By Andy Gregory
Saturday 22nd September 2012
Elland Road, Att: 24,292
Leeds 2 - 1 Forest
Becchio 14' Blackstock 59'
Team: Kenny, Lees, Peltier, Pearce, Drury, Byram, Austin, Tonge, Poleon, Diouf, Becchio
Subs: Ashdown, Kisnorbo, Brown, Payne, White (on for Poleon 66), Varney (on for Peltier 66),
Gray (on for Becchio 90)
We went into this game on the back of two defeats and were up against a Forest side unbeaten in the league this season. I for one was expecting an extremely tough game against them with our squad struggling with injurys, and before kick off would have been happy with a point.
Thankfully Warnock and the lads had different ideas and came out fighting from the start. There were a few changes from the Hull game, with Drury starting in place of White and Poleon making his first start for the club in place of Varney.
Paddy Kenny had a very good game for us and is proving to be one of Warnock’s best signings. He could have done better with Forest’s goal, but he kept us in the game with some excellent saves, particularly towards the end of the game when they were pushing for an equaliser. 7
Tom Lees moved over to right back for this game. In all honesty it wasn’t his best display, he wasn't as commanding as he has been this season and looked shaky at the beginning of the game. Still put in a decent enough shift in the end though. 6
Lee Peltier switched places with Lees and took a more central role, he and Pearce were strong in the centre and it was a big improvement on the last game. Another solid display from our captain, he rarely looked troubled until injury forced him off the pitch in the second half. 7
Jason Pearce had another good game, you know what you’re going to get from him.. He always gives 100%, he won everything aerially and put in a good shift. 7
Adam Drury came back into the team and never really put a foot wrong, a steady outing for the experienced left back. 6
Sam Byram started the game on the right of midfield and never stopped running, he always wanted the ball and was constantly causing the Forest defence problems. He moved back into defence after Peltier went off and stuck to his task well. 7
Michael Tonge worked hard in the middle, got stuck in and had a good game. 6
Rodolph Austin was once again fantastic for us today. He controlled the midfield, getting forward to help out in attacks and tracking back well to support our defence when he was needed. Fast becoming one of our most consistent and important players. 8
Dominic Poleon made his first start for the club, he looked lively and took his goal well. He was caught out a few times, but that is to be expected from someone so young. A good debut and hopefully a lot more to come from the youngster. 7
El Hadji Diouf played just behind Becchio again in the absence of McCormack. For me he was the best player on the pitch. He was at the centre of every good move we made, set up the first goal and his vision and movement were fantastic. His best game for us so far. 9
Becchio had a great game, worked hard and was a handful for the oppostion. He took his goal well, had a big part in the second and could have made it three just before half time. 7 in 7 now for him now, he is certainly getting back to his best and is a hugely important player for us. We desperately need him to maintain this form. 8
Luke Varney came on for the injured Peltier and didn’t really have any influence on the game. 4
Aidy White came on for Poleon and worked hard to get the ball forward using his pace, he also kept possession well with Austin and Diouf towards the end of the game. 6
Andy Gray came on late on for Becchio and didn’t have enough time to make an impact on the game.
It was a fantastic three points considering our injury problems and Forest’s record. The team battled hard and proved a few people wrong, you just can’t write Leeds off. Hopefully we can build on this now with games coming thick and fast. Next up Everton and it remains to be seen whether Warnock will play a strong team and go for it or rest a few ahead of some important league games.
Neil Warnock post match:
"We had no man of the match because it was a fabulous team performance."
“Every one of them worked their socks off. I was proud of them, especially when you consider that Forest had players worth about four or five million quid on the bench.
“It was an exciting game and you just couldn’t take your eyes away from it for a second.
“We’ve played some tough games so far and done well with the thin squad we’ve got.”
On Becchio: “It was a late decision to play him.
“Luciano is a tough cookie. He knew we were desperate for him to play, so he didn’t do much yesterday.
“I told him to take his missus shopping because we couldn’t risk him getting injured.”