29 August 2006
Championship side Leeds provided the opposition for the Reds final warm up game of the summer. Fans could have been forgiven for thinking this was the same inept group, that just failed to win a playoff place last season, when Leeds went in front after only 3 mins. The Forest defence were nowhere to be seen as Moore and former Forest favourite Steve Stone combined well. Stones pass found an unmarked Healy, who calmly slid the ball home. This looked all to familiar, but the Reds were just a little slow in coming off the starting blocks.
Forest began to play some neat football and were unlucky not to equalise when a good run from Tyson down the flank saw his cross met by Southall. who headed the ball down to Clingan. His shot went agonisingly close and just shaved the post. Grant Holt also had a good effort from 25 yards saved by the keeper Sullivan. Forest were looking comfortable in defence without seeing new boy Paul Smith being tested in goal. A deserved equaliser came 4 mins from the break. A Sammy Clingan cross was met by Grant Holt, who appears to head the ball home, but something of a scramble ensued and Tyson and Sullivan collided to see the striker nudge the ball in. It looked as though the ref was going to give a foul until eventually he signalled a goal. No less than the Reds deserved.
The half time catering at the ground shows no signs of improvement, just a new ploy to disguise the awful fayre with the smell of over cooked onions. The newly enforced no smoking ban was roundly ignored as smokers gathered in the concourse to carry out their illegal habit.
Forest made two changes at the break. Breckin and Cullip were replaced by Thompson and Lester, with Wes Morgan moving from right back to centre half. Forest came out and shook Leeds with an early goal after 2 mins of the restart. Julian Bennett hit the ball hard into the box, where Grant Holt rose above the United defence to head the ball home. Again Forest were playing tidy football, Lester was a nuisance to the Leeds defence and they looked comfortable at the back. On 54 mins Leeds were awarded a free kick. Paul Smith was still martialing his defence when Bakke hit the ball in the net, catching Forest unawares. Things were to get worse for the Reds as Clingan was challenged heavily in the air by Bakke. After a lengthy delay Clingan was stretchered off and replaced by Nicky Eaden.
The game was becoming very open and the sweltering heat had lessened as the tempo got higher. Stone could have put the visitors in front with a header that went just wide. Forest should have scored on 75, when Lester and Tyson worked well together on the edge of the box. The ball ended up at the feet of sub Neill Harris, who only came on a couple of mins earlier. He was caught like a startled rabbit in a cars headlights, he had acres of space and time, but could not decide whether to shoot or pass. In the end it appeared he did neither, a week and fumbled effort ended up in the hands of Sullivan. The Reds were to be harshly punished, as in the 80 min Bakke hit a ball into the box, that was cruelly deflected into his own net by Morgan. Southall came close in the dying moments, when he saw his header go just over the bar.
Forest may have lost, but they can take a great deal of heart from a solid performance. With the exception of Leeds first goal the Reds contained the Championship side well for most of the game and when going forward always looked a threat. It all gets underway for real in less than a week, when Forest welcome Bradford City to the City Ground. It's going to be a bumpy ride, so hold on tight.
Nottingham Forest: Smith, Cullip (Lester 46min), Bennett, Gary Holt, Morgan, Breckin (Thompson 46min), Tyson, Grant Holt (Harris 80min), Clingan (Eaden 67min). Subs not used: Pedersen, Padula.
Leeds United: Sullivan (Ward 87min), Kelly, Butler, Lewis (Morris 46min), Harding, Kilgallon (Gregan 46 min), Stone Bayly 70min), Carole, Bakke (Howson 90min), Moore (Backford 60min), Healy (Blake 65min).
Scorers. Nottingham Forest 2 (Tyson 41, Grant Holt 47), Leeds United 3 (Healy 3, Bakke 59, Morgan og 82)