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Saturday, 10 February 2018

Sheff Utd v Leeds Utd. 10th Feb 2018.

After another interesting week off the pitch on Planet Leeds the focus returns to what's happening on the pitch as we head to Bramall Lane for a Yorkshire derby with Sheff Utd.  The departure of TC after the embarrassing defeat to Cardiff was not entirely unexpected but the choice of his successor, Paul Heckingbottom, was.  The ex Barnsley boss has definitely talked the talk well since joining Leeds in a typical no nonsense Yorkshire way that has struck a positive chord with the majority of fans including yours truly.  Can he convert all those fine words about how the team should play into reality on a freezing cold lunchtime in Sheffield though?  We were about to find out.

At least PH has O'Kane and Phillips available after their suspensions and Jansson making a remarkable recovery after the seemingly life threatening injury incurred last week should make team selection marginally better.  Rumours that PH had told the big Swede to "get thi sen on t'training pitch cos tha's playing on Saturday yer soft twat" seemed to have helped his recovery.

How would we deal with Leon Clarke this time round? Would Sheffield's lack of an experienced Goalie give Leeds an edge? What formation would PH deploy? There was lots to debate as we waited for Heckingbottom's first team sheet.  As expected there were changes and not just to the personnel as PH went for a 4-3-3 formation in his first game in charge. De Bock, Pennington, Jansson and Dallas were the back 4 with Phillips, Forshaw and O'Kane in midfield.  Up front Lasogga was supported by Roofe and Alioski.  The Leeds players wore black armbands in respect to Liam Miller who tragically lost his battle against cancer today.

Bramall Lane was crackling with atmosphere as the game got underway despite the swirling, cold, wet weather that had engulfed Sheffield.  What Leeds needed was a confident start but what they got was the complete opposite.  The Blades launched their first attack.........Duffy found acres of space on the right and chipped a ball to Billy Sharp on the edge of the box who volleyed a superb shot that left Wiedwald with no chance.  1.0 Blades after just 2 minutes.  Sharp wheeled away in delight as the boisterous away end was stunned into silence.  Why do ex players always score against us?  Sheffield fed on the early goal and attacked Leeds with vigour.  Sharp just missed a header from a corner as the mood amongst the Leeds fans turned sour.  The numerous Leeds managers stood near me had sacked Roofe, Alioski and Lasogga for being f****** useless after just 10 minutes.I hope they give the new coach til at least half time before they judge him I mused.

On 15 minutes Leeds had their first sniff of a chance as Alioski tried a weak overhead kick from a Jansson header after a free kick.  More vile abuse for Alioski from around me.  Jesus we don't half give our own players some stick if they're not at least the same standard as Messi.  The game was fast and furious just as you'd expect a local derby to be.  The Blades were edging the game as Leeds struggled to find any rhythm against the high pressing style of their opponents.  Lasogga lifted the spirits though on 23 minutes as he battled for the ball and hit a stinging 25 yard shot that beat both the goalie and the post. Just before half time Alioski took another heavy tackle to earn Leeds another free kick.  Roofe departed with concussion to be replaced by Hernandez.  The Spaniard made an immediate impact as he stroked the perfect free kick onto Jansson's head but the giant Blackman in the Sheffield goal pulled off a fantastic save as he clawed the header away for a corner.  HT 1.0 Blades.

The urinal philosophers were in an unforgiving mood as they tore into Roofe and Alioski 's efforts in the first half.  Even for this blog there was no comments I could repeat but safe to say both have suddenly been made life members of the LUFC fans "You're f****** shit" club.  Even the Heck didn't escape criticism as one fan declared "I knew we shouldn't have gone with the Barnsley twat he hasn't got a clue"  Wow.  I despair at times.

Leeds were out early for the 2nd half with PH's half time team talk ringing in their ears.  Would it turn things round? We got the answer after just 90 seconds of the restart.  Leeds pressed Sheffield and Hernandez recovered the ball and scuttled towards the Blades' box.  What happened next was pure poetry in motion.  Hernandez mesmerised two defenders with a little wiggle here and a little feint there as he floated the most delightful cross towards Lasogga who struck like a coiled Cobra to thunder a powerful header past Blackman into the net.  The away end exploded in total carnage as bodies flew past me to the right and left in celebration.  1.1 and Leeds were back in the game.

It was the Blades who were rattled now as the little Spanish Magician, Hernandez, struck fear into the hearts of the Blades defenders every time he got the ball and on 57 minutes when he jinked inside and fired a shot just over the bar I began to think we might just take all three points.  Sheffield rallied though with Duffy and Sharp pulling the strings the Blades started to apply the pressure to the creaking Leeds back four as the corner count started to build.  This was now a cracking game that both teams were looking to win.  Then on 72 minutes a moment of controversy settled the game.  The Blades won a free kick 30 yards out.  Fleck made a run into the box and took a short pass O'Kane challenged him and he went down like a sniper had shot him.  PENALTY!  From the away end it looked a stonewall penalty.  Billy Sharp stepped and converted with ease to put the Blades 2.1 up.

Leeds had 17 minutes to rescue something from the game.  Sacko replaced the injured Alioski as PH looked to pinch another equaliser.  Lasogga saw his header bounce off a defender to go behind but the referee somehow thought it was a goal kick which enraged the baying Leeds fans as did an apparent handball by a Blades defender in the box which was waved away by the ref.  Eckuban came on for Phillips as Leeds threw caution to the wind in search of an equaliser.  A couple of desperate goalmouth scrambles followed but Leeds couldn't prise open the Blades defence again and the game finished 2.1.

Hearing that the Blades penalty was debatable at best on the way home didn't do anything to improve my mood.  We did show a lot more fight than in recent weeks but PH will certainly be aware he has a big job on his hands to get Leeds back to winning ways.  Roofe did struggle as did Alioski at times.  De Bock isn't a natural attacking full back neither.  Hernandez did make an impact when he came on even in the heat of a pulsating local derby. Pennington and Jansson put in good shifts as well.  All in all I was pleased we played better despite losing.  PH needs time to show what he can do.  I hope he's not crucified before he does?

Bristol City up next for Leeds.  Yet another testing game for Leeds in the February month of death.  We did beat them at Ashton Gate so can we repeat that at Elland Road? Fingers crossed.

Can't wait.



Andy said...

Hi Andrew
It's a pity some of our fellow fans are so quick to derision. We have a new manager,
with good credentials and enough time to change the outcome of this season for us. I'm right behind him, and I also rate Alioski, who just needs to rediscover a bit of form.Today was better, and we are still missing Saiz.
Let's hope we can start a good run in our next game at home. Thanks for the great reports. MOT.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks for the comments. Alioski has some talent but he is a long way from the finished article. As you say we need time.

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Morning Andrew,
Football fans amaze me at times with their level of abuse and bile something i have always found difficult to understand.I thought we were better, the penalty was soft at best to these eyes Fleck was the one who made contact not o'kane. i suspect PH's appointment has triggered some discussion in your family circle didn't you say your daughter's boyfriend was a Barnsley fan, oh well bigger club and all that! i have heard him speak and have been very impressed JUST GIVE HIM A CHANCE.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Leeds Watcher
Yes the family debates have been interesting this week!

Unknown said...

Once again andrew a very good report it's hard been a Leeds fan all small margins if Pontius headed go.s in just before half time it's a different game then the penalty that was a joke win against Bristol and we have a slim hope lose and we start again next season

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