Under Neil Warnock, Leeds are beginning to overcome hurdles which Simon Grayson rarely, or never could; like winning on Tuesday nights, or winning at Huddersfield…
With two big, morale boosting wins, Leeds were on a bit of a roll. Having seen of then league-leaders Crystal Palace and promotion contenders Leicester, the only trepidation for the visit to Huddersfield was the fact that we just don’t really win at the Galpharm, I mean, the John Smiths Stadium or whatever ridiculous façade it is this week.
That Huddersfield were above Leeds in the table, that they have spent copious amounts of money more than Leeds in recent seasons and that Grayson appears to be building Leeds MKII registered as being ‘mildly interesting’ at best. On first viewing, there was little emotion towards either Grayson or Adam Clayton, although it would change towards the latter, and plenty of amusement towards the home ends boys pen.
The only change from Warnock saw El Hadji Diouf rested and Ross McCormack resorted to the starting line up and Jason Pearce reappeared on the bench, feet down, after his suspension; while Jermaine Beckford didn’t make the Huddersfield squad.
Leeds started badly and Chris Atkinson capitalised on a Leeds defence seemingly inhibited by diazepam; such was the space afforded, he had no problem touching it beyond Paddy Kenny. The home ends went what could only be described as ‘a bit mental’. Hard to tell, due to the incessant drumming, mind.
An equaliser wasn’t far off though and when Paul Green’s cross eventually made its way to McCormack, the Scots’ lay off was pounced upon by the incoming Michael Tonge. The finish was less emphatic but given Alex Smithies’ ill-advised pre-match comments, the karma fish which smacked him round the face was well deserved; how Tonge’s shot squirmed past him is anyone’s guess…
Huddersfield were rocked and Leeds capitalised; McCormack’s wonderful, curved run got him in behind the home defence and in the same place as he had tee’d up Tonge two minutes before, he afforded the same opportunity for Luciano Becchio who made no mistake. Cleanly stuck and placed perfectly beyond a despairing Smithies.
The drama didn’t end there though; as the game flew towards half time Mike Dean awarded Huddersfield the softest of ways back into the match with a foul in the box against Becchio for shirt pulling. Up stepped the ever cock-sure Clayton to dispatch the spot kick. Now Clayton didn’t register either way in terms of being loved or hated at Leeds, not for the masses. He did a decent job but never pulled up trees and the teenies liked his tweets but we can be fully confident we are rid of a rather bitter man, and better for it. His run and celebration on his knees in front of Warnock may not have irked him in the slightest but it told us everything we ever needed to know.
The second half was a different story though. While Huddersfield had the possession and movement in the first, Leeds took the mantel and the game to the home side.
With 70minutes gone, sub Ryan Hall fired the ball in from the left side which was expertly teed up by Norris who volleyed in from close range and Hall was again involved as he centred a cross for Becchio to brilliantly head home from range.
The result means Leeds have picked up nine points from nine and rise in the table to a heady tenth. Promotion is a long way off but with the takeover complete and the funds forthcoming, there is room to sit a little more comfortably.
The form of Paul Green continues to excite and with McCormack back to his best already, we must build on our current winning run. Green was simply excellent today, seemingly every where at once; one moment covering for the ever-absent Lee Peltier at left back and another, making a block on the left wing. All whilst putting in a commanding display and partnership with the ever impressive Sam Byram at right back.
McCormack too contributed to all Leeds’ forward movement, making incisive runs and intelligent lay offs and simply having his pace as an outlet is something Leeds have missed. It mattered little, in the end that Thomas was exhausted and largely anonymous today but given a rest, he’ll be back on form.
The only concern for Warnock must be the continued performances of Peltier who is simply out of his depth in a team which seems to be making strides forward one step ahead of him; he cannot keep up. Surely Adam Drury deserves a run of matches, for at least he is a natural left back.
The signs are there but in this league, nothing is certain.
On on on.