Nottingham Forest 1 Leeds United 1: Grayson's tactical switch helps United make their Forest point

'JOB done,' was how Billy Davies, as the manager of Preston, famously chose to sum up his feelings halfway through a play-off semi-final clash against Leeds.

The Scot had just seen North End claim a 1-1 first leg draw at Elland Road and considered his side to be favourites to reach the final.

Three days later, however, Davies's words came back to haunt him as Leeds triumphed 2-0 and their players left the Deepdale dressing room walls daubed in graffiti that read 'job done'.

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After 20 or so minutes yesterday, Davies must have been tempted to feel a similar sense of satisfaction after watching his Nottingham Forest side assume such control that a rout of newly-promoted Leeds seemed a distinct possibility.

United, employing the same 4-3-2-1 formation and personnel that Derby County had found to their liking on the opening day, simply weren't in the same class as their hosts.

Run ragged in midfield and with Luciano Becchio receiving little support as a lone frontman, Leeds offered nothing to suggest a fightback was on the cards.

But, after having seen his side opened up almost at will once too often, United manager Simon Grayson took decisive action as Sanchez Watt was pushed forward in a 4-4-2 formation.

The transformation was instant.

Freed from the duties that had come with being the holding player in a three-man midfield, Neil Kilkenny began to exert more and more influence.

Bradley Johnson also became a major threat along with Lloyd Sam and the pair combined beautifully for United's 36th minute equaliser.

Not, however, that the joy of the 4,240 travelling army of fans was shared by the Forest manager.

Davies said: "After 35 minutes, the game should have been over and done with. If it had been a boxing match, it would have been stopped.

"Then, Leeds had one chance that came from our bad play. To go in at half-time level was unbelievable."

As impressive as Leeds were in the final hour or so, there must also be concern at just how insipid their display had been in the early stages.

But for a combination of Kasper Schmeichel's reflexes and poor finishing, the game could, as Davies suggested afterwards, have been over.

Forest took less than two minutes to expose United's vulnerability down their left, Gunter finding sufficient space to curl a cross that Paul Anderson bundled goalwards only for Schmeichel to block with his knees.

Three minutes later, Gunter burst into the penalty area and was shaping to shoot when Federico Bessone slid in to make a crucial tackle.

At this stage, it seemed a question of when and not if Leeds would concede and the answer came on nine minutes.

Sloppy play by United allowed Chris Gunter to collect a return pass from Rob Earnshaw after taking a quick throw-in.

The full-back then drilled a first-time cross that Dexter Blackstock flicked past Schmeichel from close range.

Buoyed by going ahead, Forest poured forward with even more vigour as a neat one-two with Blackstock allowed Earnshaw to race clear.

Schmeichel, clearly adopting a tactic that served his dad Peter so well in his career, duly raced from his line to spread himself in front of an on-rushing striker.

Whether it was the sight of the Dane racing towards him or not, Earnshaw slightly mis-cued his shot and the ball bounced to safety off the post.

Grayson, to his credit, acted swiftly and the change of formation quickly paid dividends.

Almost straight away, Becchio was presented with an excellent chance by neat inter-play between Kilkenny and Sam only for his first touch to be heavy and Lee Camp blocked.

The Forest goalkeeper was less impressive in trying to deal with a Paul Connolly cross moments later, his punch only going as far as the edge of the penalty area where Becchio hooked the ball wide.

United equalised nine minutes before the break, a sloppy pass from Morgan being the catalyst.

The powerfully built central defender had clearly not heeded the lesson of midweek when casual play by the Forest defence had allowed Bradford City a route back into a Carling Cup tie that the League Two side would eventually win.

Instead, Morgan, in attempting a risky pass to left-back Ryan Bertrand, could only kick the ball against Becchio's heel.

Jonny Howson collected possession and fed Bradley Johnson, whose inviting cross from the left wing was headed past Camp by Sam to claim a first point of the season for Leeds.

Not quite job done for Leeds, but a satisfying result nonetheless.

MATCH FOCUS

Hero: Lloyd Sam

Capped a fine display with United's equaliser with a late run into the Forest penalty area that went undetected until it was too late.

Villain: Wes Morgan

Gifted possession to Leeds with a loose attempted pass that led directly to the visitors' equaliser.

Key moment

36th minute: Morgan collected the ball midway inside his own half, only to hit an attempted pass that was intercepted and eventually fed to Bradley Johnson who crossed for Sam to score.

Ref watch

Tony Bates: Seemed to have little idea as to what had sparked the second-half melee.

Verdict

Not so much a game of two halves as a first half of two halves with Forest's early dominance giving way to Leeds. United's efforts in the final 65-70 minutes offered encouragement for the coming weeks and months.

Quote of the day

Job done, but you messed it up.

– Leeds fans show they have long memories when it comes to Billy Davies.

Player focus

FOREST

Camp 6

Gunter 7

Morgan 5

Wilson 6

Bertrand 6

Anderson* 6

Majewski** 6

McKenna 7

Cohen 6

Earnshaw 7

Blackstock*** 6

Substitutes

McCleary* (63) 6

Tyson** (68) 6

Moussi*** (83)

Chambers

Adebola

Thornhill

Darlow

LEEDS

Schmeichel 7

Connolly 6

Bessone 6

Naylor 6

Collins 6

Kilkenny 7

Howson 6

Johnson 7

Sam* 8

Watt 7

Becchio 7

Substitutes

Grella* (89)

Bruce

Higgs

Clayton

Hughes

Bromby

White

Next game

Leeds United v Millwall; Saturday August 21, 2010; Championship.