Leeds United: YEP Jury verdicts on Wigan and the trip to Derby

Sam Byram.
Sam Byram.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Wigan and tomorrow’s clash at Derby County

KEITH INGHAM

2014 is nearly over and most Leeds United fans, myself included, will be glad to see the back of a disappointing time at the club.

Prolonged takeovers, court cases and some shockingly bad performances have seen the club drop once again into the relegation ‘mire’ after a less-than-average performance in the 2-0 home defeat to Wigan. This Christmas I was given a mirror that had the club successes in the sixties and seventies engraved on it. Those days seem a lifetime away and I wonder if they’ll ever return. It’s not easy being ‘Leeds’ at the moment.

Neil Redfearn made two changes to the team to face Wigan, he opted for a central defensive partnership of Giuseppe Bellusci and Liam Cooper with Jason Pearce dropping to the bench. He also brought in experienced midfielder Michael Tonge at the expense of Adyran, who was rested and moved Lewis Cook into a more advanced midfield role. Rudy Austin took his place on a attack-looking bench, with Morison, Doukara and Montenegro as options.

Leeds started brightly but it was the visitors that took an early lead, McClean’s run down the wing was finished expertly by home defender Liam Cooper, who for some reason only known to him, chested the ball past Marco Silvestri. I cannot remember a more bizarre own goal for years. It shook Leeds and they responded with captain Stephen Warnock hitting a shot over the bar.

It could have been worse for the home side but McCann missed a chance as Wigan nearly doubled their lead. Leeds’ best chance was expertly engineered by Mirco Antenucci his cross found Billy Sharp whose header flew past Scott Carson but hit the bar and rebounded to Cooper who’s effort flew over the bar. The Leeds defender was hurt in the attempt and needed treatment.

Wigan went into the break with 1-0 lead. In a attempt to get back on terms, Neil Redfearn made two changes at the start of the second half, Austin and Morison replacing the subdued Mowatt and Bianchi. Wigan were again first to get an attempt on goal, Kiernan wide with his effort. Antenucci, after a great run, fizzed his effort past a post. Billy Sharp showed displeasure at being substituted by angrily kicking a water bottle and heading down the tunnel. We’ve seen a few do that and not return.

Tonge was denied by a last-ditch tackle by a Wigan defender and, as Leeds sought an equaliser, Morison brought the best out of Carson and Byram inexplicably hit a corner over the bar when it seemed easier to score.

As Leeds threw caution to the wind, Wigan broke and the ball fell invitingly to McClean. The 2-0 win was Malky Mackay’s first as Wigan’s manager.

Leeds travel to Derby County tomorrow for another televised game. The players will have to improve greatly to get anything out of it. Leeds are in a battle to stay in the Championship already. Happy new year to you all.

STEPHEN CLARK

The festive cheer was in short supply at Elland Road on Boxing Day afternoon as Leeds United plunged headlong into the relegation battle by losing 2-0 to Wigan Athletic.

A bright start to both halves offered hope to the long-suffering Leeds support, but another collection of defensive howlers gifted the visitors all three points.

With a trip to Derby tomorrow, Leeds need to regroup and realise that they are in big trouble at the foot of the table. Although the squad is large in comparison to recent years, the players are all much of a muchness, and there is no real opportunity to change shape or approach.

I expect nothing from the trip to Pride Park, but one would hope to see the side go down fighting. Wigan have proved that the sides below us are up for the battle ahead. Leeds need to show the same heart and desire to avoid the drop.

MATTHEW EVANS

A typical Leeds United performace: what could have been a routine win turned into a routine defeat in front of a bumper Boxing Day crowd.

Having gifted Wigan their first goal, Liam Cooper wasn’t allowed to forget it by the home fans and struggled to recover. Some spells of Leeds dominance were negated by poor finishing and Wigan were allowed to wrap it up in the final 10 minutes with a good team goal. Billy Sharp, who produced more than the three strikers left on the field at the final whistle, reacted petulantly to his substitution. Once the second goal went in, Leeds were like a pack of cards at the back and attacking became even more futile. A re-think is urgently needed somewhere.

GARY NEWBOULD

United slipped to a second successive home defeat against Wigan. Individual errors and careless defending presented the visitors with their first win in almost two months. A defensive new year resolution is most definitely required for the trip to third-placed Derby if more points are to be added to another meagre festive total.

JAMES HARRISON

Another disappointing day at Elland Road. We can’t afford to lose our home games against teams in a similar position to us.

We started the game well but Liam Cooper’s own goal killed us. We never got going after that.

We created lots of chances in the second half but we weren’t clinical and it was just one of those days.

I can’t see us getting anything at Derby so we could be in the relegation zone come the new year. The one good thing about the game was Sam Byram’s performance. He looked like his old self with some of his touches and dribbling.

We are now in the relegation dogfight!

JONATHAN FORD

Well a poor result and some disappointing parts to the game. We are struggling and getting dragged into a battle we shouldn’t be getting ourselves in, but that is where we deserve to be. It seems as though Derby at home is a distant memory and now we have them away. As always, I’m predicting a Leeds win, despite my worries!

Chris Wood at the final whistle against Fulham. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Leeds United rebuff a second bid for striker Wood