Big decision goes Leeds United’s way as Roofe earns draw with Forest

Nottingham Forest appeal for handball as Kemar Roofe celebrates Leeds United's equaliser. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Nottingham Forest appeal for handball as Kemar Roofe celebrates Leeds United's equaliser. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

A controversial Kemar Roofe goal earned Leeds United a come from behind point on what was looking like being a frustrating evening against Nottingham Forest at Elland Road.

In front of another big crowd the Whites dominated much of the play, but struggled to create many clear chances and trailed to an 11th minute goal from a corner until Roofe’s equaliser nine minutes from time made the final score 1-1.

It had more than a hint of handball about it as the Leeds striker bundled the ball over the line after Samuel Saiz’s far post cross had been turn across goal by Mateusz Klich.

Forest keeper Pantilimon was incensed that the goal was allowed to stand, but could not get the referee and assistant to change their decision and a draw was the outcome.

Anything more would have been a huge injustice as Forest came to frustrate with a well organised team that took very few risks and only managed one shot on target and one off all evening.

United did struggle to break them down and although playing the game mostly in the visitors’ half the final ball was too often a let down.

The closest they came to a goal in the opening half came when Pablo Hernandez’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected and turned wide by Forest keeper Pantilimon.

They were already behind by then when the visitors went ahead from a corner as Jack Robinson met Joe Lolley’s flag kick with a downward header.

Roofe shot wide as the Whites looked to respond, but they were forced into a change with yet another injury to contend as Luke Ayling went off with what looked a knee injury. While they were reshuffling with Tom Pearce on at left-back and Stuart Dallas switched from left to right-back Forest fashioned their one other chance of the night, Matthew Cash lashing a shot wide.

The rest of the half was all Leeds in terms of possession, but they only had half-chances with Ezgjan Alioski stumbling as he tried to get on the end of an Hernandez cross-shot, Roofe shooting wide on the run and Adam Forshaw - who was preferred to Saiz in the starting line-up - going close with a strike from 20 yards out.

The second half followed the same pattern with the visitors content to soak up all the pressure. Alioski sent a shot over before teenager Jack Clarke almost made an instant impact after coming on as substitute, shooting just wide with his first touch from the edge of the box.

The equaliser finally came through Roofe’s controversial effort and Leeds went for broke in the closing stages.

They did not test Pantilimon, however, with Roofe’s weak header presenting the keeper with an easy save and Hernandez sending a clever flick just wide from Alioksi’s low cross into the box.

The result saw the Whites lose top spot to Sheffield United, but they remain in second place in the Sky Bet Championship.

After the game Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa said: “I think it was an unfair result because all the elements you take on the justice of the game the only thing that matters are the numbers. All the other arguments about the game, we solved them in our favour or us.

“We had the ball a lot, we attacked the whole game. We didn’t concede any chance to the opponent and we missed 10 goals.

“Apart from the goal and one more action the opponent did not create anything against us. We had five chances to score in each half. I think we attacked well and I have no criticism of my team.

“A draw was not the reward the team deserved. I don’t celebrate the draw because when you play at home in front of 35,000 fans a draw is not enough. But our performance was good.

“I have an admiration for the opponent. They tried to play and they have good players, it brings merit to our performance because our opponent is one of the best in the league.”

On Roofe’s equaliser, he added: “From where I was I didn’t see a handball. I imagine that the referee didn’t see it either so it was a legitimate goal.

“I can’t judge the action because I haven’t seen it. To say a player cheated we need to be more certain about it.”

Forest manager Aitor Karanka said: “It was clear what happened on the Leeds goal and it does not matter what I think. But to say we were robbed was a very strong word.

“Leeds played very well and have an amazing manager. But we were well organised and we controlled the game without the ball. They didn’t create many chances.

“The table shows how good they are and the intensity with which they play the game.”

Match facts

Leeds United 1

(Roofe 81)

Nottingham Forest 1

(Robinson 11)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 34,308

Leeds: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling (Pearce 25, Clarke 64), Jansson, Cooper, Dallas, Phillips (Saiz 64), Forshaw, Hernandez, Klich, Alioski, Roofe.

Forest: Pantilimon, Darikwa, Figueiredo, Fox (Dawson 50), Robinson, Guedioura, Colback, Cash (Dias 87), Carvalho, Lolley (Osborn 69), Grabban.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham.