Football: Clough penalty ensures parity for Forest fighters: Leeds still searching for away win as route-one game arrives at the City Ground

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Nottingham Forest. . .1

Leeds United. . . . . 1

FOREST could not mark Brian Clough's 58th birthday with the three points that would have lifted them out of the relegation zone yesterday, but a penalty equaliser by the manager's son, Nigel, at least enabled them to vacate bottom place in the Premier League.

While a draw was less than Forest deserved, their performance can only have encouraged Clough Snr and the City Ground faithful. They quickly cancelled out Rod Wallace's 13th-minute goal - Leeds's first away from home since Boxing Day - and went on to create enough chances to have repeated their 4-1 victory at Elland Road in December.

Forest compromised their purist principles to an unprecedented extent, aiming high balls to the head of their new 6ft 4in forward, Robert Rosario. Nigel Clough, playing centre-half, launched several up-and-unders which threw the waning champions in to frequent turmoil.

Yet a familiar scenario had loomed for Forest when Gary Bannister's 10th-minute drive came back off the woodwork and Leeds promptly scored with virtually their only effort on goal. Gary Speed and David Batty worked the ball to Wallace on the 'D' and, as Forest backed off, the little striker doubled his League tally with a low shot.

Leeds scented an end to an 11-month wait for a win on their travels, but their lead lasted 12 minutes. A characteristic surge out of defence and cross-field pass by Roy Keane led to Forest's goal. The ball was helped on by Bannister to Ian Woan, who was adjudged to have been upended by John Lukic. Clough beat the irate goalkeeper from the spot.

The award may have been questionable, yet it inspired Forest to fight in a way some of their supporters have been urging them to do all season. They actually had two men booked - against five for Leeds - although it was not an unsavoury contest.

Before half-time, Lukic parried a Rosario header to safety; Woan shot wide when in the clear; and Keane drifted a free-kick narrowly off target.

After the break, Keane's 58th-minute header was cleared off the line to Carl Tiler, whose goalbound attempt was acrobatically tipped over. Lukic also saved at point-blank range from Woan after another aerial challenge by Rosario, who missed the chance of the match when he side-footed Bannister's cross over from four yards.

Nottingham Forest: Crossley; Charles, Chettle, Stone, Tiler, Keane, Black, Bannister, Clough, Rosario, Woan. Substitutes not used: Laws, Orlygsson, Marriott (gk).

Leeds United: Lukic; Kerslake, Dorigo, Batty, Wetherall, Newsome, Rocastle, Rod Wallace (Forrester, 83), Chapman, Hodge, Speed. Substitutes not used: Tinkler, Day (gk).

Referee: R Lewis (Great Bookham).