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Monday, 1 January 2018

Leeds Utd v Nottm, Forest. 1st January 2018.

Happy New Year everybody and welcome to 2018. Thing is will this be another false dawn for the mighty whites or are we truly on our way back to Footballing normality and even better the Premier League? For the latter January and February will be the deciding months as the transfer window opens followed by a month with games against Cardiff, Sheff Utd, Bristol City, Derby and finally Brentford all teams with play off and promotion hopes.  If ever there was a time for togetherness, side before self, positive support and sheer bloody mindedness by the club, team, management and fans it is now.  There will inevitably be setbacks but if we arrive at the Ides of March still occupying a top six place then the dreams can really begin.

Anyhow enough of the Churchillian speeches and back to today's game against managerless Forest.  The first day of 2018 saw slate grey skies and rain falling on West Yorkshire as we headed for LS11 to see Leeds try to make up for the hugely disappointing display at Birmingham.  Once again the TV cameras were in position for the umpteenth time this season to see their favourite revenue generating team take on Forest.  After tales of excess and debauchery from the night before the main talking point amongst the fans gathering for tentative pre match drinks was team selection.  Would Saiz start from the off? Is the mercurial Vieira fit again?  What about Lasogga and Shaughnessy?  It was a New Year but it was the same heady mix of pre match hope, expectation, opinions all blended with the odd drop of alcohol.  Delicious.

TC's team sheet showed changes as O'Kane returned in place of Shaughnessy and Saiz ousted Cibicki in what was a more attacking set up for the whites. Lasogga still had to make do with a place on the bench. Still no Vieira though. Another huge crowd was inside Elland Road with a disappointing number making the short trip from Nottingham as the game got under way.  Hernandez was first to get a shot away as he forced a save from the Forest goalie after good work by Phillips with just 3 minutes on the clock.  This was the positive start I was hoping for and soon the home crowd were cheering in awe at a fabulous goal saving tackle from Cooper to deny Brereton on the penalty spot.  Everybody glanced at the referee but the timing and cleanness that Cooper took the ball was perfect and even this Ref couldn't get that wrong.  He certainly made up for it as the game went on with some woefully inconsistent decisions.

Leeds finished the first 15 minutes of the match with a flurry of activity that so nearly brought the first goal.  First Jansson connected with a corner forcing a save from Smith in the Forest goal followed quickly by another Jansson header from another corner being blocked on the line.  Roofe's attempted overhead kick from the rebound went inches over the bar.  Roofe had another chance but fired over.  It was all a bit disjointed though and frustrating for the crowd as passes went astray.  Things got worse when Ayling clattered into ex Leeds man Bridcutt and had to go off injured.  Anita replaced him.  The scrappiness of the half continued with the only bright spot when Jansson launched a controlled tackle from half a mile away on Lichaj which took the ball cleanly into touch.  The snowflake referee booked the Leeds man presumably for snarling in a threatening manner at the Forest full back?  Ridiculous.  Half time 0.0 and muffled boos could be heard from the hard to please Leeds fans.

The Urinal Philosophers weren't that impressed with the first half showing, "what is Alioski on?  He can't keep on his feet and can't control the ball" pondered one fan.  Another had praise for Cooper's tackle "What a tackle from Cooper. Fagin's pickpockets couldn't have done better"  Finally one fan wasn't happy with Roofe, "he's still too f****** isolated up front and getting battered by the centre half" The first half wasn't a classic but clearly Forest were there for the taking.  But could Leeds create and convert more in the 2nd half?  We were about to find out as TC replaced the misfiring  Alioski with Lasogga and moved Roofe out wide.

Leeds started the 2nd period with much more tempo and forward aggression.  Phillips blasted a good opportunity high and wide and then adjusted his range a minute later to fire just over the bar.  The atmosphere and anticipation rose amongst the 32,000 Leeds managers in the stands.  Then we witnessed a piece of play that was worth the entrance money alone.  Saiz picked the ball up in his own half and set the Forest goal in his Sat Nav and started on a mazy run that bamboozled the Forest players as he left 3 or 4 for dead.  The crowd roared him on as he approached the Forest box with absolute panic amongst the defenders.........his sublime pass to Roofe on the edge of the box left the striker with a free shot on goal.  The groans of the crowd told it's own story as his shot clipped the bar and went behind.  What a run though! When Saiz is running he reminds me at times of Fred Flinstone when he does his twinkle toes run up at the Ten Pin Bowling.  Brilliant.

Saiz released Roofe again 5 minutes later but his shot failed to test the keeper as it fizzed over the bar.  Leeds were now playing a lot better but would they regret not converting their chances?  It certainly seemed so as Forest had a purple patch just on the hour Walker, Osborn and Dowell all had chances but the Leeds defence held firm.  The referee continued to frustrate the home fans with some odd decisions but he certainly had no choice but to book Lichaj after the Forest full back cynically dragged down Hernandez when he turned him on the half way. Leeds were now building a head of steam as they looked for a goal that would secure three more precious points.  Jansson had another header from a corner saved..

The final 10 minutes arrived and TC threw Sacko on to try and break the deadlock withdrawing Roofe.  Yet more magic from Saiz set up Hernandez in the box with a similar chance to the one he had on Saturday but Smith, like Stockdale, pulled off a superb save.  Lasogga was trying harder than I've seen before and with 4 minutes left he connected with a back post cross from Sacko but just couldn't get enough power on his header to beat Smith.  Minutes later he harried a Forest defender and recovered the ball before sweetly turning the final defender and drilling a stinging shot straight at Smith.  More chances gone begging along with another cynical foul by Lichaj that somehow didn't get him a 2nd yellow and an early bath.  My blood pressure was high after that decision but was bursting through the mercury tube when Saiz was booked for being fouled by Traore near the corner flag.  The referee was unbelievably bad. He was going to need a police escort out of Leeds after this one.

Despite the late assault on the Forest goal and despite 6 minutes of added time Leeds couldn't find a goal and the game finished 0.0.  Very frustrating but we did have enough chances to win 2 or 3 nil disregarding the Ref's abysmal showing.  Jansson was outstanding again ably supported by Cooper with Saiz and Hernandez in fine form going forward.  Sky bizarrely gave the MOM to Bridcutt?  There was lots of frustration in the air as we strode away from the ground.  It wasn't a classic but the 2nd half provided plenty of excitement as Leeds looked for that vital goal.  Lasogga had one of his better appearances in a white shirt but just seems to lack that bit of pace that's needed in the Championship.  Anita struggled early on but improved as the game went on.  The case for the need to strengthen in the January window has been improved significantly over the weekend though with Left back and striker the positions in most need.

Next week is FA Cup week at Newport.  Unfortunately I've not secured a ticket for that one so BBC Wales will be my weapon of choice next Sunday lunchtime.  I'm expecting plenty of changes for that one.  Will there be any new faces before we travel to Ipswich though?  Fasten your seatbelts we could be in for a bumpy ride.

Can't wait.



Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Very very frustrating �� but great review as always, it's not often I disagree with you but I thought Lasogga was poor he looks overweight and unfit to these eyes, still in top 6 but the squad needs a couple of new faces I feel. MOT

Ed said...

Ha, Fred Flinstone, luv it.

Your first para bang on. Top 6 come March and game on but with current squad and clubs queuing up behind us in league, a big, big ask.

A fit Ekuban would help or failing that, a new signing at number 9. A player to turn draws in to wins. Am I asking too much?

Happy New Year.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Leeds watcher,
I just thought Lasogga was better than before. I think his issue is his lack of pace. Not sure he is overweight but he looks muscle bound to me? Which ever way don't think he's the answer to the no 9 problem. Thanks for your comments.

Thanks for your comments and glad you liked the Flintstone analogy.


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