Lewis Grabban opened his account for the 2019-20 season as Nottingham Forest gained a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Leeds United at Elland Road.
Pablo Hernandez had earlier opening the scoring for the hosts but Forest stayed focused, kept going and their persistance paid off with 13 minutes to play as Grabban smuggled the ball home from close range following a scramble in the Leeds penalty area.
Sabri Lamouchi named an unchanged starting line-up for his side’s visit to Elland Road but included new signings Carl Jenkinson and Samba Sow amongst his substitutes.
It was a cagey opening ten minutes in West Yorkshire with neither side really dominating possession. The home team did fashion an opening early on but midfielder Kalvin Phillips’s effort whistled by Aro Muric’s right-hand post from the edge of the box.
As the half worn on, Marcelo Bielsa’s men began to control the play and very nearly went in front on 20 minutes when skipper Liam Cooper headed just wide from a corner but Forest were able to breathe again.
Despite Leeds’ dominance, The Reds were comfortable without the ball and summer signing Alfa Semedo was performing superbly and covering a lot of ground as the hosts were largely restricted to long-range efforts.
By the time the half-time whistle came Forest were enjoying their best spell of the match so far. Jack Robinson, who scored for The Reds last time in the corresponding fixture last season, found himself unmarked from a Joe Lolley corner but the defender was unable to get anything on the delivery.
Lamouchi’s men continued to look dangerous on the break as the second half got underway and Albert Adomah tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area but was unable to keep his shot down and it whistled over the bar.
Minutes later the home side fashioned their best chance of the contest only to be denied by the crossbar. Jack Harrison cut inside from the left and fizzed in a low cross which fell to former Forest man Patrick Bamford and his acrobatic effort bounced up off the turf and onto the bar.
The Forest academy graduate went close again a minute later when he attempted to chip the ball past the on-rushing Muric but the ball drifted wide and the scores remained level, although The Reds’ goal was beginning to lead a charmed life.
In the end, it was to be Hernandez who would break the deadlock just before the hour mark. The Spaniard raced onto a through ball and neatly slotted the ball past Muric into the corner of the net to give Leeds the edge.
After already introducing midfielder Samba Sow for Tiago Silva, Lamouchi made his second change of the match with Sammy Ameobi replacing Adomah and the forward certainly impressed following his introduction.
Despite going behind, Forest continued to push forward in search of the equaliser and Ben Watson unleshed a powerful effort from the edge of the box but it failed to trouble Kiko Casilla in the hosts’ goal as The Reds’ frustration started to build.
That frustration didn’t last long though as they made their pressure count on 77 minutes. Leeds failed to clear a corner from the left and after the ball had bounced around the penalty area, it eventually found its way to Grabban who reacted first to scuff home his first goal of the campaign.
Despite a frantic final ten minutes, neither side were able to create any further match-winning chances as the points were shared at Elland Road.
Leeds United 1 – 1 Nottingham Forest
Forest: Muric; Cash, Worrall, Dawson (c), Robinson; Semedo, Watson (Mir 72′); Adomah (Ameobi 64′), Silva (Sow 57′), Lolley; Grabban
Subs not used: Samba, Ribeiro, Figueiredo, Jenkinson
Goal: Grabban 77′
Bookings: Sow 71′, Robinson 90′
Leeds: Casilla; Dallas, White, Cooper, Douglas; Phillips, Hernandez, Forshaw, Klich (Costa 80′), Harrison (Alioski 72′); Bamford
Subs not used: Meslier, Berardi, Bogusz, Shackleton, Clarke
Goal: Hernandez 59′
Bookings: Phillips 28′, Forshaw 80′
Referee: Robert Jones
Attendance: 35,453 (2,002 away)