Billy Sharp on Leeds’s equalising penalty

BILLY SHARP claimed his first goal since August to earn Leeds United a point at Nottingham Forest and claimed he and his team-mates should take confidence from a rare and battling point away from home.

Billy Sharp is Congratulated after scoring the equalising penalty. Picture by Simon Hulme

Sharp’s 54th-minute penalty – his first effort for Leeds since scoring on his debut against Middlesbrough four months ago – secured a 1-1 draw in Nottingham on Saturday, putting more ground between Leeds and the Championship’s bottom three.

United fought back from a Matty Fryatt strike in first-half injury-time to avert an 11th league defeat of the season, surviving two further finishes from Fryatt which were controversially disallowed for offside.

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Leeds’ woeful away form – showing six points from 11 games – led to a rethink by head coach Neil Redfearn, who recalled Sharp in place of Souleymane Doukara at the City Ground and initially used a 4-3-3 formation in place of his usual midfield diamond.

Sharp said: “I was playing a bit wider than I usually do and Forest were forcing me to go back. I had to do a job for the team and it was tough but if we’d got in at 0-0 at half-time then the game plan would have worked.

“Once we got back into the game in the second half we grew in confidence, got further up the pitch and looked more dangerous.

“Not having won away from home since Bournemouth (in September) is a long time so it was important to get something out of the game.

“Our away performances aren’t good enough at the minute but everyone would have taken a point before the game. Hopefully the fans are happy with the character we showed in getting a point at the end.” Sharp – a former Nottingham Forest player – insisted on taking United’s penalty ahead of top scorer Mirco Antenucci after Daniel Fox tripped Sam Byram inside Forest’s box.

The striker beat goalkeeper Karl Darlow with a firm finish high into the net.

“I was selfish with it,” Sharp said, “but I’m a striker and I want to score goals. Mirco wanted the penalty as well which was good. It’s good to have people who want to take it. I’ve played with Darlow and I’ve taken a few penalties against him. I was a little bit nervous so I thought I’d put my foot through it and hope he dived out of the way. That’s what happened. I was just happy to see it go in the net.”

Forest boss Stuart Pearce bemoaned his side’s misfortune afterwards following Fryatt’s two disallowed efforts.

The forward saw one close-range finish ruled out midway through the second half and had another disallowed shortly after Sharp’s equaliser. Forest broke from convention by replaying the second incident in slow motion on their big screen, leading the crowd at the City Ground to vent their frustration at the match officials.

Sharp said: “The linesman got the first one right. I think that one was offside. Obviously we’ve seen on the big screens that he got the second one wrong. But it evens itself out through the season.

“There was a penalty in our game at Blackburn which wasn’t a penalty so I am glad one went in our favour.”