Thursday, 16 September 2010

Leeds vs Swansea and the season so far

Elland Road Leeds

Less than 24 hours into our visit to Yorkshire and we were inside Elland Road to watch Leeds United take on Swansea City on the 11th September 2010. After making our way to the ground and 1 chicken balti pie later, it was up into the stand to sample the atmosphere. Slotted into the (sadly) traditionally cramped seats for someone of my height, we got ourselves comfortable to watch the game and the noise picked up.

The game got under way and Leeds were fine going forward most of the time but were pretty dodgy at the back especially when we were hit by a quick break. We got frustrated when we gave the ball away in great positions repeatedly and that indecision seemed to be reflected throughout the team when the ball came back at us. Clearing the lines was replaced by passing the ball back to Swansea. As far as Swansea go they were pretty decent, they didn't just hoof it and played some nice football at times, though maybe a little too reliant on counter attacking for their chances. Who can blame them though, it often works and it got them in front with a break away goal that came after a slip in the defence.

The 1st half went by quite quickly and it was then the queue for the toilets I should really have remembered to avoid given my years having a season ticket in the family stand. Finally escaping the toilets, it was time for the 2nd half and though not going all our way at first, the 2nd half eventually got better from a Leeds perspective after around 60 minutes. Max Gradel had looked a bit rusty but when it worked for him it paid dividends for the team and from his cross and a shot which came in we ended up getting back into the game. The momentum built up by the goal was further aided by the substitution of Watt, for as good as we know he can be (he was having one of those days) when Sam came on the side looked a bit more rounded. Throughout the game it was mainly Bradley Johnson and Luciano Becchio doing most of the grafting and their hard work paid dividends as they both ended up on the score sheet, the one goal mentioned already scored by Bradley Johnson. Deservedly so as Johnson was our main goal threat the whole game and before the goals in the 2nd half he had almost ended the first half on a fine note with a great run and shot which hit the crossbar. At 1-1 Leeds were the side on top and the pressure paid off with a barrage of shots being finished in the end by Becchio tapping in for a much deserved 2nd.

As always with only a goal in it, it got a bit nervy towards the end, not helped at all by following the Irish league via a mobile phone and hearing Glenavon had brought the score at Seaview to 5-4 and the Crues were also holding onto a 1 goal advantage... thankfully for us though it all ended well as both took the 3 points.

Though early days, QPR are the pace setters this season after their great start. Leeds have shown promise, especially since there has been no big spending (that we know of) but I don't anticipate Leeds being automatic promotion contenders or keeping up with the sides who might run away with the league. I reckon the top half of mid table will be a good finish with the playoffs our main hope. The team is competitive and the crowd will always be enough for an extra point here and there but we still aren't quite there yet defensively. Maybe that will change if the newly signed Faye can fill the defensive midfield roll I think we've been missing and if and when the injury list clears up a bit.

Since the primary goal this season is to not be relegated, so far so good. My expectations for the season are being surpassed even at this early stage and with the odd couple of bad results. I'm really hoping though that if the team can cut out some of the sloppy mistakes in terms of not clearing their lines and failing to complete simple passes in defence and across the midfield where we keep being punished then we might really have a chance to make the playoffs this season. Its not the end of the world if we don't but the team we have has the ability, its just whether they can make it happen.

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