Yeh it looks good huh.
It’s been a while but Leeds are, for now at least, back up the top of the League One table after a resounding win against a lacklustre Gillingham. This meeting was never billed as a classic, in fact with all the camaraderie surrounding Tuesday’s Carling Cup meeting with Liverpool many fans expected it to be a low profile game with a smatteringly small crowd.
Luckily for those fully focused on the 8th game in the 2009/2010 League One season, Simon ‘Larry’ Grayson was keeping his players firmly focused on their league opposition, a point highlighted after the game as he revealed that the cup tie hadn’t been mentioned by any of the players or the playing staff.
For both sides, on the field matters have often been overshadowed by the verbal exchanges between the two clubs respective chairmen, relating to Leeds’ points deduction two seasons ago for ‘financial irregularities’. Gills chairman Paul Scally was very much in favour of the punishment and his war of words with his Leeds’ opposite, has continued to rumble. It is a shame that these off field matters have added nothing but a rather saddeningly needless sideshow to the match which took place today, however thankfully for the (home) fans at least, matters on the pitch were certainly more emphatic.
Leeds started the game with the same side who drew away to Southend the week previous but at home, Leeds are enjoying an extremely rich vein of form – their win today made it 15 straight league wins at Elland Road and the victory was never in doubt as Bradley Johnson’s bullet header from a Robert Snodgrass corner put the home side ahead inside 14 minutes. Johnson has developed significantly as a player both in confidence and all round skill in under a year under the tutelage of Simon Grayson and he is in fine scoring him, today netting his forth and fifth goals of the season.
Johnson’s second came from nowhere as he was allowed to turn, run and shoot from a narrow angle, which crept through the legs of Gills keeper Simon Royce. As Leeds entered the comfort zone, the flow and urgency of the game faded and Leeds passed the ball around with ease as Gillingham struggled to gain a foot hold in the match. It was a frustrating end to the half as the home fans were anxious to put the game far beyond Gillingham’s reach.
The half time entertainment still leaves much to be desired at Elland Road; having recruited Dominos pizzas as a sponsor, fans have the chance to get a pizza delivered to their seat (which they actually get given at the side of the pitch and have to carry it back to their own seat) by scoring a goal from the half way line. Not a specially difficult task but thanks to Lubomir Michalik, today’s lucky fan won a DAB radio and a pizza, which Neil Kilkenny seemed to be enquiring about, possibly on behalf of Andy Robinson, who was eyeing it up.
Back to the football and the home fans didn’t have long to wait for the three points to be wrapped up as Jermaine Beckford’s deft flick from Snodgrass’ pass was latched on to by captain Jonny Howson, who volleyed home in emphatic style. Leeds almost made it four a minute later but Beckford’s thunderous shot came back off the crossbar.
As Leeds again sat back, it was Gillingham who clawed a goal back through Andy Barcham, the first Leeds have conceded from open play this season and one which stirred the away team to try and muster a comeback however things were put to bed on 80 minutes when Michael Doyle’s deflected effort came back off the cross bar. Beckford was all alone as he headed into an empty net for his 6th goal of the campaign.
In truth, the match wasn’t a classic but Leeds showed glimpses of the type of football which will undoubtedly see them there or there abouts this season (hopefully). Grayson has put together a squad capable of grinding out results away from home, and turning on the style in front of the home supporters; and with strikers Luciano Becchio and Beckford always likely to be topping the club’s scoring charts, it was refreshing to see the midfield getting in on the goal scoring action. With a formidable back line which rarely lets in a goal, and a keeper who’s confidence is mirrored in the strength of the back line, things are looking very positive for the West Yorkshire club.