Middlesbrough v Leeds United: YEP jury verdict

PIC: James Hardisty
PIC: James Hardisty
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The YEP jury have their say on Leeds United’s goalless draw against Middlesbrough at the Riverside.

GARY NEWBOULD

United registered a point on Saturday lunchtime from a dour stalemate at the Riverside.

Brian McDermott made five changes from the side that went down to a solitary goal defeat against Brighton with loan ’keeper Jack Butland making his debut in place of injured Paddy Kenny and Lee Peltier replacing the injured Sam Byram at right-back. Scott Wootton returned at centre-back in place of Tom Lees whilst Cameron Stewart and Noel Hunt also started.

The omens for a goalfest were not good with the hosts not having scored for approaching nine hours, whilst at the other end Boro had kept seven clean sheets in their last ten Championship encounters.

A watching Massimo Cellino and son Edoardo saw United on the back foot in the opening ten minutes as they struggled to gain a foothold in the game as the home side dominated possession without ever seriously threatening the Whites’ goal.

After surviving the early pressure United started to get a hold on the game and Noel Hunt looked like he had a good claim for a penalty when he appeared to be hauled down by the Boro defence. Soon after Luke Murphy went close with a shot from the edge of the area before Jack Butland ensured that parity remained at half-time when he tipped a Jacob Butterfield effort over the bar.

The second half started in a similar vein to the first 45 minutes with the hosts dominating proceedings and Stephen Warnock almost put through his own goal whilst debutant Butland also saved well from an overhead effort from Danny Graham.

Just like at Brighton, United’s play lacked creativity and penetration and a lack of composure over the final ball was all too evident and far too often they resorted to hopeful long balls up to the diminutive duo of McCormack and Hunt.

McCormack in particular cut a frustrated figure as he looked to remind Boro of what they missed out on when they tried to court his signature earlier in the season. The Whites’ wide men of Kebe and Stewart also became far too detached and need to become much more involved at both ends of the pitch to justify their continued inclusion, especially away from home.

Latest loanee Butland kept United in the match in the 78th minute when he produced a fine point blank save from Albert Adomah when the former Bristol City man looked certain to score.

The game became more stretched in the final ten minutes and the introduction of big Matt Smith almost led to the breakthrough when Ross McCormack hit the post only for the referee to blow for an infringement. The hosts then almost won it at the death when Adomah wasted a fine chance.

So a rare 0-0 and United failed to inflict their first “double” over Boro since the Howard Wilkinson era, however on the evidence of this game both sides will be doing battle once again in the Championship next season.

Man of the match: Jack Butland.

KEITH INGHAM

Leeds drew 0-0 for the first time away and since the Barnsley game pre Christmas. Jack Butland had a impressive debut in the stalemate. The match started brightly but neither team could force action from the respective keepers. Kebe and Stewart were obviously told to break at every opportunity but when they found themselves in good positions they lacked the finesse to trouble the Boro’ back line.

Leeds should have had a penalty when Hunt was definitely pulled back when Stewart put a ball into the area.

After the break a mix up in the defence nearly gifted Graham a goal but his effort was blocked. After Hunt got his angles wrong from a Stewart cross Danny Graham fired over with a hour gone.

A brilliant save by Butland kept Leeds level when he saved from substitute Adomah with under 15 minutes to play.

McCormack thought he’d scored but Given turned the ball against his right-hand post. Leadbitter had a shot that flew over the bar. Adomah nearly stole the points in injury time when he fired wide inside the area.

Draws really aren’t what is needed and once again if McCormack doesn’t score neither do Leeds. A clean sheet for Leeds is the best I can offer as encouragement to the 3,000 loyal fans who travelled up to Teesside.

Man of the match: Jack Butland.

JONATHAN FORD

Well that game is best left in the history books; it was drab. I think Rudy Austin and Ross McCormack could have done more. Jack Butland had a good game and offers much more security for the defenders. Luke Murphy was everywhere in the second half.

Man of the match: Luke Murphy.

STEPHEN CLARK

A point, a clean sheet and an impressive debut for Jack Butland are the only positives that can be taken from a dire game on Saturday lunchtime.

Against a side that have gone seven games without a goal and only conceded 10 in 10 matches meant that a 0-0 draw was probably always going to be on the cards, but the manner in which Leeds performed was very disappointing.

It’s difficult to see where the club is going, and until the ownership structure is sorted out, the manager, in my eyes, is immune from any criticism that may be aimed his way. He is the one man at the club who seems to have the long-term future of Leeds United in his mind.

Man of the match: Jack Butland.

ELLIOT BRANSBY

It was a game of very poor quality at the Riverside and the watching Massimo Cellino could not have been very impressed.

Ross McCormack looked a lonely figure up front and the game had 0-0 all over it from very early on.

Man of the match: Jack Butland.

MICHAEL HEMSWORTH

With 15 games left this season, it is looking more and more likely that we will yet again fade into mid-table obscurity.

A seven-point gap to the top six is not insurmountable at this stage but if we see many more drab performances likes Saturday’s then it will not be long until we are left with nothing to play for.

We need three or four more players of the quality of Jack Butland to seriously compete for promotion and we need them quickly.

His save from Albert Adomah ensured we left with a point that we may have lost had Paddy Kenny been there in his place.

Man of the match: Jack Butland.

HUGE SUPPORT: For Leeds United.

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