Nottingham Forest 1 Leeds United 0

Last updated : 07 February 2023 By .

It is not about recruitment or man-management, it is not about bad luck, bad refereeing or bad injuries. This is about coaching and Jesse Marsch is Leeds' head coach.

Leeds United were better than Nottingham Forest in lots of aspects of Sunday's game at the City Ground.

If Marsch can get the details sorted, the rest is there for the makings of a good team. But the longer the winless streak goes on – no victories against Premier League opposition since November – the bigger the "if" becomes.


That we have been there before so often this season made for a very frustrating afternoon in the east Midlands.

Leeds started the sharper, surprisingly against a Forest side in good form – although of course there was some getting to know one another after yet another transfer window splurge.

The best of their signings looked like former Real Madrid goalkeeper Navas and he was batting Leeds off as early as the second minute, saving from Luis Sinisterra, out on the right wing.

As usual, most of what was good about Leeds came through Willy Gnonto and when he nutmegged Danilo and teed up Luke Ayling, the right-back's shot was blocked.

Max Wober, the left half of a centre-back partnership with Liam Cooper put in one terrific tackle, but it was Leeds making all of the early running. So of course it was Forest who went ahead.

Pascal Struijk picked up a booking and Forest a free-kick. Morgan Gibbs-White delivered it and Struijk's ducking header was poor, picking out the man he fouled for Brennan Johnson to smash in a brilliant half-volley.

Gibbs-White hit a Johnson pull-back into Struijk's shins as Leeds took a while to clear their heads but once they did, they dictated again.

They could curse the Navas saves which frustrated them but did not help themselves, with awful misses from Sinisterra and Patrick Bamford as Gnonto laid on chances for them.

The Colombian ballooned over from yards out, Bamford miskicked his completely after an excellent move where he was the link between Jack Harrison and Gnonto. The ball fell to Ayling, whose effort was saved, as he did from Gnonto.

Illan Meslier's unpunished rush of blood as he dashed out of his area in first-half stoppage time underlined the feeling that defensive errors were more likely than goal from Leeds players.

When Sinisterra anticipated well to win the ball and thread it to Bamford, the striker needed an elegant touch but produced an elephant's.

With a 1-0 lead to defend, Forest got progressively less ambitious throughout the second half and for all Leeds saw lots of the ball, and for all that Marsch dipped into the "arsenal of weapons" lined up on his bench, Navas' second half was much quieter than his first.

Siniserra called him into action at a 52nd-minute free-kick and Bamford's shot when played in by Crysencio Summerville did not make it past the wall of defenders in front of him.

But apart from that there was disappointingly little to report as Summerville, debutant Weston McKennie, club record signing Georginio Rutter and Sam Greenwood joined the fray.

So did Junior Firpo, and Leeds were fortunate he was able to replace Struijk, who escaped a second yellow card for his body-check on Johnson as his replacement waited for the ball to go out.

Meslier almost made it harder too, punching a cross ripe for catching and seeing Sam Surridge curl wide.

Leeds are making it far too hard for themselves right now. They are not good enough to get away with it.

Nottingham Forest: Navas; N Williams (Ayew 90), Boly, McKenna, Lodi; Freuler; Danilo (Colback 46), Mangala (Aurier 46); Gibbs-White; Johnson, Wood (Surridge 72). 

Unused substitutes: Worrall, Lingard, Hennessey, Scarpa, Felipe.

Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling, Cooper, Wober, Struijk (Firpo 67); Adams, Roca (McKennie 56); Sinisterra (Summerville 56), Harrison (Greenwood 83), Gnonto; Bamford (Rutter 67). 

Unused substitutes: Aaronson, Robles, Kristensen, Fernandez.