Leeds United: Avoiding an obvious ‘banana skin’ underlines play-offs shortcomings

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The Yorkshire Evening Post fans’ jury looks back on Leeds United’s defeat at St Andrews and ahead to the New Year’s Day game with Nottingham Forest at Elland Road.

Gary Newbould

Pontus Jansson. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Pontus Jansson. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

At a freezing St Andrews, United slipped to a disappointing defeat against bottom of the table Birmingham City.

Ronaldo Vieira and Eunan O’Kane, both not considered fit after the Burton game, were replayed by Kalvin Phillips and Conor Shaughnessy whilst fit-again Samuel Saiz started from the bench. Meanwhile on his 100th appearance for the club Gaetano Berardi fittingly led United out as skipper.

The first half saw little quality football with regular stops appearing to suit the home team better than the Whites. Indeed it was a relief to all when half-time arrived and allowed all to avail themselves of a hot drink or something even stronger.

The second half saw United come more into things and the introduction of Samuel Saiz brought some hope and significant talent onto the pitch. However, United seemed to be both out-fought and out-thought in midfield throughout proceedings.

Pablo Hernandez. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Pablo Hernandez. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

United almost snatched a winner 13 minutes from time when Saiz found Hernandez who failed to beat keeper – and United fan – David Stockdale and the rebound hit the bar.

The Whites then paid the ultimate price seven minutes from time when record Blues signing Jota came off the bench and fired in a stinging shot which was only parried by Wiedwald and Maghoma slammed in the winner.

A disappointing display and defeat as well as a reminder that only a complete fool would try to predict Championship football matches.

So, Nottingham Forest at home in front of yet another 30,000 crowd and, hopefully, the start of another good run.

I’d expect quite a different starting line-up in midfield.

Man of the match: Pontus Jansson.

David Watkins

Well, that wasn’t in the script was it? The story was supposed to be about Leeds continuing to beat so-called lesser teams to gather as many points as possible to give us a head start for when we play the better teams in February.

But whenever did Leeds follow the script? As far as results go this was a blow; until now we’d always come out on top against the bottom seven sides albeit we’d often had to work hard and rely on a moment of magic to do so. Against the Blues we were short of magic and it was the hosts who stuck away one of very few chances in the game.

In truth it was similar to our recent game with Hull when we again had less ball, less attempts and far less corners than the opposition. The difference was that against Hull we got a lucky break whereas at St Andrews the Blues did.

No real damage done but it is annoying we can’t find just a bit more quality all over the pitch to see off teams with a bit more ease.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

Keith Ingham

Leeds’ run came to an end at St Andrews, the 1-0 defeat ending an unbeaten sequence stretching back to November.

Despite the defeat, Leeds ended 2017 in the top six. Thomas Christiansen was forced into two changes, Conor Shaughnessy and Kalvin Phillips replaced Eunan O’Kane and Ronaldo Vieira who both failed to shake off knocks from the previous game with Burton.

Surprisingly, Samuel Siaz only made the substitutes’ bench, and Gaetano Berardi was captain in his 100th game for the club.

Birmingham had the better of first half though it remained scoreless while both sides had chances during the second half before Maghoma forced in a rebound and Pablo Hernandez so nearly equalised. In the three games before this, Leeds scraped wins, but this time their luck ran out and City deserved the three points – just.

On New Year’s Day, Nottingham Forest visit Elland Road for the first game of 2018. A better performance will definitely be needed.

People of the match: For all of 2017 the marvellous fans of the team have travelled the length of England to support their team, they are incredible and deserve so much credit.

Mike Gill

Leeds United failed to see the banana skin and slid to a narrow defeat against bottom of the table Birmingham City.

The die was cast when neither Eunan O’Kane or Ronaldo Vieira were available for selection.

Thomas Christiansen chose the earnest but raw talent of Conor Shaughnessy and Kalvin Phillips to battle it out in midfield. Neither of them impressed. Playing against a team who have difficulty scoring goals, it was painful to watch United create so few chances.

Birmingham had the better of the possession in the first half but didn’t look like scoring. Things improved a bit in the second period especially after the introduction of Samuel Saiz. The result was looking like a goalless draw when Felix Wiedwald made a fine reaction save from Davis. Shortly afterwards the keeper could only parry a shot from Jota. It reached the feet of Maghoma who smashed it into the net.

Forest on New Year’s Day; let’s hope that the Whites can get back on track.

Man of the match: Pontus Jansson.

Matthew Evans

Last Saturday I predicted that things were going too well and United would come unstuck against Hull. As it was, I was a week out.

It’s such a Leeds United thing to do to fight our way back into the play-offs and then go to bottom of the table Birmingham and get beaten.

The worst thing about this game was that we fully deserved to lose. Too many players were off the boil and we were left to wonder how Birmingham are at the foot of the league in the first place.

Pontus Jansson was the only player to come out of it with any merit and even he made a horrific mistake late on.

United will have to be significantly better this afternoon if we are to get straight back on track and cement a place in the play-offs.

Another packed Elland Road will expect it.

Man of the match: Pontus Jansson.