Mark Halsey - man of the match for Leeds this afternoon...
Leeds United – 4
Nottingham Forest – 1
With cash-flow a little stagnated at nffcblog towers, I decided to opt to take advantage of the Leeds United documentary that the BBC televised that happened to feature our match against them as an afterthought, rather than go for a pricey trip to Elland Road. It sounds a bit embittered, but good lord it was certainly the Leeds United Show and make no mistake about it!
I know that we should try to avoid banging out about officials – but I hope this ‘performance’ from Mark Halsey is seriously examined by the powers-that-be, because it was pathetic. Not just in Cohen’s sending off, the crowning turd on a cess-pit of a performance, but missing fouls on Camp and Morgan for the second and third Leeds goal, for booking our players and not even punishing theirs. It was awful.
The headline for this game, and probably the decisive factor was the ridiculous sending off of Chris Cohen, who – after Marcus Tudgay had missed probably our best chance of the game – executed a brilliant tackle on George McCartney, unfortunately the shameful reaction of him, the Leeds United bench, the fans and the linesman who ultimately gave the decision resulted in the unfair dismissal of Cohen.
I would hope Forest will appeal the decision, but knowing the authorities track record they would probably uphold the decision and increase the suspension – and of course they won’t do anything about the disgraceful conduct of Simon Grayson, his staff – and indeed his players. Meh. I suppose that we all know that life isn’t fair! With injuries still a problem, Billy went for the following formation:
Gunter Morgan Chambers Lynch
Majewski Cohen McGugan
Tudgay Boyd Anderson
Sort of, it looked more like a 4-5-1 than a 4-3-3 much of the time. Leeds United lined up with a similar formation, with a few notable differences..
Lichaj O’Brien Bromby McCartney
Bannan Howson Johnson
Linesman Referee Linesman
Gradel Becchio Snodgrass
A little bit of bitterness perhaps, but certainly the ‘balance’ of the coverage from the supposedly unbiased BBC made me wish I had forked out to travel up to Yorkshire instead! I stand by the fact that for key decisions we were let down big time by the officials who let the home crowd and Leeds United bench influence them. I don’t tend to get drawn into the ‘dirty Leeds’ chatter too much, but boy did they live up to that moniker today.
As the players prepared to get into position in the line-up I noticed one of the Leeds players had a bit of a cuddle with the referee rather than just the handshake his team-mates had with him. It didn’t really mean much at the time, but maybe there was more to it? (I don’t actually think so, I’m just joking, I simply think that Halsey is a gutless and clueless official ‘assisted’ by two similarly hopeless linesmen).
The very early stages of the game saw the home side mounting a bit of pressure on us – Bradley Johnson fluffed his lines a bit when through, allowing Camp to make the save. Despite failing to take the advantage after an earlier foul by Morgan on Becchio, the referee decided to bring play back regardless to give the home side another opportunity. Gradel spannered the resulting freekick over the bar.
Forest started to come more into the game though, a foul by George McCartney on Anderson gave us a freekick of our own, which Lewis McGugan struck powerfully, but straight into the wall. At the other end Aston Villa loanee Barry Bannan struck a powerful shot which bounced awkwardly just infront of Camp, who spilled it but gathered comfortably with Leeds players opting not to gamble, fortunately for us.
Another piece of refereeing buffoonery saw him see, but discount a blatant handball in the penalty area by Robert Snodgrass, bizarrely giving Leeds a freekick for a push by a Forest player that existed only in his imagination. In the interests of balance, we were probably awarded two or three throw-ins that looked like they were actually Leeds throw-ins. Real key decisions went our way, eh?
We really started to play more positively now – although in that typical Forest style of a lot of play but not too much by way of chances. A Majewski effort deflected and curled wickedly towards the top corner, but was just wide and out for a corner, a little later a great run down the left from Lynch saw him put the ball across the goal, finding Tudgay at the back stick who had a difficult chance, but really should’ve done better than to miss the target.
Leeds too were still proving a threat – Snodgrass did really well to trick his way in the box – indeed, it looked like Chambers clipped him to me but he stayed on his feet, and ultimately his shot was a tame effort straight at Lee Camp. Shortly after Anderson took a knee in the ribs, which funnily enough the referee didn’t notice, after a lengthy spell of treatment he did return to the pitch but was substituted for Garath McCleary on around the half hour mark.
The half hour mark was to be a pivotal moment for the match. Majewski picked up the ball on the left and tricked his way brilliantly past two defenders and into the area, Tudgay peeled back to space and Raddy picked him out perfectly. Tuds really should’ve done a lot better than to take a snap shot which was cleared off the line – he had time to look up and pick his spot. Very frustrating.
Not as frustrating as what was to come though – as the ball broke from Forest’s last attack George McCartney raced towards the ball as did the covering Chris Cohen. With the ball bouncing Chris Cohen dived in excellently winning the ball, George McCartney ended up standing on the ball, falling over and clattering Cohen – if anything, it was a foul by the Leeds defender (in reality, it was a good tackle and Leeds throw).
After a massive tantrum from Simon Grayson and his bench, soon joined by the players on the pitch, the referee consulted the linesman who clearly saw the same fictitious foul that the Leeds United bench did. The red card was produced and Forest were reduced to ten men most unfairly, even Danny ‘Dark Satanic’ Mills who was as Leeds-biased as you like conceded it only warranted a yellow – the general consensus was it shouldn’t have even been a foul.
Despite the setback, it was Forest who continued to have the better of the half – a freekick from a challenging angle was well struck by Lewis McGugan and punched away by Schmeichel, and at the death of the half Garath McCleary had a decent effort which brought a diving save from the Leeds keeper. As the whistle went, Billy did his best to gee up the Forest supporters who’d been in decent voice.
The second half didn’t quite go according to plan – just six minutes on the clock and Leeds skipper Jonny Howson had despatched a decent ball into the box from Lichaj past Lee Camp. A real blow, a certainly I can’t think that quite such a gap would have been present for Lichaj to run into had we got a full quota of players on the pitch, certainly Cohen’s ability to operate defensively was sorely missed.
Billy took off the largely ineffective Kris Boyd and introduced Nathan Tyson to give us a different attacking dimension, however, it still wasn’t really going our way. A decent corner in found Bromby whose header struck the post and fell for Becchio who – fresh from pushing Lee Camp over – basically had an empty goal to head into. Of course, the referee didn’t see the push.
The home side really had their tails up now, and were threatening regularly – and Snodgrass was really unlucky to see an excellently taken effort which dipped viciously, having Camp totally beaten, but struck the bar and went over. Then, out of nowhere, Garath McCleary cut inside and from inside the box unleashed an excellent curling left-footed shot right into the top corner.
Shortly after this from a Majewski corner the Leeds keeper Schmeichel misjudged his jump, but he adjusted really well to block a slightly unconventional attempt on goal from Wes Morgan. Alas, there was a sucker-punch from this good work at a comeback from the Reds, and Leeds increased their lead – Snodgrass looked to have fouled Wes for me, which was ignored (of course), and the latter’s clearance fell for Gradel who finished smartly from the edge of the area.
The final change for Billy was probably really the only sensible choice he had open to him, to introduce Earnshaw for Tudgay. It wasn’t really happening for us though, Chambers knocked one down in the area and Tys was only able to put a powerful effort just wide. The final kick in the knackers came at the end, Camp saved well from Becchio, then even saved a follow-up, but couldn’t prevent the third attempt from Gradel into the goal.
At some point after this Gunts took a tumble in the box, whilst Martin Keown seemed sure he’d taken a dive I thought there was contact. Either way, there’s no way the referee was going to give it (I suppose, really, we should be grateful that he didn’t opt to book Gunts too). The game finished with five Forest bookings to Leeds one, one red card, two penalty appeals denied, two fouls on Forest players before Leeds goals – and one bloody awful performance from the officials.
On the plus side, we did probably get awarded three throw-ins that probably should have gone to the home side.
In fairness the BBC did actually see fit to reflect that 4-1 was flattering to Leeds, and indeed the general consensus was that the red card was both wrong, and a pivotal moment of the game. They even found time to interview the Leeds United captain, and two-goal-scorer Gradel and the graceless Leeds United manager, Simon Grayson. Of course, they didn’t bothering their arse wasting any time on interviewing a Nottingham Forest player, or the manager.
This was, after all, the Leeds United show. It would have been interesting to see how the game would have panned out if we had eleven men (and indeed, if Leeds didn’t have fourteen), because we looked good in the first half. With ten men they were too strong for us though, and it’s no surprise they finished up with a convincing scoreline.
It’s a real blow in promotion campaign terms – hopefully the injustice of events this afternoon combined with players returning from injury will help to galvanise the boys to at least attempt what will have to be a fairly momentous turnaround in form if we are to retain any hope of pushing for second spot. Indeed, we will need some kind of turnaround in form to retain a play-off spot.
Thanks a lot, Mark Halsey.
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