I felt Elland Road’s collective heart sink when Forest went ahead against Leeds United inside the opening quarter of the match last night.

This was a match we needed to win, or at the very least could not afford to lose, if we wanted to stay in the race for survival.

Leeds United were languishing in 18th place, the final relegation spot, heading into this fixture. Defeat would leave us deeper in the relegation mire with all to do and one less game as we eat into the final quarter of the campaign. The importance of getting a result against Forest was therefore not lost on the restless home crowd.

Then we got off to the worst possible start.

Did we have the character and temperamental to fight back once Orel Mangala had given the visitors the lead?

By half-time that question had been answered, thanks to goals from Jack Harrison and Luis Sinisterra.

It was then heart-in-mouth stuff from the start of the second half to the last blow of the referee’s whistle after six minutes of additional time, which seemed like an eternity.

The palpable relief. The thunderous applause.

Rivals falter on perfect night

Tuesday night’ result was one of those deeply satisfying outcomes. Javi Gracia’s charges embraced the challenge and the Leeds United  football gods conspired to dent our relegation rivals’ survival chances.

Leicester City began life without Brendan Rodgers with a 2-1 home defeat by Aston Villa while Bournemouth suffered a damaging 2-0 defeat at the hands of Brighton. The defeats left both the Foxes and the Cherries in the bottom three with Southampton.

A bird in hand

Leeds United have a six-point lead over Southampton, four and two points advantage over Leicester and Bournemouth respectively. It may not look like much, but it’s not insignificant. It’s a handy cushion, Leeds United’s proverbial bird in hand that’s worth rival’s two in the bush.

At this stage of the season, with the finish line in sight, I would rather be looking in the rear-view mirror fighting to fend off pursuers in my slipstream than be the pursuer trying to close the gap, let alone overtake.

That’s said, there is only seven points separating Southampton at the bottom and Crystal Palace in 12th. At this stage chances of survival for all clubs in the bottom nine are still more realistic than mathematical.

It takes just one win or defeat to alter the mood at a relegation threatened club. So, with nine games still to play no one associated with Leeds United will be getting carried away.

What next for Leeds United?

We welcome Crystal Palace to Elland Road on Super Sunday in a top of the nine-team relegation division clash.

Wilfried Gnonto back on the bench for the Forest tie after missing the defeat at Arsenal with an ankle injury was a sight for sore eyes. I did wonder though whether he had recovered sufficiently to play or was being rushed back because of the importance of the match. The Italian international was an unused substitute.

By the time Roy Hodgson’s Eagles land at Elland Road on over the weekend Gnonto will have had more time to recover, handing Gracia another option in attack.

There is no doubt Gracia will be targeting the Palace fixture as winnable, at worst a “must not lose” match.

It’s time to kick on and put some daylight between ourselves and the teams below us.

Leeds United, how do I love thee!

9 April – Leeds United v Crystal Palace 15:00 SkySports
17 April – Leeds United v Liverpool 21:00
22 April – Fulham v Leeds United
25 April – Leeds United v Leicester City
29 April – Bournemouth v Leeds United 15:00

6 May – Manchester City v Leeds United 15:00
13 May – Leeds United v Newcastle 15:00
20 May – West Ham v Leeds United 15:00
28 May – Leeds United v Tottenham 17:00


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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