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Saturday, 28 October 2017

Leeds Utd v Sheffield Utd 27th Oct 2017.

Elland Road under the floodlights is always an iconic sight and tonight was no exception. An eager crowd of over 34,000 were hurrying to the ground for our clash with high flying Sheffield United. The pre match chatter focused on the possibility of Leeds repeating the form they found at Bristol and  clipping the Blades wings. Were Sheff Utd a flash in the pan? Would Billy Sharp score on his return to Leeds? Would Jansson start? These and many more questions teased the hordes of football fans gorging on that wonderful drug..............pre match expectation. We were about to find out the answers in front of a seething cauldron of football passion that is a Yorkshire derby.

Before the game we were all reminded that there are things in life a million times more important than winning a football game as 4 year old Toby Nye led the Leeds team out to an emotional reception from all sides of the ground. Leeds United supporters, players, staff and management had organised the "One day for Toby" appeal to raise £200k for Toby's treatment to fight the horrible cancer he has. The sight of Liam Cooper carrying Toby off the pitch after the pre match ceremonies was one that epitomised the support the Leeds United family is giving to Toby and his family. Good luck Little man.

Jansson remained on the bench with the only change from Bristol  seeing Anita replace the suspended Berardi at left back. Despite the game televised live on Sky the ground was packed and the atmosphere turned up to white hot as the game got underway. The Blades flew out of the blocks like Tasmanian Devils as they tore into their nervous and stuttering hosts. The ultra high pressing style that Chris Wilder has drilled into his South Yorkshire charges paid immediate dividends. A throw in on the left, a flick from Clarke to Duffy who clipped a ball to the back post for the unmarked Sharp to head into the Leeds net. 1.0 Blades. A simple goal for the visitors helped by some woeful marking and alertness in the Leeds defence. The fact that Leeds had never recovered after going behind this season hung heavy on my mind as Leeds restarted the game after just 2 minutes.

Sheffield had rattled Leeds with the early goal and they continued to press as high up the pitch as they could forcing Leeds into numerous errors especially at the back. Pennington looked nervous and Cooper struggled in his battle with Clarke. After 20 minutes Leeds were a tad lucky to still be in the game. Lonergan had pulled off two terrific saves to keep the home side in it. This wasn't looking good as the relentless pressure from Sheffield squeezed Leeds into a quivering uncertain outfit who were looking beaten already. Were they going to crumble like they did against the Blades neighbours and Millwall? It certainly looked like it but then on 34 minutes a piece of quality from Phillips dragged Leeds back into the game. A hopeful ball into the box fell to the Leeds midfielder on the edge of the box and he hit the sweetest of volleys past the helpless Sheffield goalie. Get innnnnnnnn! 1.1 and Leeds were back in it.

The goal gave Leeds some encouragement and suddenly Saiz was seeing more of the ball. Cynical tackling was needed to stop him by Sheffield as the home crowd bayed for blood. Sheffield still looked dangerous on the break though. Half time came with the scores level but the Blades well ahead on points. The Urinal Philosophers were frustrated. "Lonergan's kept us in it" one fan announced whilst another ranted "why is it every f****** Yorkshire derby we bottle it?" Finally one fan offered some hope "At least it's still all square" he said optimistically to a muted response.

TC needed to lift the team and get them playing higher up the pitch whilst eliminating some of the schoolboy errors that had contributed to Sheffield's dominance of the first half. Saiz was the shining light for Leeds as the Spaniard tried to inspire Leeds with his trickery. Problem was the lenient ref was allowing some robust attempts at tackles to stop him. The Blades started to tighten their grip on the game. Cooper left the field injured to be replaced by Jansson. A minute later came the turning point of the game. With both teams looking for that all important next goal Saiz picked the ball up and weaved his way through the Blades midfield before hitting a swerving shot that rattled the post and away to safety. It was one of those "out of you seat" moments of quality that can win games but unfortunately not this one.

Leeds were battling better and getting some traction going forward. More Saiz magic created a headed chance for Alioski but the blonde winger couldn't guide it past the visitor's keeper. Minutes later Hernandez replaced Alioski but it was the Blades who looked the most likely to snatch the winner. With less than 10 minutes to go they did just that. A sweet move sliced open the Leeds defence and a superb pass from Duffy released Brookes who slid the ball past Lonergan with ease. 2.1 Sheffield.

Grot came on for Leeds but their final assaults didn't test the Blades keeper too much and the match finished with a victory for Sheffield that takes them to the top of the league. The Blades were the better team on the night and deserved their victory against a disappointing Leeds team. Lasogga didn't show any sort of form up front. Only Saiz sparkled for Leeds with the defence looking brittle for most of the 90 minutes. Too many errors, too many lost tackles and too few moves with pace to worry an impressive Sheffield side. Not a good night at the office for TC's men. I don't think it was lost with the tactics I just think there were many players who had poor games. Saiz was magical at times though and we had two penalty shouts not given. Hernandez would probably have missed them though.

Ah well onto the Derby game on Tuesday. Which team will turn up for that one? Time will tell!

Can't wait.


1 comment:

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Thanks for your very honest review, I watched on Sky and the same players who tore BC apart looked like they had spent all week on 12 hour shifts and turned up for the weekend kick about, very disappointed was expecting much better, as we all know, this is Leeds and it will be a roller-coaster of a season, but for some reason I cannot fathom I still feel optimistic MOT

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