Wigan Athletic arrived at Elland Road languishing in the relegation zone of the Championship with only a solitary point gained on their travels this season. Just the ideal team to play after the frustrating defeat at Derby? Especially with Leeds looking for their 5th straight win on the bounce at the Theatre of Hope. All rationale logic suggested a handsome win for Garry Monk’s men…………..but since when has logic had the remotist relationship with Leeds United?
We joined the 19,000 crowd just in time for kick off. Just the one change for Leeds as Roofe got the nod over Mowatt on the left wing. A chance for the ex-Oxford man to show he is adapting to the hustle and bustle of the Championship? The away end appeared to have more stewards than fans as the game got underway. Jacobs and Powell had early shots for the visitors but neither troubled Green in the Leeds goal. Both teams tried to play the game on the floor in the first twenty minutes but with each team pressing hard possession swapped frequently between both sides.
Wood had Leeds first real shot on 23 minutes as he snapped a left foot shot from distance low to the Wigan goalie’s right but minutes later he went one better. Sacko started the move with a quick break down the right as he ran at the fullback he benefited from a fortuitous heavy first touch before swinging a delicious cross to the back post. Wood drifted off his marker, chested the ball down and smashed it into the net in some style. 1.0 Leeds. The goal lifted Leeds and they enjoyed a good period of pressure. Wood excnaged passes with Roofe and the winger should have done better with his shot from 12 yards. Phillips then clipped a free kick over the bar. Wigan did recover some composure and threaten the Leeds goal with Jacobs seeing his shot blocked before Jansson doused Will Grigg’s fire with a superb block on the edge of the box. A minute later it took an excellent double save from Green to keep the whites in front though. Half Time 1.0 Leeds.
Leeds weren’t firing on all cylinders but with their noses in front the home fans were hoping for a 2nd goal to kill off their Lancastrian rivals. Monk’s half time team talk seemed to have done the trick as a sweet one two between Wood and Sacko released the flying winger and the young loanee hurtled into the box only to drive the ball too near the keeper and for him to scramble it away for a corner. Wood snatched at a half chance from the corner but this was encouraging from Leeds. Wood was winning his duel with the Wigan defence, Ayling and Taylor threatened down the flanks and Sacko looked not only a danger to the defence but also himself as his erratic touch bamboozled most people in the ground. Ayling and Roofe had decent shots on goal as the hour mark approached. Leeds were relatively comfortable but there was still the nagging issue of just the single goal lead. On 66 minutes Grimes replaced Sacko. The young winger received a standing ovation whilst the Wigan bench did a celebratory jig. Strange substitution?
Leeds continued to look for a second goal and they nearly succeeded when Wood met an Ayling cross and looped a header to the far post drawing a good save from the Wigan goalie. Hernandez was next to be subbed making way for Mowatt, cue another jig in the Wigan dug out! The two players who were creating the most threat to the Wigan back line were now watching from the bench. Still there was only 26 minutes to go………………… The subs did impact the game but in Wigan’s favour. They seemed to get a second wind sensing they could get an equaliser. Max Power tried a shot from outside the box but it went high and wide. 10 minutes left and the confident encouragement from the Leeds fans started to be drowned out by the sound of squeaky bums. Misplaced passes from the men in white exasparated the situation. Antonsson then replaced my man of the match Wood for the last 5 minutes. Len Goodman had now arrived in the Wigan dug out to judge the celebratory dances.
So it was with sickening predictability that Wigan got their reward in the 91st minute as a deep corner was headed back into the box for MacDonald to fire into the top corner of the Leeds goal leaving the vast majority of the crowd frustrated, angry and absloutely gutted. Unbelievable Jeff! It was too late for Leeds to respond and the game ended 1.1. Bollox.
You could hear the seething frustration oozing from fans as we headed back to the car. Why did we sit back? Why did he sub Sacko/Hernandez/Wood? or words to that affect was the general view. Football is a very cruel mistress at times. Leeds had classically snatched a draw from the jaws of victory and in doing so had created a black cloud of depression over LS11.
Wolves away on Saturday. Will Leeds find their killer touch? Will Roofe keep his place? Will Sacko improve his first touch? Time will tell!