The YEP Leeds United Jury reflect on the Whites’ 1-0 derby win over play-off rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
United secured a priceless victory over local rivals Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday lunchtime in front of the television cameras at Elland Road.
Head coach Garry Monk made two changes to the starting line- up from the drawn game at Portman Road with Liam Bridcutt and Souleymayne Doukara replacing Stuart Dallas and Ronaldo Vieira.
The visitors included Jordan Rhodes, historically a far too frequent “tormentor in chief”, having never previously finished on the losing side against the Whites – until Saturday that is!
A bright, breezy day welcomed the players as they entered the field to be welcomed home by the loyal hordes who numbered in excess of thirty-five thousand. As ever, television cameras or no television cameras, the United fans always turn up.
The opening exchanges were extremely tight and cagey and fully indicative of two sides entering the final stages of a marathon campaign, separated by nothing more than goal difference. Hadi Sacko had plenty of the ball early on, but as so often this season he flattered to deceive, and his final ball lacked both composure and precision. Chances remained very much at a premium before the game burst into life on twenty-four minutes when a clever ball from Gaetano Berardi found Chris Wood marginally onside in the box and the United striker showed his class and composure to score his 20th league goal of the campaign to send the home fans into raptures. Wood’s goal separated the sides as the half-time interval arrived.
The second half soon sprang into life with United’s top marksman going close again early on before Eunan O’Kane looked to be hauled down in the area but referee Michael Jones waved the penalty appeals away. The game switched to the other end and following a corner Doukara was very harshly adjudged to have fouled Sam Hutchinson and the same Mr Jones decided it was a penalty.
It appears to me that whenever United have a high-profile fixture at home then we normally get “loaned” a Premier League referee to “manage the occasion”.
So it was down to Rob Green facing up to Jordan Rhodes – Rhodes hit the penalty well enough, but the United stopper produced a marvellous save to turn the spot kick onto the post before the ball was cleared to safety with the action celebrated like another goal.
United almost doubled their lead through Kemar Roofe who was introduced in place of Sacko but the shot just went wide and both Ronaldo Vieira and Stuart Dallas, introduced in place of Eunan O’Kane and Pablo Hernandez, also made effective contributions late on to secure the win.
This was a great victory over decent opposition under significant pressure.
Let’s hope this bodes well for the remainder of the season.
Man of the match: Rob Green.
Leeds moved up to fourth in the Championship with a 1-0 over their play-off and Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
This time other results went the way of Leeds, with most of the rivals drawing and Derby County beaten at Aston Villa.
Leeds got the early breakthrough they needed when goal machine Chris Wood benefitted from hesitation by Vincent Sasso to beat Keiren Westwood with a deft shot.
The only downside at the break was Pontus Jansson picking up his 13th booking of the season, two more and the popular defender will miss three games.
Early in the second half Leeds look to have been denied a penalty after Sam Hutchinson upended Eunan O’Kane and within minutes the referee, much to the dismay of both fans and Leeds players awarded Wednesday a penalty after Souleymane Doukara was adjudged to have held back Hutchinson in the area.
Jordan Rhodes stepped forward but Rob Green stepped up and superbly saved the £10m striker’s penalty.
Without doubt this was a massive win and supporters and players celebrated this together as one. I know there are many more games and minutes to go but I felt if Leeds had lost this confidence could have been shaken, but when it mattered they stood tall.
Man of the match: Luke Ayling.
If the game earlier in the season at Hillsborough gave us a glimpse of what was to come, this game showed the grit and determination which this Leeds side possesses. It was never going to be a high scoring affair but when Rob Green saved the penalty you felt that Wood’s goal would be enough to take the points and so it was.
Man of the match: Chris Wood.
A hard-fought game between two organised sides was ultimately settled by one defensive slip and a penalty saved by Rob Green. It was hardly a game to get the pulse racing with only two shots hitting the target all day – one each – and another painfully erratic referee whose decisions seemed purely random. The tension though was immense throughout.
The Leeds defence got through the game without giving a chance although we did play with fire with some of our passing in and around our area and in fact our passing and control of the football was, as it was last week at Ipswich, not good enough. Maybe the nerves of being so close to a play-off place are now showing.
Three points was all that mattered though and if we can keep our defensive personnel on the pitch for the remainder of the season it’s hard to see how any side will get too much joy from us. The issue may come down to how we conjure up enough chances to be able to score in every game; we are blessed with so many wingers but none seems to possess the penetration we need.
Man of the match: Chris Wood.
United weren’t back at their best in Saturday’s game but who cares? It’s points that matter and the team had the wherewithal to grab a goal and see it home against one of the season’s better performers.
We, again, struggled to get a real hold on the game and a Wednesday goal looked like it might be coming on several occasions but our resolute back five stood firm yet again to make the key difference.
Sheffield Wednesday spent big in January and, with our two loan signings left on the bench, we showed continuity can be just as powerful in the argument about mid-season investment.
Three unbeaten and hopefully back on a roll.
Man of the match: Gaetano Berardi.
Leeds United’s 1-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday was a huge victory in more ways than one. In the first instance it was a win over a promotion rival, one that that Owls will remember should the two teams meet again later in the play-offs.
Secondly it was a marker laid down to the rest of the teams in the top six on the day, and only the leaders Brighton could respond, as every other side in the top six dropped points.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, it was the clearance of a psychological hurdle. Leeds generally perform poorly in big game and whilst the performance was far from vintage, the Whites dug out a result in the type of game that we have lost so often in the past.
Once again it was Chris Wood and Rob Green who were the key figures. Wood took his one chance of the afternoon with an unerring finish and worked incredibly hard all afternoon. Rob Green was not as busy as he has been in the last couple of weeks but produced a huge save when it mattered, turning Jordan Rhodes second-half penalty onto the post.
I would have taken a draw before the kick off, but honestly anything less than the win would have seen the nerves kick in. It will take an epic collapse for Leeds not to be in the play-offs now, something that does not appear to be in this team’s locker. It might not be pretty but it is effective, and as supporters that is really all we want.
Man of the match: Chris Wood.