Leeds 2 Nottingham Forest 1: Warnock gets revenge as Whites hold on against Forest
16:30 GMT, 22 September 2012
Nottingham Forest's unbeaten start to the season was halted by Leeds at Elland Road on an afternoon when the home fans were given a nod towards a possibly brighter future.
After almost seven years of supporter unrest about his involvement with their club, United's supporters were told by veteran owner Ken Bates that talks over investment from four present Bahraini businessman are at an advanced stage, prior to a 90 minutes that saw their side score through Luciano Becchio and starting debutant Dom Poleon.
The success not only ended a two-game losing run for Leeds, but allowed manager Neil Warnock to avenge the 7-3 defeat at the hands of the same opposition in March that he described as one of the worst nights of his career.
On the right track: Luciano Becchio (centre) celebrates his goal for Leeds
He promised to return this year campaign with a side worthy of promotion and, should Bates stay true to his word, then he may well have new money with which to pursue that ambition.
Forest are a side already feasting on the wealth of Gulf owners and a lavish summer spending spree was one of the key reasons behind their previously unbeaten start.
Leeds: Kenny,Peltier (Varney 66), Lees, Pearce, Drury, /09/22/article-2207031-15250382000005DC-172_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Vision of the future: Leeds chairman Ken Bates (above) hosts potential Bahraini investors (front)” class=”blkBorder” />
Vision of the future: Leeds chairman Ken Bates (above) hosts potential Bahraini investors (front)
Forest responded through Simon Cox, with the striker working Paddy Kenny at his near post, before Tom Lees headed a pinpoint El Hadji Diouf corner wide at the other end.
Diouf was the man Warnock turned to in the summer when captain and playmaker Robert Snodgrass left for Norwich and the Senegal international has not disappointed his manager so far with a string of impressive performances.
He added to that in the 15th minute when he laid on the opening goal, cutting in and standing up a cross that hung in the air and eventually fell for Becchio who duly made it seven for the season.
Up for it: Leeds' Dominic Poleon (right) challenges Nottingham Forest's James Coppinger
Diouf was causing Forest all sorts of problems as he flipped between playing up front and on the wing but, for all of his poise on the ball, he has never been renowned as a lethal finisher and so it proved in the 23rd minute.
The former Liverpool man broke in to the box on the back of a Poleon lay-off but could only roll in a shot that was blocked easily, although it mattered little two minutes later as the roles were reversed.
Diouf pulled a long clearance out of the sky and immediately threaded a ball through that put Becchio in on goal and, although the Argentinean dallied too long, Poleon was on hand to ram in from 12 yards.
Forest's response was muted with an Andy Reid free-kick and a James Coppinger long-ranger the best they could muster, and the would have been three down at the break had Becchio not blazed over from six yards.
That miss would cause Leeds' anxiety levels to rise after the break too for, with an hour gone, Greg Halford launched a long throw which Kenny lost in the sun, allowing Blackstock to head in.
Forest had discovered Leeds' Achilles heel – the long throw – and Halford quickly deployed it again, with Kenny this time scrambling to tip over, and the goalkeeper redeemed himself further with a sprawling denial of Lewis McGugan's 75th-minute curler.
They would continue to pepper the Leeds box with crosses but, as time ticked on, including six additional minutes, their resolve weakened and United held on.