No one likes a cliché so I’ll get it out of the way early: it was a game of two halves.

After the stumble against Sheffield United and the distraction of the international break, the Whites got their promotion push back on track with a vital 4-1 win over play-off rivals Nottingham Forest.

The game started in the way that’s been typical of Leeds this season. We were panicking all over the pitch, giving up possession easily and inviting Forest to attack us. Whenever we did have the ball we lacked any sort of invention or vision and resorted to long balls up to Becchio who was being outmuscled by both central defenders. We we’re lucky to hold on and last ditch defending saved us on a number of occasions.

The biggest talking point of the half and probably the game came about ten minutes before half time as Forest midfielder Chris Cohen went flying into George McCartney in an effort to get the ball. A mass brawl broke out as players from both sides flew into the melee. There’s been some debate about the dismissal as Cohen seemed to get a foot on the ball but it’s clear to see why he walked. Billy Davies can moan all he wants about Leeds players and staff getting Chris Cohen sent off but it was the Forest player who went flying into the challenge with both feet off the ground. It was one of those that was correct but Forest would say it was harsh.

It was the perfect time to push ahead as we’d seen glimpses of Barry Bannan’s footwork and passing and with a man advantage we should have been spraying the ball about and making them chase it but no, in typical Leeds fashion it was going long up to Becchio and we were desperate to get inside for the break and regroup.

As the score-line suggests, the second half was completely different. Within five minutes we were one up through Jonny Howson who was anonymous in the first half but got better and better as the game went on. Snodgrass and Lichaj combined down the right to play in Howson who coolly took a touch to set himself before smashing past Forest ‘keeper, Lee Camp from six yards.

The goal seemed to give us confidence and it felt like we had another goal in us. Luciano Becchio, who was fighting hard but not getting much joy, was in the right place at the right time to nick a goal after Bromby’s header rebounded off the post. Minutes later we could have made it comfortable as Snodgrass cut inside on his left foot on the edge of the area and hit a fantastic curling effort against the bar.

Leeds looked to be playing with more confidence until Forest got one back. Forest man Garath McCleary scored a good curling effort but what drew most of the attention was Nathan Tyson grabbing hold of Leigh Bromby who began pushing and grabbing back as they ran a good twenty yards into the area and we’re practically squared up by the time McCleary hit his shot. Nerves were shaken inside Elland Road and the game could have potentially tipped either way as the game became a very scrappy affair with numerous physical battles and scuffles all over the pitch.

Luckily we managed to tip the balance our way when Max Gradel took one touch to set himself up before firing a brilliant volley into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. The man advantage was beginning to pay as Forest started to look tired. Simon Grayson brought on new man Jake Livermore for the impressive Barry Bannan and the Spurs loanee made an impact with some good passing and then a fantastic turn in the box before firing at the Forest ‘keeper. Becchio followed up but forced an impressive reaction save only for the ball to bounce out to Gradel to finish emphatically.

The exciting, free-flowing second half more than made up for dire first. The fact that Forest boss, Billy Davies, seemed so upset after the game and demonstrated one of his most ungracious post-match interviews probably suggests we were good for the win. However, there’s no doubt the sending off did affect the game though probably not as much as Billy Davies would like to think. Forest can feel as robbed as they just weren’t that good, neither we were but we managed to score four goals.

As far as a man-of-the-match is concerned, there are strong arguments for a few players and in truth it’s hard to decide. Barry Bannan looked classy in midfield, demonstrating an excellent first touch, great passing, good pace and strength in the tackle. Max Gradel would be an obvious choice for two well-taken goals but he also showed glimpses of the most frustrating Max we know, delaying passes and trying to take on one too many players. Jonny Howson imposed himself more on the game as it went on and Leigh Bromby was fantastic throughout, showing desire and defending well, and gave one of his best performances in a Leeds shirt.