LEEDS United bounced back emphatically from their home derby defeat to Barnsley with their most convincing away win of the season at Nottingham Forest.
A 4-0 win on an emotional night at the City Ground gave everyone at the club a lift after Saturday’s defeat and the death of Leeds great Gary Speed.
The Welsh midfielder was remembered with a minute’s applause and an 11-minute chant that honoured the number 11 he used to wear with distinction for United.
The current Whites players then did their bit with a dominating display. It was their fifth win in their last six away games and was never in doubt once Robert Snodgrass fired them ahead on 20 minutes with a fine strike from just outside the area.
At that stage Leeds, who changed formation with Aidan White on the left flank and Luciano Becchio in a lone front man role, had already gone close four times through Snodgrass, Jonny Howson and the recalled Michael Brown.
Only desperate defence kept Forest in the game, but Howson did double United’s lead just before half-time with a half-volley that flew past home keeper Lee Camp. It was the skipper’s overdue first goal of the season and made up for a miss earlier when he had been set up by Snodgrass.
Any comeback hopes Forest had in the second half were extinguished within four minutes as Becchio headed home Brown’s cross.
The hosts finally fashioned a chance as Ishmael Miller’s header was comfortably saved by Alex McCarthy, but Leeds made it 4-0 on 66 minutes when Howson’s shot was parried by Camp and Adam Clayton was on hand to put away the rebound.
Forest’s miserable night was complete when midfielder Andy Reid was sent off for a second bookable offence with 11 minutes to go.
Leeds boss Simon Grayson was understandably pleased with the performance of his players and dedicated the win to his long-time friend Gary Speed.
He said: It’s been a difficult couple of days for myself and Gary’s family, supporters of Leeds United and supporters in general.
“Gary Speed was a fantastic person and I wanted my players to go out and produce a performance for him tonight.
“That was right out of the top locker of our performances tonight. It was very poignant that the first goal came right as the 11 minutes of singing ended and was a left-footed shot. Gary Speed scored many goals like that. It’s been difficult, but I’m a very proud manager tonight. I’m delighted to have got a result for Gary Speed.
“It has been a very difficult time. I had to put my professional head on, but during the minute’s applause it was difficult to keep concentration. But I had to do it, because I knew he would want us to put on a performance and the manner or how we played was a reflection of what Gary would have been delighted with.”
Nottingham Forest 0
Leeds United 4
(Snodgrass 20, Howson 45, Becchio 49, Clayton 66)
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Forest: Camp, Morgan, Chambers, Lynch, Reid (sent off 79), Cunningham (Gunter 65), Anderson, McGugan (McGoldrick 65), Moussi, Tudgay, Findlay.
Leeds: McCarthy, Connolly, Kisnorbo, Lees, Pugh, Snodgrass (Nunez 80), Brown, Clayton (Keogh 75), Howson, White, Becchio (McCormack 75).
Referee: Darren Deadman.