Nottingham Forest 1 Leeds United 0
Nottingham Forest have waited for over two decades to stage Premier League football, and the City Ground is becoming their fortress.
Forest have not lost here in the league since September 16 after securing a nervy yet crucial victory over Leeds which increases the scrutiny on Jesse Marsch.
It was at the start of November when Leeds last won in the league, and they are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference.
Marsch’s players were left to rue the presence of Forest debutant Keylor Navas, the three-time Champions League winner, who has signed on loan from Paris St-Germain.
The Costa Rican goalkeeper was outstanding to keep Leeds at bay and boost Forest’s chances of survival.
What Marsch would do for a run like Forest, who climbed into 13th place after Brennan Johnson’s well-taken volley. Leeds now face Manchester United twice in the league in the next six days, starting at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
“I take full responsibility, and I have to find a way to turn performances into winning,” said Marsch. “I understand the frustration and doubts, and I accept it. I have to turn the good things into results, or we find ourselves in a stressful situation.”
While Leeds did deserve at least a point, Steve Cooper’s excellent work at Forest continues.
This was not one of their best performances in front of their own supporters; fortunately, Navas was in excellent form.
Cooper said: “He’s a winner and has great experience, but he will still have wanted to do well in his first game at a new club. He was brilliant in the first half, and he deserves all the credit for the saves. I loved his composure and his decision-making; all he’s shown since coming here is a desire to jump on board.”
Forest had appeared nervy from the start, with Navas called into early action after two minutes to save from Luis Sinisterra, but they took the lead with their first attack.
It was a fine finish from Johnson, with the Wales international hooking in a volley after Morgan Gibbs-White’s free-kick was half-cleared.
Leeds should have equalised in the 31st minute, but Sinisterra sliced a shot high and wide after Willy Gnonto found space in the box.
Leeds continued to create chances, but Navas was proving outstanding, saving from Luke Ayling and Gnonto.
Marsch made changes early in the second half, with Weston McKennie and Georginio Rutter introduced for their debuts, but Leeds just could not find a way past Forest.
“Jesse, Jesse, time to go,” chanted some fans, and he must deliver an upturn in results soon.
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