- Leeds now five games unbeaten
- Forest dropped first home points since October
- Same scoreline as last season’s corresponding fixture
- Nelson Oliveira opener cancelled out by Sam Byram strike
SAM Byram’s late equaliser gave Leeds United a share of the spoils against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
Forest’s top scorer Nelson Oliveira took full advantage of a defensive misjudgement to put the hosts ahead on 17 minutes.
Leeds bossed possession throughout and were rewarded when Byram – who could leave the club in the January transfer window – found the net with a low strike 10 minutes from time.
Forest carved out the better openings as substitute Oliver Burke struck a post late on but were denied a fifth straight home win.
A point took Dougie Freedman’s side up to 13th in the SkyBet Championship at the halfway stage of the campaign.
They are now a point and a place behind Leeds, who moved into the top half of the table after extending their unbeaten record to five matches.
The Yorkshire visitors – chasing a third successive league win for the first time since February – had a fast start as Stuart Dallas fired wide inside 90 seconds after good work from Lewis Cook.
Forest – who replaced injured Spanish left-back Daniel Pinillos with Michael Mancienne – eventually settled amid the driving east Midlands rain but Leeds were the more accomplished in every aspect.
Byram was correctly booked for diving by referee James Linington after going over in the box on the quarter hour mark and – shortly after – his side fell behind.
A simple long ball forward by Matt Mills caught out Giuseppe Bellusci and, as keeper Marco Silvestri raced out of the area, Oliveira capitalised to slot home his sixth goal of the season.
It was the only shot on target in a first half which saw Leeds enjoy 74 per cent of the ball but fail to provide the end product that their approach work merited despite the best efforts of full-back Charlie Taylor as an outlet down the left flank.
In front of the biggest attendance at a sold-out City Ground for 15 months, Forest defended resolutely and broke at every opportunity – with midfielder David Vaughan catching the eye with an all-action display.
A clash of heads on the stroke of half-time between Leeds defenders Liam Cooper and Scott Wootton, who required four stitches to a head wound during the interval, prompted an extended half-time break.
Forest came out quicker with Oliveira rifling a free-kick over from 20 yards after Cooper tugged his shirt before Chris Wood lashed off target following an indecisive moment for Forest keeper Dorus de Vries.
The hosts almost snatched a second when a downward Mills header was nodded off the line by Luke Murphy from skipper Henri Lansbury’s corner.
Both sides made changes on the hour mark as the booked Ryan Mendes – who had a torrid time dealing with Taylor’s forward bursts – gave way for Jamie Ward and Leeds’ Souleymane Doukara swapped places with Cook.
The introduction of Robert Tesche – in place of the ineffective Chris O’Grady soon after – saw Forest switch to a five-man midfield and a seemingly more conservative approach.
Although Ward’s dipping effort was tipped over Silvestri and Oliveira had a penalty appeal turned down, Freedman’s decision backfired as his side’s lack of ruthlessness in the final third proved costly on 80 minutes.
Byram – who scored twice in Leeds’ 3-2 win at Wolves in their last away game – linked up with Doukara before firing a crisp right-footed effort into the bottom corner from 22 yards.
A thrilling finale could have brought about a winner for either team as Wood screwed tamely into De Vries’ gloves from a cross by substitute Mirco Antenucci, who also sliced a Wootton cutback wide of the post.
At the other end, Forest sub Burke, on his first appearance since August, hit the post in the 90th minute with a bouncing shot after Bellusci blocked Ward’s effort.
It means Forest are now unbeaten in six encounters against Leeds, whose excellent form under head coach Steve Evans continues but it will face another stern examination when current leaders Derby County visit Elland Road on Tuesday night.
Substitutes: Ward (on for Mendes 62′), Tesche (on for O’Grady 68′) and O Burke (on for Vaughan 83′)
Not used: Evtimov (GK), Trotter, C Burke, Blackstock.
Booked: Mendes (57′), Lansbury (71′), Osborn (81′)
Goals: Oliveira (17′)
Substitutes: Doukara (on for Cook 62′), Antenucci (on for Dallas 77′) and Coyle (on for Byram 90+3′)
Not used: Peacock-Farrell (GK), Bamba, Sloth, Adeyemi.
Booked: Byram (15′), Bellusci (71′)
Goals: Byram (80′)
Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight) – 8/10