Nottingham Forest 1-0 Leeds: Premier League – as it happened

Last modified: 04: 20 PM GMT+0

Brennan Johnson’s sweet first-half strike nabbed three points for Forest in a relegation six-pointer that Leeds largely dominated

That’s your lot, then. Forest narrowly achieve a result that feels so important for both sides’ hopes of staying up. In fairness to Marsch, Leeds were generally impressive, but they need a cutting edge from somewhere. They certainly need Rodrigo back ASAP and must hope that Georginio Rutter settles in nice and quickly. Thanks for reading and emailing, see you next time.


Will Unwin was our man on the scene at the City Ground, and his match report is here, hot off the digital press:


Lots of credit to Steve Cooper for Forest’s defensive shape and discipline. As Johnson said they never really looked in trouble, despite the fact that Leeds had so much possession.

Navas was excellent in goal on debut and made some decent saves and McKenna and Boly were very solid in central defence.

Leeds? Well, they huffed and puffed …

Tottenham v Manchester City is kicking off in under half an hour.

Rob Smyth is live-blogging it right here:

Morgan Gibbs-White has a chat with Sky Sports: “It’s massive. All the work we did in the week, was massive … we knew today was going to be a massive fight, Leeds were very tough today, a strong side … but I feel like we fought back, and got the better of them. And we got the three points in the end.

“After we went 1-0 up we knew it was about game management … I feel like we defended incredibly … fair play to the defence, they were unbelievable today. You know, it’s just about game management.

“[My fitness] was touch and go … but I’ve been working hard in training trying to get back fit and luckily enough I was.”

Johnson, Forest’s match winner, chips in: “Leeds are really intensive … they were going to make it really hard for us. But yeah, getting that first goal was vital.”

Why is it clicking for Forest? “I think not just me, the whole team. Even the games when we don’t have much of the ball. We didn’t really look like conceding today … everyone was unbelievable to a man. And hopefully we can continue it.”

A lot of huffing and puffing from Leeds,” says Souness on pundit duty for Sky.

Full-time! Nottingham Forest 1-0 Leeds

A moment of top quality by Brennan Johnson wins it. Leeds will wonder how they came away with nothing there. Big, big win for Forest.

Cooper’s men have a six-point cushion above the bottom three now. Any more of this and they will be sailing towards mid-table respectability.


90 min + 4: Johnson, the goal scorer, makes a charging run down the right wing. Time is up. The fans whistle. Leeds have one more chance to bring it forward. McKenna clears. Forest win!

90 min + 2: Leeds have a free-kick in an advanced area on their right wing. Meslier comes up for it. Forest half-clear. The ball drops to Summerville on the edge of the box. He bends a limp effort vaguely in the direction of goal. It flies harmlessly wide. The home fans roar … again.

90 min: There will be four added minutes.

89 min: Williams off, Andre Ayew on for Forest. How’s this for a career path?

2007–2015 Marseille
2008–2009 → Lorient (loan)
2009–2010 → Arles-Avignon (loan)
2015–2016 Swansea City
2016–2018 West Ham United
2018–2021 Swansea City
2018–2019 → Fenerbahçe (loan)
2021–2023 Al Sadd
2023– Nottingham Forest


88 min: Forest’s Aurier shepherds a ball out for a goal kick. Marsch looks ashen-faced on the sideline. A woman in the Leeds end is pictured shaking her head. Which is understandable.

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch reacts.
Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch reacts. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters


86 min: Forest are encamped deep in Leeds territory, which is just how they like it. They win a couple of throw-ins on their left wing. The home fans yell: “Come on you Reds.” This will do very nicely … for Forest. But can Leeds snatch the goal, and the point, they they so clearly deserve?


84 min: Forest continue to keep their shape and keep Leeds at bay. The crowd urges them on. Three points here moves them up one place to 13th and level with Palace.

“This has all the hallmarks of a six-pointer,” says Bill Leslie, on commentary for Sky.


80 min: Leeds have had 71% possession. And four attempts on target to Forest’s two.

This will be a smash-and-grab raid by Forest, if such a thing is possible when you’re at home.


79 min: Leeds continue to push in slightly frantic fashion. Summerville runs down the left but is flagged offside.

77 min: Surridge threatens again on the left as Forest look to hit on the break. Wober fouls him near halfway and is booked. Lodi pumps the free-kick into the penalty area. Meslier punches but Forest keep it alive and the ball comes to Surridge, who bends a cultured right-footed shot looking for the far top corner. It’s just high and wide.


74 min: Leeds build from the back. A diagonal ball is pinged out to the Leeds right by Wober but immediately repelled by Forest. Surridge is on the move down the hosts’ left wing, and the Leeds goalie Meslier comes rushing out of goal to clear, but the Forest man was offside anyway.


70 min: Summerville (nickname: Jimmy?) helps a cross over from the Leeds right towards Rutter. Rutter brings it down with his back to goal but is soon crowded out. Leeds attack again and Colback gets his foot in with a tackle from behind, on the fringes of the penalty area, that looks rather like a foul … but the referee lets it go.

The Forest forward Chris Wood, who has barely had a kick all day, comes off for Sam Surridge.


68 min: Leeds get plenty of bodies forward again. They are massed in the Forest area. But a pass goes astray, and Cooper’s men can clear. This is either going to finish 2-0 or 1-1, I fancy.


65 min: Now Gnonto loses the ball and Struijk soon fouls Johnson, who is haring through into space on the Forest right around halfway. The home fans cry “OFFF!” – Struijk was booked early doors – but the referee keeps his cards in his pocket.

Struijk is however immediately hooked by Marsch, Firpo coming on. Bamford also goes off, with the Whites’ record signing, Georginio Rutter, coming on.


64 min: Gnonto is still full of running down the Leeds left. He turns and tries to get in behind but the ball rolls out for a throw to Forest. The home fans cheer. Leeds, in keeping with their upbeat manager, continue to probe for an opening. They aren’t done by a long way.

Wilfried Gnonto of Leeds United controls the ball on the wing.
Wilfried Gnonto of Leeds United controls the ball on the wing. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images


61 min: Forest win a free-kick after Aurier is fouled on the hosts’ right wing. Gibbs-White powers it into the box, but it misses everyone, and Leeds try to break out. They quickly lose the ball again, Aurier involved once more. The tempo is still pretty high but there isn’t much rhythm to the game. Mind you, Forest are not being overrun in midfield in the way they were before the break.


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56 min: Weston McKennie comes on for his Leeds debut. Crysencio Summerville also joins the fray. Has there ever been a more handsomely-named double substitution?

Sinisterra and Roca go off. If Leeds end up losing this it will be a bitter pill for Marsch. They have been impressive. But they just haven’t had enough cutting edge. (Yet.)


53 min: Williams sprints into space down the middle and almost through on goal for Forest. Ayling desperately tries to track his run … and he does so, more or less, although Williams still manages to twist away and clip a diagonal shot that he gets underneath. It swerves over the crossbar.


51 min: Boly goes in the book for another cynical foul, a trip on Adams of Leeds. He was sailing close to the wind in the first half and the referee, Robert Jones, runs out of patience.

48 min: Aurier gives away a free kick soon after coming on. Leeds have a free kick that is lofted into the danger area from the Forest right. Sinisterra heads it goalwards, and Navas saves.

Leeds are getting in the right areas, but they look short on real, genuine, actual goal threat.

47 min: Rainforest Trust UK are a charity partner of the Green Football Weekend, and they are inviting fans to pledge a small donation for every goal scored in the Premier League and Women’s Super League over the weekend. All money raised will be used to protect threatened rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon. It only costs 75p to save half a football pitch of rainforest per goal scored – click here to find out more and to make your pledge.

Second half kick-off!

Colback and Aurier have come on for Forest, with Danilo and Mangala off.

Half-time! Nottingham Forest 1-0 Leeds

Leeds did everything but score. Forest did next to nothing, except score. That’s football.

See you in a few, here’s some half-time reading:

45 min + 2: Forest make a rare trip towards the Leeds goal. Nothing comes of it, and suddenly Sinisterra is haring through the middle at pace. He has Bamford on his left, and tries to find him with an angled ball. It takes a little deflection and then squirts off Bamford’s shin and away from him to safety from Forest’s point of view. That looked completely “village” from Bamford but to be fair the ball took a little nick off a Forest leg on its way to him, so it was a difficult one to control.


43 min: Leeds, again, are pushing and pushing. There’s a ludicrous mix-up between Neco Williams and Boly who both gravitate towards a ball over the top, on the Leeds left. Williams tries to clear but only heads it into the path of Gnonto, who has space to advance on goal after the two Forest defenders went for the same ball. Gnonto bangs an angled shot straight at Navas and the former Real Madrid man is equal to the task.


39 min: Leeds threaten yet again. A deep cross is whipped to the far post for Ayling, who directs a perceptive header back across goal, hoping for someone to get on the end of it. Navas dives to try and beat it out, but sustains a head injury in the process, accidentally making contact with the leg of a teammate. The medics come on to dish out a bit of treatment and the Costa Rican gloveman is in a fit state to continue.


35 min: Big, big chance for Leeds! Gnonto creates it again, he’s a constant threat, and makes a good run down the left having been released by Bamford. He cuts a low ball back inside for Bamford, who has continued his run … but the forward produces a hideous mis-kick in trying to divert a first-time shot on goal. The ball nevertheless bounces across for Ayling, who hits a powerful goal-bound effort, left-footed and first-time, that is beaten out by Navas!

Keylor Navas in goal for Forest.
Keylor Navas in goal for Forest. Photograph: Graham Wilson/Action Plus/REX/Shutterstock


34 min: I sense there may be liberal use of the phrase ‘huff and puff’ in match reports of this one. Leeds are doing most of the huffing and puffing, but they continue to make limited progress when it comes to threatening the Forest goal. Marsch looks increasingly frustrated on the touchline.

31 min: After the foul by Danilo, Leeds pump a free-kick goalwards. Ayling then floats a good ball for Gnonto on the Leeds left, who meets it first time and cushions a pass towards the near post. Sinisterra is there to meet it with a left-footed shot from point-blank range … but he gets right underneath it and the ball balloons high and wide over the crossbar! The Forest fans roar with delight. Gnonto looks disgusted with that, having put the ball on a plate for his teammate.


30 min: Weston McKennie, on loan from Juventus, is pictured on the bench for Leeds. He looks cold.

Danilo now goes in the referee’s notebook for a foul on Struijk in midfield.


28 min: Bamford makes a run, and is cynically body-checked by Boly. He crumples to the turf and looks around at the ref. Nothing doing. Boly is involved again seconds later, this time crunching into a tackle on Adams.

25 min: It was Struijk who gave away the free-kick that led to Forest’s goal, and he was booked for his trouble, for a challenge on Johnson. Given it was his poor header that gave Johnson a chance to score moments later, that wasn’t the most distinguished couple of minutes of the defender’s career.

23 min: Now it’s Leeds’s turn to float a dangerous cross into the penalty area from a set piece. Navas comes a long way off his line and attempts to punch, but doesn’t get a decent contact on the ball. He does manage to make contact with his teammate, Boly, accidentally. The ball squirts forwards but then bounces back to Navas who rather fortunately claims it … Boly needs a bit of treatment, but is OK to continue.


20 min: Leeds threaten down the middle with Bamford, who looks to turn inside his marker and sprint into space, but he doesn’t appear to have the pace to pose any kind of threat such a long way from goal.

Forest take it down to the other end and Gibbs-White cracks a shot from the edge of the box that is blocked by a Leeds body.


18 min: Sean Dyche is pictured sitting in the stands, sitting next to Ian Woan, now his assistant coach at Everton.

One understands why, because of their profile, Chelsea have attracted all the attention for their bran tub approach to player acquisition,” emails Richard. “However, in terms of numbers, if not cost, Forest seem to have outdone them. I find it hard to understand how Steve Cooper can decide what his best team might be, since there are an almost infinite number of possible combinations.”

Forest win a free-kick wide on their right. Gibbs-White bends a dangerous ball into the mixer. It’s half-cleared by Struijk, his attempted clearing header bouncing into the turf and floating invitingly up in the air … Johnson meets it with a sweet right-footed shot that flies into the bottom corner, always curling away from the dive of Meslier, who I think would have been beaten by the sheer pace of the shot regardless. A lovely strike. Very harsh on Leeds after the bright start they made.


Goal! 13 min: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Leeds (Johnson)

Forest have not been in the game, and now they are in the lead.

Nottingham Forest’s Brennan Johnson scores their side’s first goal of the game.
Nottingham Forest’s Brennan Johnson scores their side’s first goal of the game. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA
Johnson celebrates scoring.
Johnson celebrates scoring. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA


Please tell me Forest haven’t got the gall to be making any green football gestures, after flying to their cup game at Blackpool a month ago,” emails Thomas.

10 min: Forest have posed zero threat to the Leeds goal thus far. Marsch was talking up his team before the match, and in his press conference on Friday, and they do indeed look an accomplished outfit at the moment, passing crisply and with confidence and putting in plenty of running to try and stretch the home defence.


7 min: Gnonto does well to burst infield from the left wing for Leeds. He plays a good-looking square pass to Ayling. Ayling hits a shot from the edge of the area but it’s half-blocked and then cleared. It’s a slow start from Cooper’s men and he won’t be happy with the way Leeds are running this show so far.


5 min: The game hasn’t really settled down yet. There is loads of noise from both sets of supporters, although Leeds are enjoying more possession and territory in the early stages. Forest can’t impose themselves in midfield, they are half a second slower to everything.

2 min: A bit of a scruffy start, Mangala at least producing a good bit of skill in midfield for Forest to ghost past a couple of would-be tacklers …

Leeds attack, Bamford trying to flick on a bouncing ball for Sinisterra … the Colombian is suddenly in on goal, and stabs a low shot that Navas does well to keep out, low to his left. So nearly an ideal start for Marsch’s men.


First half kick-off!

Forest get us started. Plenty of noise from both sets of fans.

Meslier, in goal for Leeds, is referred to as “the customary Frenchman” on Sky.

The teams are lined up in the tunnel. We are under five minutes from kick-off.

Are you as excited as I am?

this is the funniest start to an interview i have ever seen i love robert smith man

— al (@_jxnesyy) March 30, 2019

Patrick Bamford of Leeds has a chat: “We’ve played well in patches in a lot of games … ideally we’ll get wins in the league, but winning in the cup breeds a bit of confidence …

“I’ve come back now in a much better mental and physical place. I am enjoying my football again.”

🎙 Patrick: "Winning in the cup breeds confidence"

— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 5, 2023

Jesse Marsch speaks: “Patrick [Bamford] is in his best form since I’ve known him … he’s playing with a lot of quality right now and scoring for fun.

“We also have Georginio on the bench … Weston has had a really good week of training and he will feature [as a starter] in one of the three matches we have this week.

“Points are at a premium right now … but I also try to reinforce a lot of positivity … I feel good about the process, and the progress that we’ve made. Now we need a result today to prove all that.”


It’s an interesting match up today for many reasons, between two clubs with a lot in common,” emails Jeremy. “As the song lyrics have it “the ties that bound us are still around us”, but let’s leave it there and not complete the verse: “There’s no escape that I can see.” They are both “loveable” sleeping giants who have finally and thankfully made it back to the big boys playground after a (too) lengthy absence, they both briefly threatened to break up the “big club” hegemony of their heyday periods, winning Cups and titles for fun. Both of the great sides featured their talismanic small-in-stature/huge-personality Scottish firebrand midfielders (Bremner/Gemmill). And then there’s Cloughie, the years at Forest, the 56 [was it 56 or 44? – Ed.] days at Leeds.

“I would include winning the European Cup in the ties, except some pedant would point out that Leeds didn’t. As all Leeds fans have know since that fateful evening in Paris, Leeds DID win the European Cup, but it was stolen from them by a dodgy refereeing decision and Gerd Müller. In an ideal world both of these teams will escape the drop, so a point each today would suit that narrative. All the same, as a life-long NastyLeeds supporter I am obviously for all 3 going to the whites. 2 - 0 Forest then.”

Sky Sports have just shown a feature about Green Football Weekend, which aims to encourage fans to take action on climate change and make sustainable choices.

Graeme Souness reveals that he hasn’t eaten meat for several years now, although more on ethical than environmental grounds.

I’ve got a funny feeling that this is going to be a really good game today.

What do you think? You can email me or tweet @LukeMcLaughlin

Rob Smyth is blogging Manchester United v Everton in the WSL right here – it’s deadlocked at 0-0 currently and into the final 20:


The deadline-day signing and three-times Champions League winner, Navas, is straight into the Forest starting lineup in goal. Felipe and Andre Ayew, another couple of new arrivals, are on the bench while Gibbs-White is back after an ankle injury earlier than expected. Danilo makes his first Premier League start for the club.

For Leeds, Patrick Bamford will lead the line – Jesse Marsch was talking up his current condition on Friday – while Weston McKennie is on the bench.

Nottingham Forest: Navas, Mangala, Williams, Gibbs-White, Johnson, Freuler, McKenna, Danilo, Boly, Lodi, Wood. Substitutes: Hennessy, Worrall, Colback, Lingard, Surridge, Aurier, Scarpa, Ayew, Felipe.

Leeds: Meslier, Ayling, Struijk, Cooper, Wober, Adams, Roca, Harrison, Sinisterra, Bamford, Gnonto. Substitutes: Robles, Firpo, Kristensen, Greenwood, Aaronson, Summerville, McKennie, Joseph, Georginio.

Your #NFFC side to face @LUFC at The City Ground. 🔢

— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) February 5, 2023

📋 #LUFC Starting XI to face Forest

— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 5, 2023


The Forest manager Steve Cooper has a chat with Sky Sports and is asked about their recent good run: “If I’m being honest we are only thinking of what’s next … we want to improve and strive to get better … We are only looking forward. It’s a great game to look forward to, and be part of.

“The supporters have been excellent. It’s something we’ve used well … that definitely helps. I just feel like we now know what we want to look like, and what we look like at our best.

“We’ve got to keep striving to improve that … we’ve always got that motivation to be at the level required … it’s a lot of work going on, a lot of focus … we’re only thinking about what’s next.”

Cooper is asked about Keylar Navas, who joined on loan from Paris Saint-Germain in January and is set to start today with Dean Henderson out. “He’s only been in for a couple of days,” says Cooper. “We’re delighted Keylar has joined us … he’s showed great humility and work rate … he’s really wanted to understand what the club is and how we play … he was very keen to come, which is non-negotiable with me. We are looking forward to working with him.”



Question: What do Brian Clough and Liz Truss have in common?

Answer: They both infamously held down a high-profile job for 44 days.

In fact, it may have been 45 for Truss, but let’s not get bogged down in the detail. In Clough’s case it was of course his time as manager of Leeds, a story so endlessly told and retold that it has become a cliche. On the weekend that Truss seemingly attempts to relaunch her frontline political career, however, I am claiming special dispensation. It’s very difficult to imagine the former PM mounting the kind of spectacular comeback that Clough achieved after being sacked by Leeds and taking over at Forest.

Anyway, Nottingham Forest v Leeds. Steve Cooper’s men are on a good run in the Premier League, unbeaten in four, with a couple of wins and a couple of draws. They were comfortably dispatched by Manchester United over two legs in the Carabao Cup semi-final, but there is no shame in that.

Leeds aren’t in such fine fettle results-wise, winless in four, although three of those were draws so things could be considerably worse. Jesse Marsch certainly talked a good game in his Friday press conference on the progress he feels is being made, and gave special mention to the form and fitness of Patrick Bamford. Leeds are 17th, Forest are 14th, and this promises to be a competitive affair that could go all the way up to 11.

Kick-off: 2pm



Luke McLaughlin

The GuardianTramp

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