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Monday, 17 April 2017

Leeds United v Wolverhampton Wanderers. 17th April 2017.

So after dramatically rising from the dead to snatch a point at Newcastle on Good Friday could Garry Monk's disciples cement their play off place with a victory over Wolves at Fortress Elland Road? Another huge crowd had assembled at the old stadium with anticipation, trepidation and expectation dripping from every Leeds fan as they made their way to their seats. How does Jansson avoid another yellow that would trigger a 3 match ban in the last 4 games? Will Wood need more than one shot to score a goal? Will Vieira give the ball away? All questions that were eagerly debated as we had some pre match refreshments. With all the teams around us picking up points over the weekend this truly was a "must win" game if the Leeds United juggernaut was to keep up it's destructive route to the Play offs.

The team news was almost non existent when it came with the starting 11 unchanged from Friday's heroics but Vieira missing from the bench due to illness. The game kicked off in bright but cold sunshine with Leeds attacking the kop for the first 45 minutes. Wolves, who are meandering to a mid table finish, dominated the opening exchanges as Leeds lacked any sort of cohesion in their play. Passes went astray and basic mistakes littered the first twenty minutes with Rob Green needing to be on his toes on more than one occasion especially when Berardi slipped and let Weimann in but the Leeds keeper swatted away his one on one chance. This wasn't in the script for the afternoon.

Eventually Leeds did put some pressure on the Wolves back four resulting in a corner. Hernandez clipped a perfect ball into the box where Bartley lost his man and received a blatant push in the back which grounded the big Leeds man. PENALTY 32,000 fans shouted but the ref bottled it and waved play on. Bartley's continued protests were waved away by the pretentious Ref. As if to rub salt into the Leeds wound worse was about to follow. Jansson strode out of defence with some purpose. He looked up and saw no options so he continued on his barnstorming dribble deep into the Wolves half before losing the ball on the edge of the visitors box. Wolves countered with the speed of a fleeing Gazelle as they sensed the disarray in the Leeds back four. Dicko made the perfect run through the gap where Pontus should have been and rolled the ball past Green. 1.0 Wolves. No more than Wolves deserved to be fair.

Leeds did respond quickly with Bridcutt releasing Wood in the box but his shot from a tight angle was deflected for a corner that somehow turned into a goal kick in the ref's eyes. Unbelievable!  The half time whistle blew after one of the most disappointing 45 minutes at Elland Road all season. Too many stray passes, too many mistakes and too little creativity from Leeds. Were the play off nerves getting to Garry Monk's men? A poor first half performance was one thing but the results from elsewhere were another. With Wednesday and Fulham both winning we had dropped out of the top six for the first time since November something the urinal philosophers were quick to jump on. "That's it we've fucked up the play offs now" announced one pessimist "We're playing too deep" offered another fan "Do we still get our money back if we don't make the play offs" one mercenary fan wanted to know!

What ever Leeds were trying to do it wasn't working. The midfield just weren't gelling and the tempo was far too slow to break down the resolute Wolves defence. Changes were needed if we were going to get anything out of this game. Leeds did look brighter as the second half got under way. Ayling finished a period of Leeds pressure with a thumping left footed drive into the South stand followed by both Jansson and Bartley going near with headers at corners. This was better but still not enough to rattle the Wolves rearguard. Sacko replaced Bridcutt as Monk tried get more urgency into the Leeds attack. Bridcutt and Phillips were spending more time in the Leeds back four than in midfield. Taylor then replaced Berardi to give a more attacking threat down the left. Leeds were still stuttering though rather than purring as the crowd became more and more agitated. Wolves retreated into their den and invited Leeds onto them. Doukara replaced Pedraza with just 18 crucial minutes to go. Could Leeds now get the vital equaliser?

Another penalty shout for handball was turned down as the clock ticked away. Doukara and Roofe went near but Leeds didn't really put any pressure on the visitors as a frustrating game petered out to a desperately disappointing defeat. Full Time 1.0 Wolves. Worse still we were now in 7th spot in the league albeit on goal difference. Squeaky bum time just got squeakier. This was a poor Leeds performance especially from the midfield combination. Passes weren't crisp enough and I can't remember a single one two that came off all afternoon. Taylor made a difference when he came on but I suspect there will be some tinkering with the team selection for the Burton game. Bridcutt and Phillips played too deep and again there was little support for Wood up top.

3 massive games left. Two wins should see us into the play offs but thank god Wednesday and Fulham play each other on the last day. The Juggernaut stalled badly today. It must find all the right gears at mighty Burton Albion or else our season might just be gone for the proverbial..............Time for cool heads and nerves of steel from Garry Monk's band of brothers. Tighten your seat belts this turbulence could hurt us. Something tells me I will have lost all signs of any fingernails long before we go to Wigan...........

Can't wait.


1 comment:

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Excellent piece as always, I am going to Burton on Saturday hoping we can get back on track. For the first time ever I want Huddersfield to win on Saturday, here's hoping

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