Why Leeds United have the psychological edge over Forest

Leeds United Crest

Saturday's encounter at Elland Road sees Nottingham Forest arrive with ambitious play-off hopes, but Neil Redfearn's men have a slight advantage.

A crowd approaching 30,000 is expected at Elland Road as two of the Sky Bet Championship's biggest clubs and most in-form teams meet in a fixture that has always bristled with intensity.

With Forest nine points adrift of Brentford in the final play-off spot, a win is essential for Dougie Freedman's men if they are to maintain their slim hope of gatecrashing the promotion race, but Leeds will be looking at three mental barriers that give them a slight edge.

1. Leeds have already beaten a Dougie Freedman team at Elland Road this season. Bolton arrived at the end of August and were beaten 1-0 by a Stephen Warnock strike. It was the first game of Neil Redfearn's caretaker manager stint, in which he immediately promoted youngsters Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt to the starting line up for the first time in 2014-15. With Bolton on a bad run themselves, Freedman would be sacked just over a month later.

2. Forest have dropped points away from home recently. While Freedman has been rightly hailed for his immediate impact at the City Ground, the two games he has failed to win in his eight game reign were both away from home. Last time out they were beaten 2-1 at Charlton Athletic, and previously drew 4-4 at lowly Blackpool on Valentine's Day, dropped points that may prove decisive in their uphill battle for a play-off place. Forest's armour may look impenetrable, but away blemishes are a slight chink in the armour for Leeds to exploit.

3. In the reverse fixture Forest were incensed by disallowed goals. Matty Fryatt put Forest 1-0 ahead on the stroke of half time in the pre-Christmas fixture, but a Billy Sharp penalty restored parity and earned a hard-fought point for the visitors in a 1-1 draw. In between, however, Fryatt scored two goals that were both chalked off for offside. Replays showed that on both occasions the advantage should have gone to the attacker, and Leeds were fortunate that the goals didn't stand. While a team can sometimes be motivated by a sense of injustice, it can also become a mental barrier, and with Forest missing a number of other good chances on the night, they may feel like they will never get the three points against Leeds.

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