Nottingham Forest look to bounce back against old foes Leeds United

Nottingham Forest striker Lewis Grabban. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.
Nottingham Forest striker Lewis Grabban. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.

The race for the Championship promotion places will take another turn this weekend as fourth-placed Nottingham Forest take on second-in-the-table Leeds United.

Forest have sneaked into the play-off shake-up with a seven-match unbeaten run which came to an end at Birmingham City last weekend, the Blues edging a close encounter at St Andrew's.

Having taken the lead through Tiago Silva's golden finish, the Reds missed the chance to go two-up when Lewis Grabban's penalty was saved by former Forest keeper Lee Camp in the Blues' net.

The home side responded inside 60 seconds through Scott Hogan and won it 16 minutes from time when Kristian Pedersen pounced from close range to condemn Forest to an unlikely defeat.

The Reds head coach Sabri Lamouchi couldn't hide his disappointment after the final whistle.

“I'm very disappointed because we started the game in the right way, we scored and we controlled the first 25 minutes,” said Lamouchi.

“The penalty changed everything because we should have gone into half-time 2-0 up but instead it was 1-1. I'm so upset and so disappointed because we gave them the three points.

“I don't know why that second-half performance happened. Maybe it was panic, maybe it was a lack of efficiency but we need to be more strong. If you give chances to the opponent then you will get punished and we did today. It was our fault we did not win this game today.

“Tuesday night [Brentford] we had the character and the resilience to see the game out but this afternoon we didn't. This is what I was talking about before the game, if you want to end the season as one of the top two teams in the league then you have to show consistency, both in performances and in results.

“I'm struggling to stand here and explain why the level of the performance went from so good to so poor but all I can say is that it is our fault. We had this game in our hands, it was there for the taking and we've given it away and that is why I'm so disappointed.”

Lamouchi will be looking for a response from his players when old foes and promotion rivals Leeds United arrive Trentside on Saturday.

Forest’s recent record against Leeds can be a source of encouragement, with the Reds unbeaten in their last four meetings. They won the same fixture last season, in a 4-2 victory, which swung one way and then the other before Jack Colback, Daryl Murphy and Ben Osborn struck to seal a home win for Forest.

The two sides drew 1-1 earlier in the campaign, as Grabban cancelled out Pablo Hernandez’s opener for Leeds at Elland Road.

Lamouchi has options if he wants to mix things up with January signings Adama Diakhaby, Nuno Da Costa and Gaetan Bong all looking for their first start since joining the club.

While striker Tyler Walker was recalled from his loan spell at Lincoln City having shown his scoring prowess in League One in the first half of the campaign.

Walker, 23, is in red hot form having scored six times for the Imps since Christmas.

Walker said: “I’m really happy to be back. The club’s pushing forward for promotion and I’m looking forward to being part of it.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time out on loan and feel like I’ve done what I needed to, to come back and help out.

“I’m looking forward to scoring goals for Forest.

“The fans have shown a lot of love, I’m delighted, and hopefully I can repay that faith.”

Leeds, meanwhile, have been among the division's pacesetters all campaign as Marcelo Bielsa looks to complete a top-flight return for one of English football's biggest sleeping giants.

They have won just one of their last five matches, however, drawing one and losing three - the latest of which came at home to relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic last time out.

It's set up to be a mouthwatering clash at the City Ground on Saturday in front of the Sky television cameras (5.30pm kick off).