ONE goal is rarely enough in the Championship and that is why a large chunk of Leeds United’s pre-season work has been concentrated on finishing.
When you play just one man up front then that striker has to be completely switched on.
Sadly for dominant Leeds, though, Patrick Bamford’s radar was off-kilter while opposite number Lewis Grabban was perfectly positioned to enjoy his one slice of fortune which earned Forest a point.
Spaniard Pablo Hernandez had to show Bamford how it should be done, finishing with aplomb in the 58th-minute after being fed by Mateusz Klitch down the right channel betweeen Joe Worrall and Jack Robinson.
Grabban gave Aston Villa a 1-0 win over Leeds last year with a powerful header. This time the £6m signing knew little about his strike as Rafa Mir’s off-target attempt thudded off his chest and trickled into the net off a post for a 78th-minute equaliser from Forest’s third corner.
Veteran former Hull City defender and Forest captain Michael Dawson admitted: “Leeds will be disappointed (by the result) the way they’ve played.”
In training, Marcelo has been putting more focus on our finishing because I see that with the exercises he is putting on around finishing the goals will come and everything will be fine.Mateusz Klitch.
In many ways, however, it was a case of deja vu for Leeds midfield player Klich, who was the main man in support of Bamford in the 4-1-4-1 system which both Leeds and the visitors employed.
“It felt like last season. We should have scored more goals and won the game but 1-0 is not enough in this division,” said the Poland international.
“We should win the game by two or three goals and that would have been enough. We have dropped two points, it’s not rocket science. We should have won the game, but it feels like we have actually lost.
“We created a lot of chances and we should have scored more goals and that’s why I feel like it’s a bit like last season but the goals will come, we are not going to worry about it. Four points from two games is not a bad start.”
With Bamford having had four clear opportunities to hit the net – he struck the bar with a shot into the ground in front of the Kop – Leeds fans will be hoping that deadline-day signing Eddie Nketiah will provide the impetus for some clinical finishing from the current sole striker.
The 20-year-old season-long loan signing from Arsenal did not make the squad as Bielsa employed the same starting line-up that provided a 3-1 win at Bristol City on the opening day – Bamford, Hernandez and Jack Harrison being the scoring stars.
Klich said: “We haven’t had the chance to train with Eddie Nketiah yet but, 100 per cent, he is good. He is from the Premier League so he has to be good.”
On the pressure of expectation in front of a capacity home audience, he continued: “It was great to be back at Elland Road and we showed everyone that we did everything we could to win the game.
“We have scored four goals in two games, so I don’t need to say too much about our finishing but we should score more goals, it’s as simple as that.
“In training, Marcelo has been putting more focus on our finishing because I see that with the exercises he is putting on around finishing the goals will come and everything will be fine.
“We have to keep working on it in training, because there’s only two games gone and we have dominated them both and played well.
“This league is very difficult to play. We are not going to win every game, it’s not going to happen, but I am positive because we showed last season that we will have a big part to play in the Championship and we have shown already this season we will be similar.
“We are not thinking about being favourites. Obviously, we have to be classed as favourites after finishing third last season. We are all aware of it but we don’t talk about it, we just try and enjoy our football.
“You can see we enjoy the way the manager wants us to play and we all understand better now what we are supposed to do on the pitch so we will continue to follow his lead. Last season was almost successful and I hope this season is going to be better.”
Leeds should have made their dominance pay – creating little from 10 corners forced – but fans left moaning at referee Robert Jones’s refusal to deny them at least one penalty.
Adam Forshaw went down under pressure from Alfa Semedo early on and both Stuart Dallas and substitute Helder Costa had late claims which could have been given on another day.
However, they still failed to pressurise enough Forest goalkeeper Ante Muric, who looked jittery in the early stages, having shouldered the blame for both goals in their opening defeat against West Bromwich Albion.
Still, Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi admitted his side rode their luck, stating: “To play probably the best team in the league wasn’t easy, so I’d like to praise my players.”
Leeds chief Bielsa said: “We lost two points so we are disappointed with the result, but the team is growing and not losing the ball easily.”
Of Jack Robinson’s late challenge on Dallas, he added: “I don’t know if it was a penalty but we had enough ways to solve the game without this.”
Leeds United: Casilla, Dallas, White, Cooper, Douglas; Philips; Hernandez, Forshaw, Klich (Costa 80), Harrison (Alioski 73); Bamford. Unused substitutes: Meslier, Beradi, Bogusz, Shackleton, Clarke.
Nottingham Forest: Muric, Cash, Dawson, Worrall; Watson (Mir 71); Lolley, Silva (Sow 56), Semedo, Adomah (Ameobi 64); Grabban. Unused substitutes: Samba, Ribeiro, Figueiredo, Jenkinson.
Referee: R Jones (Merseyside).
Good day: Lewis Grabban
Former Rotherham United striker is averaging a goal every two games for Forest since a £6m move from Aston Villa but knew little about his latest strike.
Bad day: Patrick Bamford
Two-goal hero in the opening-day win at Bristol City, the Leeds striker got in some great positions with clever runs off the ball but squandered several opportunities at Elland Road.
78th minute: Leeds had opportunities to clear Forest’s third corner but did not and were made to pay.
Robert Jones: Infuriated Leeds fans by failure to award a penalty.
Two points dropped but Leeds still look strong and a better bet to challenge than Forest.
Salford City v Leeds United, Carabao Cup, tomorrow, 7.45pm.