McCleary hits four to end Warnock's honeymoon
Leeds United 3 (Snodgrass pen 6, Becchio 53, Brown 55) Nottingham Forest 7 (Guedioura 8, McCleary 45, 56, 60, 71, Blackstock 52, 81)
Wednesday 21 March 2012
Four goals by Garath McCleary swept Nottingham Forest to an astonishing victory over a Leeds side who seized the early initiative and stood level at 3-3 with 35 minutes remaining.
McCleary's brilliant finishing ensured a dramatic end to Neil Warnock's honeymoon as Leeds manager, the delirious away fans chanting "Warnock out" as Dexter Blackstock strolled through for the seventh goal for a Forest team who will surely now put relegation fears behind them.
Leeds took the lead in the sixth minute. Adlene Guedioura cut down Ross McCormack, allowing Robert Snodgrass to stroke his 13th goal of the season from the spot.
Guedioura put his mistake right within three minutes. Leeds were slow to close him down as he took aim and fired ferociously home from 30 yards.
McCleary, with some clever touches on the right flank,started to torment the Leeds defence. Forest deservedly went ahead in first-half stoppage time. Guedioura, breaking down the left, had the composure to spot McCleary's supporting run on the opposite side. McCleary cut into the penalty area, and, as his marker Paul Robinson belatedly challenged, beat Lonergan with another brutal, angled drive.
Warnock sent on an extra attacker, Danny Webber, after half-time but he had scarcely touched the ball before Forest made it 3-1 after 52 minutes. Following a succession of corners, Andy Reid's cross was headed home by Blackstock. Leeds at last stirred and two goals in 90 seconds hauled them level. First, Luciano Becchio swept home Snodgrass's cross, and then Michael Brown bludgeoned his first goal for the club with a shot from 20 yards.
A minute later, however, a thunderous diagonal volley by McCleary restored Forest's advantage, and to complete an astonishing burst of five goals in eight minutes, he turned in another Reid cross on the hour.
McCleary cut past the substitute to direct another shot beyond Lonergan, and there was still time for Blackstock to end an amazing match by making it seven goals for the visitors.
Leeds Lonergan; Connolly, Lees, O'Dea, Robinson (Pugh 66); Clayton, Brown; White (Webber 46), McCormack, Snodgrass; Becchio (Paynter 80). Subs not used Forssell, Thompson.
Nottingham Forest Camp; Gunter, Chambers, Lynch, Cunningham; McCleary, Guedioura, Moussi (McGugan 86), Reid; Blackstock (Miller 84), Majewski (Wootton 84). Subs not used Smith, Greening.
Referee E Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).
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