Leeds United: Saints will offer stern opposition

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Neil Warnock’s first game in charge of Leeds United ended in a disappointing goalless draw at Fratton Park as the side were unable to find the decisive breakthrough.

The clean sheet at Portsmouth will have been some consolation for Warnock, but he knows his side must be more clinical at the other end with Southampton in town tomorrow.

The Saints hammered Watford 3-0 at the weekend and Rickie Lambert returned to scoring ways with a well-taken hat-trick. That was the Saints’ fifth game on the trot without an away defeat, so United will need an excellent performance across the park if they’re to grab all three points. Leeds’ last outing at Elland Road produced an inspired fightback from 2-0 down to Doncaster, but the league leaders will unlikely make the same mistakes.

Leeds were well beaten at St Mary’s and the 3-1 loss was the second in a row against tomorrow’s opponents. United did run out 1-0 winners on the Saints’ last visit to Yorkshire, though, so a tight game is expected.

Two defeats in three home games means that it’s advisable to leave the win index market alone as the sides look set to cancel each other out.

Interests

United were far more solid at Fratton Park and I expect Warnock to keep things tight against Saints’ potent strike force. The last league meeting between the clubs produced just one goal, so my advice would be to sell (bet lower) total goals at 2.4 with Sporting Index. The Saints have also found goals harder to come by when on their travels – Nigel Adkins’ side have averaged 1.3 goals in their past six away league contests.

We are now less than two weeks away from the start of the Cheltenham Festival and all the key trials have taken place.

There have been some disappointing injuries in the past week and it’s a shame we’re not going to see the likes of Grandouet, Minsk and possibly Fingal Bay. Let’s just hope the remaining contenders all stay injury free and they all get there safely.

Nicky Henderson has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal this year and all eyes will be on the likes of Sprinter Sacre, Simonsig and Long Run.

However, one who interests me greatly in the Centenary Novices’ Chase on the first day is Triolo D’Alene. The five-year-old was an impressive winner at Ascot on his British debut in January and he has been put away for this to protect his mark.

I’m sure he still has plenty in hand and he looks a decent each-way bet at 7/1 with Boylesports.

Chris Wood.

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