Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper says Brennan Johnson is now showing he belongs at Premier League level after his match-winning strike against Leeds.
The 21-year-old scored the only goal of the game at the City Ground on Sunday as he fired in from the edge of the area to earn his side a crucial three points against a side around them in the table.
Johnson has been an integral part of Forest’s fine start to 2023, where they have picked up 11 points from five games, as has scored three goals and bagged two assists.
It took the Wales international a while to find his feet this season, but Cooper is delighted with how he is flourishing.
“We’re really happy seeing Brennan feel like he belongs at the level and that he can make a difference,” Cooper said.
“It was a brilliant goal. You don’t get many chances in this league.
“He scored a load of goals last year. He was getting more chances than what he’ll get this year, but at the moment he’s taking his opportunities. That’s what players who play in that position and end up doing well in this league do.
“He’s showing it at the moment, but he needs to get back in and work even harder, look at his game and put some things together on the training pitch, like everybody else. That’s how we aim to improve.”
Things might have been different had Leeds not been wasteful in a first half where they created regular chances.
A mixture of bad finishing and good goalkeeping from Keylor Navas meant it was another defeat for Leeds, who have not won in seven league games.
Another relegation battle is looming and striker Patrick Bamford says his side have to draw on last year’s experience.
“Jesse (Marsch) just said it in there that we need men to stand up and be counted for,” he said.
“Fortunately, in our dressing room, we’ve got a few people that have been through this before, and a few experienced players.
“So we kind of know what we need to do and we’ll just drag the young players with us and hopefully we’ll be fine.”
On his side’s missed chances, Bamford told LUTV: “It almost sums up the season a little bit. We’ve created a lot of chances, and if we score the first goal, then I think we’d probably go on and get a couple.
“But we know what they’re like, and once they get the first goal they were very tactically sound defensively and just made it difficult.
“In the end, we didn’t have the answer and we kind of tailed off a bit in the second half. Sometimes it just doesn’t click and we did create a good few clear chances and one of those have to go in.
“You can have days like that, and you can have days where all of the chances go in. We’ve just got to try and make sure that we have more of those days than ones like today.”