Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s 2-1 defeat at Burton Albion.
United crashed to a very disappointing loss at the Pirelli Stadium, a defeat which all but deflates any lingering hopes of them reaching the Championship play-offs.
As expected coach Garry Monk recalled a fit again Ronaldo Vieira and Charlie Taylor to the starting line-up at the expense of Liam Bridcutt and Gaetano Berardi.
On a bright sunny afternoon, United appeared to settle the best of the two sides and had the ball in the net from Chris Wood after 10 minutes.
I’m still at a total loss as to why referee Darren Bond disallowed the goal as it was neither offside nor was it apparent that any infringement had occurred. However, the decision clearly appeared to affect the Whites as they then seemed to lose the initiative and the home side then began to dominate both territory and possession.
With increasingly worrying news filtering in from Huddersfield and Hillsborough it was something of a relief when half-time arrived with the scores still level.
The second period began in a similar vein to the first with United quickly out of the blocks but not particularly threatening and Mr Bond become even more fussy in his officiating. Just after the hour mark Pablo Hernandez failed to accurately connect with a Taylor cross as the Whites looked increasingly desperate to break the deadlock.
On 75 minutes, United lost yet another midfield battle and the visitors took the lead and 90 seconds later the Brewers doubled their advantage.
Credit to United, a few desperate minutes later Kyle Bartley halved the deficit, however the damage had been done and the Whites fell to their fourth defeat in their last six matches, a statistic that will ultimately cost them a ticket to the lottery of the play-offs.
I have nothing but admiration for Monk, who despite the anarchy which initially greeted him and the meagre backing he was provided in the January transfer window has guided us so close to the top six.
As I said in January, spending money doesn’t guarantee success, but spending very little almost certainly guarantees failure. Monk has without doubt got the absolute maximum out of a team that was good enough for the top six, but a squad that clearly was not. Perhaps as Mr Cellino re-writes his 2017/18 season ticket prices for the discount we will now all be due, he will reflect on such a missed opportunity. One can also only hope Monk gets offered a new contract with the additional promise of proper support in the transfer market next season. On the basis of how well he has performed, he is sure to receive several other attractive offers.
Man of the match: Garry Monk – you deserved better support from those above you.
Burton Albion put another huge dent in Leeds’ play-off aspirations as both Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday did something that Leeds have failed to do in all but one of recent games... they won!
Any game in which you don’t force the opposition goalkeeper to earn his wages says a multitude about your attacking options.
I’m not blaming Chris Wood, he’s carried this team ALL season but the others need a reality check, Kemar Roofe, Alfonso Pedraza, Hadi Sacko and frustratingly, Pablo Hernandez away from home have all failed in the majority of recent games to give the leading scorer hardly a ‘sniff’ of a goal-scoring opportunity and done little to get amongst the goals themselves.
Burton’s goals came in the second half from Marvin Sordell and Michael Kightly in a two-minute horror show from the Leeds rearguard, Kyle Bartley scored a late reply and a number of chances went begging as Leeds tried to salvage at least a draw.
It’s the lowest I’ve felt at the end of a game this season, so near, so far but so very predictable!
Mr Cellino and Mr Radrizzani you may look back to January and wonder if you could have done a little more to strengthen Garry Monk’s hand.
Man of the match: The Leeds United fans.
Another body blow to our fast fading hopes of a play-off was handed out by a plucky Burton side that looks to have secured their place in the Championship. Leeds are a huge conundrum; for almost all of the season they surprised the fans by grinding out results we hardly expected and reaching heights in the Championship we didn’t dream of. But, when it looked more difficult not to secure a play-off place, we have somehow manged to do that too.
When our A team is at their best, such as the wins against Brighton and Preston, we look very, very good. Yet when we operate below that standard we look a very ordinary unit indeed, short of ideas, low on basic ball skills and possessing very little in the way of a cutting edge.
The dream is not yet dead, but the fat lady is up on her feet and the music has started and unless we can find that A game in time to beat Norwich and Wigan AND other results go our way she will be warbling a lament on this frustrating season very soon.
Man of the match: Kyle Bartley.
Disappointments don’t come much harder than this. Seventh in the league and now only a slim hope of the play-offs.
United huffed and puffed against Burton with none of the intensity you would expect from a team scrapping for a top-six spot. The quaint surroundings of the Pirelli Stadium brought to mind an early cup game or a friendly and Leeds played like it.
This game, like Wolves a week ago, was there for the taking, as was a place in the play-offs. Now we have to hope against hope that others fluff their own chance and Garry Monk can spark Leeds back into some action.
Man of the match: Kyle Bartley.
Disappointment is a feeling that Leeds United fans should be used to after the last 15 years of watching this team but the gut wrenching that we have suffered this weekend is particularly difficult to take.
From being in a position where it seemed impossible not to make the play-offs, the defeat at Burton has left us needing a miracle to make the top six.
A total collapse in form has come at the wrong time, and coupled with a surge from Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday we will now spend the next couple of weeks hoping for a favour from someone.
All we can hope is that like the side that missed out on promotion from League One in 2009, this sparks some resolve to make sure the foundations are in place to push for an automatic place next season.
Until then, we just have to cope with the pain. Something that we are, sadly, all too used to.
Man of the match: Kyle Bartley.
Burton burst United’s tyres at the Pirelli Stadium but it’s not all over yet....it just feels like it. An unfamiliar formation, a lacklustre performance, an early disallowed ‘goal’, conceding twice late in the second half, an ineffective Hernandez and of course Fulham and Wednesday did their business. Where to now? We will have to see.
Man of the match: Ronaldo Vieira.