It was Pascal Struijk that conceded the free-kick after being skinned by Nottingham Forest’s Brennan Johnson – and it was his header that set Johnson up to score. But, Tim Sherwood blames Leeds star Luke Ayling for his role in the goal.
Leeds had started the game well and should really have been in the lead, when Luis Sinisterra went through on goal. His shot saved by Keylor Navas, who impressed on debut. Leeds dominated possession, probing at the City Ground.
But out of nowhere, Struijk failed to deal with Johnson on the right and was forced to bring him down. He earned a yellow card – but the immediate aftermath did more damage. Struijk’s header away the free-kick saw Johnson score.
It looked as though Struijk was stuck in a mound of treacle, failing to get his feet right and heading into the ground. Untested. Johnson’s strike was sweet, leaving Illan Meslier no chance – the ball evading a busy penalty area of bodies.
Struijk had a poor game on Sunday. But Tim Sherwood, renowned for his controversial views on Leeds in the past – mostly on Marcelo Bielsa and burnout – blamed Ayling. He says he lost his man in Johnson, before he scored.
“Ayling at the backpost, I’ve no idea. He can’t see Johnson, that’s perfect. Then he takes a look towards the goalkeeper. I have no idea why he did that. Now he has to get 10 yards back,” Sherwood told the Premier League’s coverage.
Tim Sherwood blames Leeds star Luke Ayling for his role in Forest goal
Struijk is to blame. It was a silly free-kick to give away and it was a poor, headed clearance. The goal changed the game and it saw Forest revert to type, sticking regimented in their shell and proving hard to break down for Leeds.
But, Ayling deserves some criticism. While he is a defender and the necessity is to drop, Johnson was clever in giving himself some space. Pre-empting a clearance to the edge of the box. He outwitted Ayling, but Struijk must do better.