Leeds United’s six-match unbeaten home run was ended as a second half goal from Nelson Castro Oliveira condemned them to a 1-0 defeat against Nottingham Forest.
The Whites played their part in a lively game that was better than some of their recent matches at Elland Road, but never really looked like scoring as they looked lightweight up front against one of the most solid defences in the Sky Bet Championship.
United boss Steve Evans adopted the same tactics that worked well in the cup win at Bolton and made one change from last week’s side with Liam Cooper back at centre-half in place of Sol Bamba.
His team made a decent start as Souleymane Doukara sent a header just wide from a Stuart Dallas cross and Charlie Taylor’s mis-hit cross almost embarrassed Forest keeper Dorus De Vries.
At the other end Forest’s lone frontman Oliveira sent an early warning of his danger with an angled shot that was comfortably saved by Marco Silvestri.
Liam Bridcutt fired a shot over from range for Leeds while Oliveira saw another shot easily saved and Jamie Ward hit a first time volley over.
Forest went close on 19 minutes when Gary Gardner’s 30-yard shot smacked off the crossbar and should have taken the lead shortly after as the ball fell luckily into the path of Robert Tesche, but he volleyed over.
Doukara got a shot in for Leeds that went wide and Dallas could not get any power into a header after being picked out by a decent cross.
After a decent first half the teams were applauded in at the break and United looked to keep the good work going into the second period as Scott Wootton saw a shot from the edge of the box saved by De Vries and Dallas sent a 25-yard effort wide.
Only a great tackle near his own goal by Charlie Taylor prevented Ward from putting the visitors ahead and soon after Ward saw his low shot from the edge of the box well held by Silvestri.
Doukara headed wide from a tight angle then Dallas and Taylor both saw strikes from distance saved by De Vries before Forest came up with the crucial first goal on the hour.
After the previously hard working Doukara was slow to react to a ball played into space on Leeds’ left, a cross was quickly played in and Oliveira found space between the centre-backs to get a good header in. Silvestri got his hand to it and almost pulled off a great save, but the ball went in off the post.
The first goal was always going to be important and it was hard work from this point for United against the well organised counter attacking visitors.
Doukara saw a deflected shot saved at two attempts by De Vries and substitute Mustapha Carayol created a few moments of danger for the Forest back line, but there were no more chances for Leeds.
Tesche and Ben Osborn had shots saved by Silvestri, but the visitors were happy to control the final 20 minutes and see the game out for the three points they just about deserved.
Leeds boss Steve Evans was frustrated at the defeat.
He said: “Credit to Forest, they had one good chance and took it. It was marginally offside, but we don’t get them when it was two or three yards so I don’t expect to get marginal decisions.
“I was frustrated and disappointed as well. We had enough good possession and enough good crosses to have scored today, but if ever there was a game that showed ho much we are missing Chris Wood that was it.
“We worked the ball and got into the final third easily. But we found ways of not opening the door.”
Leeds United 0
Nottingham Forest 1
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Silvestri, Wootton (Adeyemi 90), Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas (Carayol 70), Diagouraga (Erwin 81), Bridcutt, Cook, Antenucci, Doukara.
Nottingham Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills, Mancienne, Jokic, Ward (Burke 75), Vaughan, Gardner, Tesche, Osborn, Oliveira (Blackstock 88).
Referee: Scott Duncan.