FOOTBALL: McLeish likes what he sees

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New Nottingham Forest manager Alex McLeish was encouraged by what he saw from the directors’ box yesterday as his new team secured a last-gasp 2-2 draw in their npower Championship clash with Crystal Palace.

McLeish, installed as Sean O’Driscoll’s successor on Thursday, watched his side go behind twice to strikes from Glenn Murray at the City Ground, but goals from Andy Reid and Billy Sharp - the latter in stoppage time - earned them a point.

“They could easily have put their heads down after Palace had taken the lead again in the last 10 minutes but they fought right to the death and that shows great character,” the former Birmingham and Aston Villa boss said.

The Scot added: “I was delighted with the crowd, too. They appreciated what the players were doing and I think the excitement they created gave the fans the impetus to roar us on.’’

Cardiff assistant manager David Kerslake rejected the claim that his team were lucky to claim another win after Rudy Gestede’s early goal clinched a 1-0 home win over Millwall, keeping the Bluebirds five points clear at the top.

“Not at all,” he said. “We started exceptionally well. We had a really high tempo in the first 25 minutes, got at them and scored the early goal.”

Hull kept the pressure on the Welsh side by overcoming Leeds 2-0 with second-half goals from Corry Evans and David Meyler.

“It’s been a huge month for us. Six games, won five, drawn one...” said Tigers boss Steve Bruce, whose side dropped only two points in December - in a goalless draw with Leicester on Boxing Day. “I couldn’t have wished for a better return.”

Middlesbrough stayed third after a 4-2 win over Blackpool, with Boro grateful to goalkeeper Jason Steele for saving Thomas Ince’s late penalty with the score at 3-2.

Ishmael Miller, Richard Smallwood, Scott McDonald and Adam Reach found the net for Mowbray’s side, with Wes Thomas and Chris Basham on the scoresheet for the visitors.

Watford retained their place in the play-off spots with a 3-1 victory at Brighton. Troy Deeney put the Hornets ahead before David Lopez levelled from the spot, but two goals in two minutes from Matej Vydra gave the visitors the points.

Leicester boss Nigel Pearson acknowledged it was all about the result after David Nugent’s goal handed the fifth-placed Foxes a scrappy 1-0 success at Burnley.

“Today it was all about getting three points and it didn’t matter how we did it,” Pearson said.

Bristol City boss Derek McInnes urged his side to kick on after their 4-2 home win over fellow strugglers Peterborough.