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Saturday, 24 February 2018

Leeds Utd v Brentford. 24th Feb 2018.

This week has managed to cram in the full set of emotions most Leeds fans have endured over the past decade and beyond ranging from the incredible atmosphere generated at all three matches through ecstatic celebration of goals to gut wrenching despair at woeful defending.  How any Leeds fans with any sort of heart problems are still alive is beyond me.  What's even more incredible is that after being dragged through the emotional wringer and still without a win in 2018 4000 tickets for our trip to Reading go on sale and are snapped up before you can say "we're f****** shit" Amazing!

Back to today's game though and the visit of Brentford to Elland Road.  The unfashionable West London team sit 4 points and a place above Leeds with a team of talented and hard working players who destroyed Leeds at Griffin Park earlier in the season. Can Leeds get that illusive first win of 2018?  Surely Saiz will start after his seismic impact off the bench at Derby? What will Hecky do with the leaky sieve like back 5? All questions debated healthily during the optimistic pre match refreshment session.

When it came Hecky's teamsheet was full of surprises.  No Hernandez, Forshaw, Roofe or De Bock with starts for Saiz, Alioski, O'Kane and Phillips.  Forshaw was with his wife giving birth, poor excuse, Hernandez and Roofe were injured and De Bock understandably was dropped.  The back 5 saw Wiedwald retain his place with Anita, Cooper, Jansson and Berardi in front of him.  Deceptively bright sunshine shone down on Elland Road with a chilly wind rattling around the stadium as the game got underway.  The Bees had the better of the scrappy opening exchanges as they looked to feed their wingers and attack the Leeds flanks.  The Leeds crowd were nervous as possession was given away too easily and very few 2nd balls were won.  Deja vu I'm afraid.  On 12 minutes Brentford's early pressure so nearly paid off as a stunning half volley from Egan was wonderfully saved by the under fire Wiedwald as he flung himself to the right to flick the ball away for a corner.

Brentford continued to build pressure and dominate possession as Leeds continued to struggle.  To add to the concern both Anita and Alioski received harsh yellow cards from the unbelievably pedantic referee.  What Leeds needed was something to lift not only the crowd but also the team.  On 30 minutes completely against the run of play they got it.  Dallas won the ball well and started on a diagonal run across the pitch going nowhere until he was brought down 35 yards out wide on the left.  The ironic cheers greeted the referee's decision.  Alioski lined up the kick and swung a lovely ball into the danger area for Cooper to glance the perfect header past the Bees goalie.  1.0 Leeds and the 28,000 crowd celebrated with a mixture of shock and relief.

The goal lifted Leeds and suddenly they were competing for 2nd balls better and giving the ball away less.  Saiz, Lasogga and Alioski all got shots away in quick succession as the West London side rocked under the sudden pressure from the home side.  Leeds continued to dig in as the game got to half time with the score still 1.0 and Brentford finally got a yellow card after Sawyers had fouled Alioski.  It seemed strange hearing a good ovation for the team going off at half time after our recent run.

The Urinal Philosophers were in a chirpy mood, "Wiedwald's save was reminiscent of Gary Sprake" thought one fan whilst another was seething about the ref "why, why, why are ref's so inconsistent?"  Finally one captured the consensus view "God we've missed Saiz haven't we" as the urinating collective nodded sagely in agreement.  Could we keep it going in the 2nd half and get the three precious points though?

Leeds started well as three times they split the Brentford defence with passes only for Alioski and Lasogga to be ruled offside.  The ref continued to baffle the home fans with his decisions.  Apparently football is now a non contact sport in his eyes and under no circumstances do you allow play to continue when he's a chance to blow his f****** whistle.  First Saiz was fouled but shrugged off the attention only to be called back from a dangerous position followed by a similar decision on Lasogga.  Absolutely unbelievable decisions.  When the game was allowed to flow Leeds were now digging in to prevent the Bees' plentiful possession from turning into a goal.  O'Kane and Phillips were breaking up play with Cooper and Jansson commanding at the back.  Saiz was just fantastic backed up by hard working Alioski and Dallas.  On the hour Lasogga danced through the Bees defence only to see his shot cleared off the line.

Ekuban replaced Lasogga with 15 minutes to go closely followed by Sacko coming on for Dallas.  Nerves were jangling in the stands as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes.  We can't concede another late goal can we?  Jansson was harshly penalised on the edge of the box to give a free kick to Bees. 90 seconds left.  Judge fired in a powerful shot straight at Wiedwald.........the German keeper chose to punch the ball straight out to Canos...........Elland Road held it's breath as the Brentford striker's shot went high and wide.  Saiz left the field to thunderous applause to be replaced by Vieira for the last two minutes as Leeds saw the game out for their first win of the year and a welcome clean sheet.  Final score 1.0 Leeds.

This was not a classic but it was a gritty, hard working performance from a team showing clear signs of enjoying their new coach's tactics.  We still have a tendency to give the ball away too easily and the defending at times leaves a lot to be desired but there is a good team spirit on show.  Saiz has made a massive impact since coming back and continued today.  At times he's unplayable. Lasogga is a different player now although not the quickest he takes up some intelligent positions as we go forward.  It's all looking good for our visit to the Riverside on Friday.  One game at a time now and see where we go.

Can't wait.


1 comment:

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Thanks for the review Andrew,good feeling to finally get a win, listened to PH after the game the more I hear the more I like. MOT

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