Nottingham Forest finished 2013 with a 2-1 win over Leeds United, after a Matt Derbyshire wonder strike sealed all three points to earn back-to-back home victories over the festive period. James Bolton offers a fan’s eye view from the City Ground…

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Forest finished 2013 with a win after a Matt Derbyshire wonder strike sealed all three points to earn back to back home victories over the festive period.

There was one change to the Forest line-up for the visit of Leeds United; the injured David Vaughan was replaced by Radi Majewski, meaning Greg Halford continued up front.

Within 30 seconds, Halford latched onto an under-hit back pass, but Leeds goalkeeper Paddy Kenny came out to smother. The collision between the two meant Kenny had to receive treatment, but he essentially carried the knock for the whole game and couldn’t even take his own goal kicks.

A feisty opening saw us create the first chance of the game; nice interplay down the left between Eric Lichaj and Andy Reid eventually found Jamie Mackie in the box, but he scuffed his left-foot shot wide.

A quarter of the way through the game and we were given an opening. Michael Brown characteristically lunged through the back of Reid to give Forest a free-kick 35 yards out. Reid picked himself up to whip in a delightful ball into the far post where Halford rose highest to head home his second goal in as many games.

Despite the exertions of Boxing Day, Forest played with a high intensity and created lots of chances, carrying on where they left off against QPR. Reid sliced just over from the edge of the box after being played through by Majewski, and Abdoun failed to direct a Mackie cut back goalwards.

On a few occasions in and around the box we failed to make the right decision, which might have seen us kill the game off before the break, but on the whole our attacking play was very good with Reid at the heart of things. Majewski forced a fumbling near post save out of Kenny and Mackie fired just wide before the half drew to a close.

The second-half was scrappier, and we weren’t winning the ball as comfortably in the midfield area. Leeds were seeing more of the ball but weren’t creating any goalmouth opportunities.

The visitors were inches away from seeing any hopes of a comeback quashed after Reid let a Nathaniel Chalobah pass run across his body before unleashing a fierce left-foot shot which struck the post with Kenny helpless.

 

But Leeds did get themselves level when a small defensive lapse allowed Sam Byram into the Forest box, his square pass was cleared by Jamaal Lascelles but ricocheted off Karl Darlow and fell perfectly for the league’s top scorer Ross McCormack to sweep home.

We regained the lead in some style within 20 seconds of the restart. Henri Lansbury found Chalobah who played in substitute Matt Derbyshire who fired a terrific strike into the top corner of Kenny’s goal. It was a bolt from the blue that was fit to win any game of football.

For the final 10 minutes, Forest withstood any futile Leeds attempts to draw level again to cap off a fruitful Christmas period. In terms of individuals Reid showed his class yet again, Jack Hobbs was a rock at the back, Halford put in another dogged display up front and Lansbury was dominant in the centre of midfield in the absence of Vaughn.

I think in the last two games our work rate has been the key. We’ve been busy, in the opposition’s faces and not giving them time on the ball. It’s something I think we often struggle with ourselves, when we come up against that sort of intense pressing, so it’s nice to see us doing it.

So we enter the January transfer window in a very healthy position and the Billy Davies broken record once again called for more spending and more firepower post-match. A lot of pressure has been put on this window by the manager so let’s hope come the end of next month we’ve added the squad and are continuing to hang onto the coattails of our East Midlands rivals who currently occupy the top two.

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