Leeds United 2 Watford 3: YEP Jury give their verdicts

Luke Murphy.
Luke Murphy.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leds United’s 3-2 defeat to Watford.

MATTHEW EVANS

This game felt like a throwback to the early part of the season when a Leeds goal was mostly by luck and defensive lapses were frequent and always at just the wrong time.

Two-nil up following a Watford error and a sublime effort from Rodolph Austin, a thought flashed through my mind that, for the first time in years, I was enjoying watching Leeds United defend.

Literally a second later, Watford waltzed through that very same defence with ease and pulled a goal back to set up an almost inevitable United collapse. This was nearly a reverse of the same fixture last season but with all the points heading south.

The crucial period was early in the second half when Austin missed the chance to grab a brace and, one-on-one with the Watford keeper, fired straight at him. Moments later, a ball drilled across the goal mouth was just missed by opening scorer Billy Sharp.

From there on in, the pressure applied by United was laboured and futile while Watford were able to slice through the Leeds defence with easy, long and searching balls – most often in the direction of Troy Deeney – that Sol Bamba and Liam Cooper seemed incapable of dealing with. Watford’s winner started with a promising Leeds break that broke down when Alex Mowatt casually passed the ball to a yellow shirt.

For the previously solid Bamba and Cooper to have such an off day means Watford should take some of the credit for exploiting the pair’s weaknesses.

The defensive masterclass at Middlesbrough was more or less forgotten but with the defence shipping five in two games since then there will be calls for Giuseppe Bellusci to reclaim his place. If the win at Middlesbrough was all about fitness and professionalism then United have shown a lack of both in the subsequent two games.

In and around the poor defending and toothless attack there were some good performances, especially in the midfield. Lewis Cook and Luke Murphy looked lively again and Sam Byram’s return was particularly welcome but it’s Rodolph Austin with his non-stop running and wonder goal that takes man of the match. His withdrawal sounded the death knell for United’s chances.

Man of the match: Rodolph Austin.

KEITH INGHAM

another defensive ‘horror’ show gave Watford a well deserved 3-2 win after being two goals down.

The start Leeds so desperately wanted came on seven minutes when Billy Sharp capitalised on a weak back header from Anya to score at the far post. Watford hit back and went close before Rudy Austin volleyed in to send the fans into raptures.

But even at 2-0 down Watford were still in the game and halved the deficit by the interval.

Within minutes of the restart, Leeds should have extended the lead when Austin broke clear but his effort was blocked by Gomes. Sharp also had a chance as did Luke Murphy but it was Watford who drew level.

The defence, so assured recently, looked nervous and unorganised and with a counter-attack gave Watford a unexpected lead.

Although Leeds used Adyran, Antenucci and Cani as substitutes, the visitors held on and claimed the three points.

To lose from such a strong position is so annoying with the defence largely culpable.

Neil Redfearn must decide whether to recall Bellusci for the visit of Ipswich Town. It’s a game Leeds need something from; fortunes can change so quickly in football. Leeds’ last three games prove that.

Man of the match: Rodolph Austin.

STEPHEN CLARK

I wasn’t too disappointed as I left Elland Road on Saturday afternoon, as Leeds had done more than enough against Watford to show that they are heading in the right direction.

Leeds did 90 per cent of things right, and had they taken the chances they created they would have been out of sight before the Hornets mounted their comeback.

It was the pace and power of Watford that undid Leeds, but, as fans, sometimes we have to realise we don’t have the God given right to win every game and just hold our hands up and admit we were beaten by a very good side.

We are safe from relegation and are not going up. It’s time to allow the side to develop a pattern of play for next season.

Man of the match: Luke Murphy.

GARY NEWBOULD

United slipped to an agonising defeat against promotion-chasing Watford after taking a two-goal lead courtesy of Billy Sharp and a goal-of-the-season contender from Rodolph Austin.

Deeney reduced the arrears just before half-time for the visitors, however United wasted three great chances in the opening minutes of second half to restore their two-goal advantage. The Whites were then left to rue these missed opportunities as Vydra drew the visitors level just before the hour mark and the same man again produced the sting in the tail from The Hornets.

Man of the match: Sam Byram.

JAMES HARRISON

It was a really disappointing result on Saturday. To go two goals up at home and lose the game shouldn’t happen at any standard of football.

We got off to a great start scoring two goals in the opening 20 minutes. Billy Sharp scored a typical poacher’s goal after a poor defensive error before Rudy Austin scored a wonder goal.

Watford had too much pace and our defence couldn’t handle it. For all three goals we got outpaced but they could have still been prevented. Bamba didn’t react quickly enough for the third goal; he should have cleared it into the stands.

We are still 10 points clear of the relegation zone so it’s looking like a mid-table finish.

Man of the match: Luke Murphy.

JONATHAN FORD

Simply not good enough to go 2-0 up in this division and not see the game through and win three points. After the wonder strike from Austin it just became awful and they counter attacked to great effect. We need to bounce back on Wednesday!

Man of the match: Rodolph Austin.

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