Intelligent Substitutions Save the Day at Leeds

Leeds United Emblem and Nottingham Forest Emblem

Sabri Lamouchi unleashed a trio of substitutes at Elland Road as Forest came back from the dead to earn a draw against Leeds United last Saturday.

It’s fair to say that Nottingham forest rode their luck on several occasions but emerged with what could be an invaluable point come season’s end. The decision to change formation and go with two up front for the final twenty minutes or so was exactly the right move.

When Forest’s opening two fixtures were announced they couldn’t have been more challenging, both West Brom and Leeds are hotly tipped to replicate their play-off positions of last season. And, in my opinion, I actually favour a tougher start than one that provides a false sense of security.

To say the Reds found it tough against Leeds last Saturday is an understatement, Patrick Bamford could, and should have bagged a hat-trick which would have sealed the fate of his former club. However, at this level of the game you are very often made to pay for missed opportunities.

I watched in horror at times as Marcelo Bielsa’s side pressed their opponents all over the park like men possessed, yielding staggering possession statistics in the process. By half time those stats were 70/30 in favour of there home side.

I wondered how Forest were managing to keep the deficit to a solitary goal, which was beautifully despatched by the  former Valencia man Pablo Hernandez. But rather than wait until the dying moments of the contest, Sabri Lamouchi decided that enough was enough with half an hour to go.

Samba Sow certainly made his presence felt on his Forest debut whilst Sammy Ameobi produced some absolute wizardry to alleviate the pressure on his teammates. It’s ironic because the former Newcastle United man came in for some hefty criticism after coming on against West Brom seven days earlier. Solid proof that knee-jerk trolling and “Twittercisim,” as I call it, is an unhealthy and foolish path to tread after just 90 minutes of Championship football.

Whilst I’m on the subject of social media, the abuse and vitriol between the supporters of Nottingham Forest and Leeds United was incomprehensible at times, there is absolutely no need for such behaviour.

Thankfully, to add balance to this rapidly darkening universe, there are also beautifully insightful and intelligent accounts to be viewed, like @ForestBoffin, which provides extensive, in-depth analysis of all things Red. At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the title of this account implies arrogance, but it certainly does not. The creator of the account conducts themselves impeccably which goes a long way to restoring my faith in humanity.

Back to the field of play, when Rafael Mir replaced Ben Watson after seventy-two minutes it was a strong statement of intent by Lamouchi. Sacrificing the holding midfielder for a lively, young forward was a good bit of coaching by the Forest gaffer. Watson had done ok in my eyes but had little or nothing in the form of outlets in front of him. Mir’s introduction gave the Leeds back line something different to think and allowed Lewis Grabban some much needed respite.

I’m honest enough to acknowledge that Leeds should have been three goals to the good before Grabban’s equaliser, and that the man himself fouled Cooper prior to his goal. I also think that the ref should have sent off Kalvin Philips and awarded Leeds a penalty for Robinson’s late foul in the box. However, the referee and his assistants failed to spot all these misdemeanours, so it matters not at the end of the day.

Sabri Lamouchi will be aware that his side were very lucky at times on Saturday, but he must take credit for some excellent substitutions; ones that earned an excellent point when all’s said and done.

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