Last gasp Forest play-off push would end with failure to beat Leeds
Going into the Easter weekend, Nottingham Forest were the Championship’s draw specialists, sharing the spoils no fewer than 17 times in 43 matches.
Coral make the East Midlands outfit 16/1 shots to crash the top six, and 66/1 outsiders for promotion, because their season was brought to the brink of collapse by a dismal winless run of a dozen league games.
Gary Brazil, in caretaker charge of the City Ground side until Stuart Pearce takes up the reins this summer, finally elicited a response at long, long last against Birmingham City last time out – a first victory in 14 in all competitions.
Forest are 6/4 for a second successive win, but they must earn it against Leeds United, who are already safe, yet have lost just once in the last seven when hosting them at Elland Road.
Brian McDermott, a man facing an uncertain future in this west Yorkshire dugout, is 15/8 to make it three victories on the spin here.
His United site beat their bogey team Barnsley 1-0, while Brazil’s boys, who are on a run of three straight wins against Leeds, were edging Birmingham by the same scoreline last time out.
The visitors (10/1) are ironically deemed more likely than their hosts (11/1) to record a repeat result. A draw is priced at 12/5.
Visitors Forest used to be able to bank on winger Garath McCleary and target man Dexter Blackstock for goals against Leeds, but the former is now at Reading and the latter saw his season ended prematurely during a loan spell at United by a serious knee injury.
In their absence, it is to in-form forward Matt Derbyshire, with two in as many outings, that punters should look to. He netted in the reverse fixture, and odds of 7/4 say he will grab another goal anytime. Derbyshire is also a 6/1 shot to score first, as he did against Birmingham.
Punters will know by now how reliant Leeds are on the Championship’s leading marksman Ross McCormack for goals. His seasonal tally was taken to 28 by hitting the winner against Barnsley, and he also netted a consolation in the reverse fixture.
McCormack has five goals in his last eight, so is odds-on at 10/11 to be on target anytime. There is better value available at 7/2 for the Scot to score last.
Hosts Leeds have conceded as many goals as Forest have put in at the other end (63). That may make the best value come from the win and both teams to score market. McDermott’s men are 18/5 in that, while the visitors come in at 7/2.
There’s no doubting Forest have more incentive to carve out a result. Yet, they will be relying on the likes of Bournemouth, a team they must tackle next; Brighton, who they face on the final day; Ipswich and Reading all slipping up to sneak into a play-off place.
A 2-1 win in Forest’s most common margin of victory historically when facing Leeds, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest this could be how it ends up. Takes odds of 9/1 on Brazil winning with that exact result.