YEP Jury: Resolute Leeds United show true grit on a nerve-jangling afternoon

Our fans’ panel have their say on Leeds United’s dramatic 3-2 victory over Millwall.

Monday, 1st April 2019, 6:00 am
Luke Ayling celebrates his goal against Millwall.

DAVID WATKINS

Oh my word that was a tension filled game! It was a typical roller-coaster day at Elland Road, with the lows of two poor goals given away and a penalty missed and the highs of our usual domination of possession and three well worked goals.

We were level in this game for 43 minutes, behind for another 40 and only in front for the final 7. Inevitably the 40 minutes we were in arrears were the worst for the heart, as for the majority of that time the news from Bramall Lane was that Sheffield United were either ahead or level.

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Then, just when Luke Ayling powered home a header to level things up a second time, blow me down, Scott Hogan was putting Sheffield United ahead again! But football is a funny old game and at the precise moment that Pablo slotted home the winner, down the road in Sheffield, Andreas Weimann banged in his hat-trick goal to sink the Blades!

If the last seven games are all going to be like this then I’m going to have to borrow our village defibrillator!

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

MATTHEW EVANS

Pablo Hernandez celebrates his winning goal with Jack Harrison. Picture: Tony Johnson.

It was a game that had echoes of last season’s dramatic capitulation but, thankfully, came with a much happier ending. The noise for the winner was raw emotion.

Whatever happens this season we have a team to be proud of.

We finally have a side that can cope with making mistakes, being below par on the day and playing through the amazing tension that can hang in the air inside Elland Road when the football really matters.

And it mattered on Saturday. Don’t underestimate how important it was to overtake Sheffield United again at the first attempt. We didn’t make it easy but, do we ever?

The win can be attributed, in large part, to Luke Ayling hitting form again, Tyler Roberts and Jack Harrison growing into their roles with every game and a match winning performance from the maestro, Pablo Hernandez who is dragging us towards promotion week by week.

Next up is a trip to Birmingham City next Saturday.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

KEITH INGHAM

Goodness me, can my poor old heart take another seven games of this excitement? Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Millwall sent most older fans, including me, home in search of tablets to calm their nerves.

The win, coupled with Sheffield United’s 3-2 defeat, meant Leeds leapfrogged their South Yorkshire rivals back to second place in the Championship.

There have been many ‘thrillers’ this season but maybe none as important as this game.

I remember distinctly looking at a fellow member of the press when Millwall went 2-1 up, Sheffield, I think were 2-1 up and mutually we both looked crestfallen. But, by the end we were jumping for joy.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Leeds have played better but not got the result their labours deserved but the will to win was there for all to see and the reaction was one that nearly moved me to tears such was the explosion of emotion around the stadium.

Leeds have gone behind early but should have been level not long after, Gjanni Alioski was tripped but Patrick Bamford put his penalty too near the keeper and the golden opportunity was gone.

The visitors were quick to break and on more than one occasion the ball flashed across the Leeds penalty box. It would have been a travesty if Leeds had not gone in level at the break, they didn’t thanks to a superb move that ended with Pablo Hernandez slamming the ball past David Martin.

The 34,000+ fans expected a second-half onslaught but it was the visitors that stole the second goal, Marshall was tripped in the area and the same player sent Bailey Peacock-Farrell the wrong way and scored. Lesser teams might have crumbled but Leeds aren’t one of them, Luke Ayling scored with a bullet header and the score was once again level.

Bristol City had equalised at Bramall Lane so the volume of noise rose to shake the stands and with only seven minutes left, a ball came into the six-yard box and the mercurial Spaniard Hernandez rammed it past Martin to produce whoops of delight from the Leeds faithful.

Almost at the same time, Bristol City went 3-2 up in their game meaning that if Leeds held on, second place was once again theirs.

Despite a few nervy moments in the five added minutes they hung on and the points were theirs.

I was very impressed with Tyler Roberts, Jack Harrison and Kalvin Phillips but the star of the show was Pablo Hernandez, who put in a mesmerising performance.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

MIKE GILL

Leeds United came back from behind twice and had the luxury of missing a penalty in a nerve-jangling clash.

The home fans’ hearts sank as Ben Marshall put the Lions ahead after only 10 minutes. Shortly after Patrick Bamford squandered the opportunity to equalise by sending a weak penalty at David Martin after Gjanni Alioski had been felled in the box. Pablo Hernandez levelled the scores on 34 minutes after Luke Ayling had pulled the ball back and crossed.

Millwall took the lead again early in the second half. Marshall scored from the penalty spot after being brought down by a desperate lunge from Liam Cooper. As the minutes ticked away, the Whites stuck to their game and were rewarded when Luke Ayling headed home from a Barry Douglas cross.

On 71 minutes, Tyler Roberts showed lovely control and was able to pull the ball back from the line to place it in the path of Pablo Hernandez who smashed it into the net to ramp up the noise to a level which would make a health and safety officer cringe.

It was even sweeter when we learned that we were back in second place.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

ANDY RHODES

You need nerve at this stage of the season and Leeds had it in abundance against Millwall.

In previous crucial games between the two sides, the Lions have got the better of Leeds by simply being resolute, but United are a different side these days.

The writing looked to be on the wall when Leeds went 1-0 down and missed the penalty, but Marcelo Bielsa and Liam Cooper have a instilled a never-say-die attitude that has seen them collect an impressive points haul from losing positions.

Cooper might have been fearing the worst when he gave away a second-half penalty of his own, but in Pablo Hernandez, Leeds have a player capable of changing a game on his own.

His exclusion from the EFL team of the year raised a few eyebrows across the country, and with performances like this, you would think he’d be a shoo-in for selection.

Two tricky away games come next for Leeds before they return home. It’s getting very real now.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

SHAUN SMITH

It’s stopped being football some time ago. It’s theatre now. There are plot twists and high drama but the actual football has only a cameo role to play.

Kalvin Phillips tackles and plays beyond levels expected in the Championship.

Pablo Hernandez can produce masterstrokes but all is incidental as we lurch from one nervous breakdown to the next.

There were noises of “Bristol are winning” drifting in from the wings.

There are heroes and villains. We know there must be an ending but we don’t know what it is. Some, having paid handsomely for tickets, can barely watch.

It is terrifying. It is the horror. It is the rapture.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.