It’s becoming a bit of trend with Leeds United in recent weeks; against Bristol City, Leeds collected three points by yet again having to face a team without a full quota, by virtue of yet more red cards.
The stat is a startling one; in four out of five games, Leeds’ opposition have finished the game minus one, or in yesterdays case, two of their players. Against Burnley, Kieran Trippier’s red card resulted (somewhat) in Leeds robbing three points; Shaun Scannell was sent off for Palace where Leeds grabbed a point. Against Ipswich, Alex McCarthy’s early exit paved the way for a more convincing win before the two at Bristol brought up the total.
Lady luck it seems, is courting Leeds in a manner befitting of a future, more serious relationship but rarely has a caretaker manager made such a low key impression ahead of staking his claim for the job outright.
Neil ‘Redders’ Redfearn has been placed in temporary charge while the club begin a search for a new manager and looked largely to have started where Grayson left off. Adam Smith, on loan from Tottenham, came in at right back for Zac Thompson while Danny Pugh replaced Andros Townsend.
As so often with Leeds in recent months, they were on the back foot as Bristol City took advantage of a clearly nervous and slightly disorganised visiting side. Yannick Bolasie was the first to pull a fine save out of Andy Lonergran before Leeds old-boy Neil Kilkenny kept him on his toes with a fierce drive.
Brizzle were dominating as Leeds’ midfield struggled to find position, let alone the ball while the defence was being pulled apart at will by a free-flowing home side. Their problem was finishing; a goal seemed certain but unexpectedly came from Leeds. A wonderful move involving Luciano Becchio, Danny Pugh and Ross McCormack played in Rob Snodgrass who swept the ball past David James.
The buoyant pocket of the home support, housed next to the away fans in the corner were silenced in shock, the goal was compounded minutes later as James Wilson received a straight red card for bringing down McCormack. In full flight and clear on goal, Wilson’s challenge was desperate and worthy of a red and City could have no arguments.
Suddenly, Redders’ half time talk was looking a whole lot easier. After bossing the game for most part, Kilkenny was inexplicably sacrificed as Brizzle went into defence mode but not long after half time, they went for damage limitation. Bolasie’s cynical challenge brought down Smith as he looked to break away and the referee had little choice, after a string of persistent fouls, to produce a second yellow card.
Leeds were finally in control; against ten men they had done little to make the advantage count, but against nine, Fabian Delph rediscovered the ability to pass, tackle and control, while McCormack’s movement was causing the Brizzle defence all kinds of problems. Before he finally netted a goal which counted, he had a hatrick of chances ruled out for offside. Pissed off was not the word for our Ross.
His angled finish from Snods’ dink went through James into the far corner and the away fans breathed the smallest sigh of relief. Not a complete one, the game was far from over and despite the numerical disadvantage, substitute Jon Stead was still causing Leeds problems at the back. It wasn’t until Becchio’s late finish that the palpitations subsided.
The cliche ‘match of two halves’ reigns eternal; Leeds had barely been in it for the first 45 minutes and only with some considerable assistance from the the home side – and the referee, did the side emerge with three points.
Don’t get me wrong, a win’s a win but it can only go on so long before things really start to fall apart, like they did against Birmingham.
Leeds were far from convincing against ten men, I don’t mind admitting I was very close to counting the Brizzle players before Bolasie went for an early shower; such was Leeds’ lack of leadership and direction. When Leeds did kick into gear, it was Snods and McCormack who lead from the front; Lord knows what kind of position the club would be in had they been sold last month.
So a very valuable three points, and with the snow now falling heavily across the country, one doesn’t want to think about how bad the journey back could’ve been without the win.
Such were the conditions that instead of the four hours it should’ve taken, it wasn’t until just past midnight that I crawled gratefully into bed. I’ll happily admit that I’m not the most patient of drivers but I draw the line at driving at least 2/3 of the 216 miles at under 30mph. The three inches of snow had brought the motorways to a crawl before two jack-knifed lorries blocked our ‘progress’ on the M42 for an hour.
After finally crawling on to the M1, we passed the very subtly decorated Yorkshire Radio car and mercifully, the road had been cleared. Yorkshire did it right, from north of Mansfield, it was plain sailing all the way.
The next week is such to be an interesting one, between a LUST meeting on February 9th (see here for more details: http://www.lufctrust.org/ ) and a planned protest before the Brighton game at the weekend, Leeds will be in the market for a new manager. With the odds swinging faster than a monkey on speed, one can only guess who’ll be getting one of the best and worst jobs in football management.
Personally, I think it should be Neil Warnock; I know, he’s immensely irritating and makes a point of being so, but with a proven record of getting clubs promoted and a dominant personality, he is a decent bet. Add to that he is completely unattached from any contractual obligations in terms of clubs, he surely has to be high on the list. Adam is also championing him, see why here: http://ken-demange.blogspot.com/2012/02/new-manager-why-is-has-to-be-warnock.html