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Friday, 1 December 2017

Leeds Utd v Aston Villa. 1st Dec 2017.

With temperatures hovering around zero hats, scarves and plenty of layers was the order of the day for the 30,000 fans scuttling to Elland Road for the Friday night clash with Aston Villa. Villa on the back of an impressive run of form had gatecrashed the play off positions and with their expensively assembled squad looked formidable opposition for TC's men in yet another televised game featuring Leeds. After the weekend's defeat of Barnsley could Leeds follow that up with victory against Steve Bruce's charges? Would ex Leeds star Snodgrass terrorise Berardi? Would Ekuban continue his impressive initial form? We were about to find out.

As expected Vieira replaced O'Kane in and otherwise unchanged side. Dallas and Lasogga were still injured although there was plenty of speculation on social media and in the ground as to the real reason for Lasogga's absence. Leeds fans do like a good conspiracy theory. The game got under way with the sold out away section adding to the atmosphere inside the Elland Road cauldron. Leeds were on the front foot from the start and didn't allow Villa to settle. Passes were whizzing from one white shirt to another as the crowd warmed to the positive start from Leeds. Phillips and then Hernandez both missed the target with shots from outside the box after neat build up play. At the other end Snodgrass and Odomah had weak shots that Wiedwald dealt with easily.

As the clock approached the 20 minute mark the lumbering ogre like Villa centre half, Samba, conceded a corner. Hernandez trotted across to take the corner and swung an inch perfect ball into the Villa 6 yard box and onto Jansson's head. 1.0 Leeds and the ground was rocking. Leeds deserved the lead with a goal to warm the cockles of the fans hearts. Leeds were dominating possession with Vieira and Hernandez the stand out players. Young Vieira was bossing much older and experienced midfielders with some youthful panache. Leeds were making a good Villa side look average as they looked for a second goal to consolidate their advantage. Things were all going to plan until 2 minutes before half time when Hernandez went down with an injury and had to leave the pitch to be replaced by Roofe. Mmmm we were going to miss the little Spanish playmaker. The half finished with Cooper missing his usual header unmarked in the box. He will score from a set piece I'm sure but I just don't know when? Half time 1.0 Leeds.

The Urinal Philosophers were in a subdued mood despite the dominating first half performance. "We're well on top" one fan piped up but straight away one of the glass half empty brigade shouted "We were against Derby as well but let that one slip" Another thought that "We need a striker and quick" Strange how I can enter the Gents full of the joys of the first half and come out slightly depressed and shaking my head. We were one nil up against one of the strongest teams in the league let's at least enjoy that little oasis of happiness while it lasts!

Steve Bruce clearly had "livened" his team up at half time and made some subtle tactical changes. Suddenly it was the West Midlanders who were on the front foot. Odomah finished off a decent Villa move with only Wiedwald to beat but the German stood tall and saved the day. The first half creativity from Hernandez had gone for Leeds as they were forced back by Bruce's team. Maybe misery guts in the Gents was right with his Derby comment? The game became a bit scrappy with a number of niggly fouls. Alan Hutton seemed to think he could kick anybody and not get booked as did the ref. Leeds needed some inspiration and not for the first time this season they got it from Saiz who whipped a wicked ball into the box where first Ekuban then Roofe then Alioski were inches away from doubling the lead. How did that not go in. On the hour Cooper did get a header in the net but was offside. Frustration began to eat away at the Leeds confidence. Villa brought on Grealish and Lansbury after 65 minutes. Not a bad 2 to have on the bench?

The Villa subs gave them extra impetus and the Leeds back four started to creak as the visitors turned the screw. On 71 minutes the Leeds defence buckled. Jansson made a superb sliding tackle only to see the ball ricochet to Lansbury who was unmarked 35 yards out. He drove nearer to the goal but by the time Cooper went to challenge him it was too late as the super sub smashed a low shot via the post past Wiedwald. 1.1 Bollox! Could Leeds hang on or would they fall apart again?

Desperation ran through both teams as they tried to steal the winner. Sacko came on for the tiring Ekuban. Hutton finally got booked after his 456th foul of the night as the game went into 7 minutes of added time. Grot replaced Alioski but the game ended all square 1.1. A draw was a fair result in a game of two halves. Leeds lost momentum when Hernandez went off just as Villa picked up their game in the 2nd half. Hernandez, Vieira and Jansson were the stand out players for Leeds. Ekuban put a good shift in up front again but just the one shot on goal by Leeds tells it's own story.

Leeds are in a better shape than they were a few weeks ago and are set well for what should be a decent run of games in the run up to Xmas which hopefully will see us back in the play off positions. QPR away is next on the agenda for TC's men. Let's hope we can start with a little bit of pre Xmas cheer at Loftus Road?

Can't wait.



Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Good review as usual, I felt that our first half was excellent not so hot second, I also thought Ayling,Roofe, Phillips and Alioski were poor and by his own high standards Saiz was not at his best but 3 weeks ago we would have lost MOT

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks for the comments. Ayling is vulnerable defensively IMO. Hernandez going off was a big blow. I thought he was running the show with Vieira.

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