bit of pace we’d been lacking up front.
But on the 58th minute, it was game over. A corner from Bannan found Bromby, whose header hit the post before Becchio nodded the rebound into the goal.
Leeds almost had a third when Snodgrass’ curling effort clipped the top of Camp’s crossbar and went over. Self destruction was an understatement.
But Forest pulled one back through sub McCleary who set the ball up onto his left foot and hit a sweet curling shot past the hapless Schmeichel from the edge of the box. A remarkable goal and one that will shut the McCleary haters up for a week at least.
The momentum was back with Forest for a short while who went all out attack after being boosted by their goal. A corner from Majewski saw Morgan force Schmeichel into a magnificent reflex save.
But in next to no time, Leeds killed any hopes of a Forest revival off with a great finish from Gradel. A long ball forward was cleared by Wes Morgan as far has Bradley Johnson. Johnson flicked it into Gradel who flicked the ball up and volleyed it past Lee Camp – a goal of pure class from a largely uninspiring player on the day.
Earnshaw came on to offer fresh ideas but Gradel was on hand to grab his second on 87 minutes and make it 4-1. Livermore turned his man to easily and hit the ball at Camp who could only parry. Becchio hit the follow up at Camp before Gradel finished it off. Camp should have saved the initial shot for me but in the end it was too late.
So 4-1 it finished and I can’t help but feel hard done by. With 11 men on the pitch we were totally dominant and I have no doubts we’d have won.
But it was same old Forest not being able to grab a goal when we’re on top in games. The poor decision cost us dearly but we should have defended three of the goals a lot better.
It’s no surprise Forest are appealing the red card but even if successful it won’t take away the fact we’ve lost ground on one of our rivals and now fallen out of the play offs altogether.
What we’re now left to rue is the reality of missing out on the play offs altogether. Our loss allowed Reading to climb into 6th with a game in hand. We’ve now put even more pressure on ourselves ahead of next weekend’s clash against Reading and with only 1 win in 11 games; I’m not feeling too confident we’ll get much from it.
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