LEEDS United manager Neil Warnock had no complaints over the result after seeing his side miss a chance to climb into the play-off positions with a 4-2 defeat away to Nottingham Forest.
The Whites went into the game with five wins from six matches in the Npower Championship and after taking an early lead through Paul Green looked comfortable as they looked to maintain an impressive recent record at the City Ground.
But the game changed after Forest were awarded a penalty late in the first half and three goals in seven second half minutes left United to come back up the M1 empty handed.
Warnock was unhappy with his side’s defending during the hosts’ red hot second spell, but felt it had been the penalty that had been the key moment when Forest striker Billy Sharp turned past Tom Lees and fell to the ground to make the most of the defender’s challenge after he had got too tight to the man he was marking.
He said: “I just hope Tom learns from the incident. It is a harsh lesson for him, but one he’s got to make sure doesn’t happen again.
“Tom has just breathed on him but Billy has made sure there is contact and gone down. In that situation you have got to stand a yard off him.
“It’s a penalty because 20 out of 20 referees would give it. Billy used to get penalties for me like that at Sheffield United so I can’t complain. Tom has just got to be more professional.
“It was really disappointing because at that stage it was the only way I could see Forest scoring.
“The equaliser gave Forest the lift they needed and we were guilty of being very amateurish and naive in the second half.
“I’ve known Billy a long time and if you are up against him in the area he’s going to be clever.
“If you concede three goals in seven minutes at any level you can’t expect to win football matches, but at the end of the game I’m still disappointed that we have passed by another chance to win a game.”
It all started so promisingly for Leeds as they pressed Forest back in the early stages and took the lead in the 12th minute when Green was left with an easy finish after he had won a back post header from Jerome Thomas’s cross and El Hadji Diouf had poked the ball beyond goalkeeper Lee Camp.
The hosts created very little, but after having a big shout for a penalty turned down when Alan Tate pulled back Sharp they were given a lifeline a minute before half-time with Sharp this time winning a spot kick then putting it away.
Paddy Kenny was forced to make his first save of note shortly after when tipping away Andy Reid’s free-kick and a disappointing first half ended 1-1
The second half started in livelier fashion with Dexter Blackstock - linked with a move to Leeds - heading a chance over.
On 54 minutes Sharp made it 2-1 when he easily outpaced Tate to get on the end of a Blackstock flick on and coolly rounded Kenny to notch his second of the afternoon.
Within three minutes it was 3-1 as United failed to deal with a corner and Ward’s low cross was turned into his own net by Rodolph Austin, who had a disappointing return to first team action after nine games out with injury.
Leeds did nothing to stem the tide and their day was to get worse when a third goal in seven minutes made it 4-1, Blackstock powerfully heading home Andy Reid’s cross.
With the points won Forest eased up, although Kenny was required to save well from an Alan Hutton blockbuster from distance.
Leeds threw on three substitutes and two of them combined for a consolation goal late on when Ross McCormack’s low cross was turned in by Davide Somma.
They did have another chance in injury-time when Somma fired a good chance wide, but they could have no complaints over their defeat in a game when too many players had an off day.
Nottingham Forest 4
(Sharp 44, pen, 54, Austin og 57, Blackstock 61)
Leeds United 2
(Green 12, Somma 90)
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Forest: Camp, Hutton, Ward, Collins, Halford, Cohen, Guediora, Majewski (Moussi 71), Reid (Lansbury 82), Blackstock, Sharp (Cox 77).
Leeds: Kenny, Byram (McCormack 79), Lees, Tate, Drury, Green, Austin (Pearce 65), Brown, Thomas, Diouf (Somma 65), Becchio.
Referee: Lee Probert.