The spoils are shared after 1-1 City Ground draw...
FOREST 1 (Oliveira 17), UNITED 1 (Byram 80)
Forest team: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills, Hobbs, Mancienne, Lansbury, Vaughan (Burke 83), Mendes (Ward 61), Osborn, Oliveira, O'Grady (Tesche 68). Subs: Evtimov, O.Burke, Trotter, Blackstock.
United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Byram (Coyle 90+2), Cook (Doukara 62), Bridcutt, Murphy, Dallas (Antenucci 77), Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Bamba, Adeyemi, Sloth.
Referee: James Linington
Booked: Mendes, Lansbury, Osborn (Forest), Byram, Bellusci (United)
Att: 27,551 (1,890 United)
The post-Christmas trip to Nottingham Forest saw United head coach Steve Evans name an unchanged starting line-up from the team that saw off Preston North End in a 1-0 win at Elland Road a week earlier. The only changes came on the substitutes' bench, where midfielders Tom Adeyemi and Casper Sloth were recalled into the squad. Adeyemi returned from a virus which saw him sidelined for the visit of Preston, while Sloth's involvement came as a reward for an impressive display in the Under-21s at the start of the week.
Leeds made a lively start at the City Ground, attacking from the off, and Lewis Cook was asking questions of the Forest defence just 30 seconds into the game with a surging run and cutback which Forest managed to clear as Stuart Dallas lost his footing inside the area.
Dallas then fired wide with a dipping effort from 20 yards out as United dominated the early possession stakes without testing goalkeeper Dorus De Vries in the Forest net. Chris Wood looked to turn a Dallas corner towards goal but the Forest defence managed to clear their lines before going on to break the deadlock at the opposite end after 17 minutes with their first sniff of goal.
Nelson Castro Oliveira was the man on the scoresheet, capitalising on a mix-up in the United defence following a long ball over the top to slot into an empty net with the simplest of finishes.
Leeds looked to respond, with Murphy slamming a first-time effort against a red shirt after the ball had rolled into his path on the edge of the area, before Oliveira led Forest’s pursuit of a second as he dragged wide from a tight angle 20 yards from goal.
United’s most likely source of danger appeared to be coming through Charlie Taylor’s runs down the left, and the full-back delivered a series of inviting crosses into the box – the best of which was headed over by Chris Wood just after the half-hour mark.
The closing stages of the first half saw Forest press forward, with Chris O’Grady twice denied in front of goal on the stroke of half-time, before the second period began in a similar manner as the hosts started on the front foot and won a dangerous-looking free-kick which Oliveira hammered over from 18 yards out.
Following his goalscoring display at Wolves 10 days earlier, Sam Byram was the target for most United deliveries into the box and the 22-year-old saw a couple of towering headers bounce wide before the biggest chance for Leeds fell to Wood on 54 minutes.
The striker raced onto a long ball over the top with De Vries caught in two minds whether to rush off his line or to stay put, but Wood hammered a first-time effort high and wide in a moment which summed up what was becoming an increasingly frustrating evening for United.
Murphy needed to be alert at the opposite end to clear O’Grady’s goalbound header off the line from a Forest corner, before Evans was prompted into his first change of the game just after the hour mark, introducing Souleymane Doukara for Cook in an attack-minded move.
But Forest, who had also brought on fresh legs in the shape of Jamie Ward and Robert Tesche, were still looking the more dangerous of the two as Ward stung the finger-tips of Silvestri with a powerful effort from the edge of the area.
Leeds always remained in the contest, though, and were able to grab an equaliser with 10 minutes remaining on the clock through the in-form Byram, who made it three goals from as many matches with a precise finish into the bottom corner after being found just outside the box.
Both sides then had chances to snatch all three points in a frantic finale, with substitute Mirco Antenucci turning a Scott Wootton cutback wide of the far post before Forest substitute Oliver Burke slammed the post at the opposite end, but there proved to be no further way through as United made it five unbeaten.