YEP Jury verdicts: Supreme display against Derby leaves the fans buzzing

Chris Wood celebrates with Pablo Hernandez after scoring Leeds United's winning goal against Derby.

Chris Wood celebrates with Pablo Hernandez after scoring Leeds United's winning goal against Derby.

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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s 1-0 victory over Derby County.

MIKE GILL

How is it possible to slaughter a team 1-0? I don’t know, but this is exactly what Leeds did to Derby.

Apart from a 15-minute spell between the end of the first half and the beginning of the second, United’s domination was almost complete.

We shouldn’t delude ourselves, Derby are a very good team but Leeds are better. To say that Leeds should have scored more goals is fair enough, but they were facing one of the Championship’s in-form teams. Derby are also a team with an array of big name, expensive players.

The pressure to which Derby were subjected was relentless. From the moment that they appeared in their sickly pale green away strip to the final whistle, Derby were on the back foot.

Despite the usual professional press conference, it was no surprise to anyone that Liam Cooper had not recovered in time. Therefore the team which faced Steve McClaren’s men had a makeshift defence and no Hadi Sacko either.

Although this was a supreme team effort, this game was won in midfield. Liam Bridcutt and Ronaldo Vieira broke up everything that Derby had to throw at them, Souleymane Doukara was back to his normal muscular form and Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe were at their creative best. If Kyle Bartley hadn’t missed so many close chances from set pieces, would Chris Wood have been allowed to finally score? Who cares! On 45 minutes, Derby finally cracked as Wood’s superb header gave Leeds the lead.

The wall of noise from the Elland Road faithful did the rest. On a freezing cold night, it was great to see the scarves twirling and the ‘WACCOE’ chants ringing around the ground. 
Garry Monk’s team have brought pride back to LS11 and while another goal was by no means certain, three points was!

All football managers have a collection of clichés which they trot out with boring regularity but when you hear Garry Monk says that all he is concentrating on is the next three point opportunity, then you believe him. I’m sure that all his players believe him too and this was demonstrated when the team had to step up to the plate with an unfamiliar line-up. Everybody knows their job and they all play for each other.

Man of the match: Liam Bridcutt.

KEITH INGHAM

We’ve seen false dawns before at this club, but this team seems like the ‘real deal’.

The 1-0 ‘battering’ of Derby County sent Leeds to the heady heights of third place in the Championship, eight points now separate them and the team in seventh.

The play-offs may be the least this talented group are hoping to achieve, but nothing is beyond them if they continue to produce performances like they did against Derby.

I’ve not witnessed a more complete first half performance by my team in a long while and the only thing that was missing was a few goals. After Kyle Bartley had forced a save from Scott Carson, he then missed a ‘sitter’ when the ball found him at the far post. He need not have worried, 16-goal striker Chris Wood increased his tally to 17 in the last minute of the half from an inswinging corner by the excellent Pablo Hernandez.

Robert Green kept Leeds ahead with a stunning save from Tom Ince and Green’s blushes were saved by a blatant handball by Darren Bent charging down the goalkeeper’s kick-out. With ‘We are the Champions, Champions of Europe’ sung like I’ve not heard for a while, Leeds wrestled control of the game and were unlucky not to extend their lead. A superb evening at the Theatre of Everlasting Hope.

Man of the match: All the team and substitutes.

DAVID WATKINS

Wow! We have to believe now! In my humble opinion this was the result that categorically tells us this squad can achieve promotion. In the run up to the game we knew we were up against one of the top teams in the Championship, a team packed full of names and a team on a decent run (a recent 3-0 blip at Norwich excepted); we also knew we were going into it without the talismanic Pontus Jansson and his back-up centre-back, Liam Cooper.

It mattered not; this was the most dominant display any of us have seen from Leeds in many a long year. We have seen spells of such dominance already this season but not for a whole game. This was almost the perfect display – a sloppy clearance from Rob Green that on another day would have hit a nose or a chin and not a hand before going in our net and a few wayward shots of our own being the only negatives. Luke Ayling was Pontus in disguise while the rest of the team were immense. It’s on folks, it is definitely on!

Man of the match: Luke Ayling.

MATTHEW EVANS

This was a magnificent performance that had Leeds fans buzzing during and long after the game.

It’s hard to pick out one single player in what was a true team performance. The unfamiliar back four, packed with right-backs, was rarely troubled as United fought from the front in a perfectly organised and effective pressing game.

Roofe, Wood, Doukara and Bridcutt were are all worthy of mention but it was Pablo Hernandez who really pulled the strings on the night and he only misses out on man of the match thanks to Ronaldo Vieira who put in a performance that a player many years his senior would be thrilled with. These are rare times.

Man of the match: Ronaldo Vieira.

STEPHEN CLARK

Friday night saw the return of the Leeds United that I fell in love with back in the 89/90 promotion season as the Whites produced a display which rolled back the years of despair and gave the fans genuine hope of a return to the top tier of English football.

Displaying passion, commitment and a level of skill so far above the cross of recent years, they were backed by a crowd showing the same traits of passion which for so long have been missing from Elland Road.

Too often in recent times, games under the floodlights at home have been chores. This was a joy from start to finish and even though the score was only 1-0, the margin of victory seemed far greater.

Whilst not wishing to get too excited, this Leeds team are making that difficult. From back to front they were a cut above a Derby side that were being lauded as promotion contenders before kick off. On the evidence of Friday, they were no competition.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

GARY NEWBOULD

There was a time when...never mind beat Derby we couldn’t even get a draw against them. Friday night, straight and simple was payback time as a Leeds United team deprived of several first choice players simply ran the visitors ragged for 90 minutes. Men against boys or sheep dogs against Rams, take your pick!

Chris Wood got the winner just on half-time, but the hardest part of the evening was picking the man of the match as there were so many contenders in white. If people weren’t taking this team seriously they are now.

Man of the match: Ronaldo Vieira.

Thomas Christiansen

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