Leeds United Jury: Whites pass a very different kind of test with colours still flying

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The Yorkshire Evening Post’s panel of jurors give their verdict on Leeds United’s 0-0 draw with Championship rivals Middlesbrough at Elland Road last Friday.

Have a read and see if you agree with their judgement:

Man of the match, Bailey Peacock-Farrell. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Man of the match, Bailey Peacock-Farrell. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

David Watkins

A draw – a fair result – was always on the cards for the top-of-the-table clash with Boro and so it proved to be.

Leeds looked as strong and robust as their counterparts from the North East but without that guile that Pablo Hernandez brings we just didn’t find that killer ball or moment of magic that might have tipped the game in our favour. An erratic referee didn’t help by stopping play for the slightest touch outside the areas whilst allowing something akin to sumo wrestling to go on inside them.

This was a big test for Leeds, different to those we’d come through so far and we passed it with colours still flying.

Man in the middle, Tim Robinson. PIC: Tim Goode/PA Wire

Man in the middle, Tim Robinson. PIC: Tim Goode/PA Wire

It is hard not to look back at this point last season when we had an identical league record and again sat top of the pile but when the trip to Millwall arrived, on exactly the same weekend in September, we were found out and never really recovered the momentum we’d built in the first month.

The next test is to show we are now stronger than that this time around.

Man of the match for me was BPF for an all-round confident performance that is becoming the standard for the young keeper.

Man of the match: Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

Man-of-the-match contender, Gaetano Berardi. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Man-of-the-match contender, Gaetano Berardi. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Matthew Evans

Friday night was all about just one man, Tim Robinson the referee.

The stench of inconsistency could be smelt all around Elland Road he awarded fouls and cards regularly and arbitrarily. It made for a fragmented game with flashes of excellent play interrupted on a regular basis by the referee’s whistle.

Because of that, United never really got into their full swing but that’s not to say it was a bad performance. On the whole we were well organised and could have won the game but for the army behind the ball.

Marcelo Bielsa and his players will need to find a way through this tactic if we are to seriously threaten promotion but everything we’ve seen so far tells us that we can and will overcome that.

Our man of the match was a close-run thing between Gaetano Berardi and Bailey Peacock-Farrell where the keeper just edges it for a well-earned shut-out. This was a man who couldn’t buy a clean sheet earlier in 2018 but is growing more into the part of Leeds United’s long-term number one.

And that’s one of many positives we are seeing on a weekly basis around Elland Road these days.

Man of the match: Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

Shaun Smith

Boro are promotion probables and will achieve success by the scarcity of goals conceded whereas Leeds United will prosper by goals scored if Friday’s and previous encounters so far this season are anything to go by.

Whilst physical, the Teessiders are finesse itself compared to Elland Road League Cup visitors and victors Preston North End, who had caused the Whites to doubt themselves earlier in the week.

So, a resilient performance from the table toppers and, in truth, winning games like these don’t necessarily bring promotion but not losing them goes a long way towards achieving that goal.

To keep a clean sheet against an aerial threat like Boro’s with a rookie goalkeeper, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, and a ‘centre’ in Gaetano Berardi rather than a centre-back, is a phenomenon born of genius.

We missed Pablo Hernandez. Of course we did. He is Pablo Hernandez but we are undefeated. We are unbowed. We are Leeds. We truly are.

Man of the match: Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

Keith Ingham

Leeds and Middlesborough battled for the honour to go into the international break holding top spot in the Championship; in the end neither team could force a winner and it ended scoreless.

Despite the score line this was an enthralling encounter, with both teams having chances to claim the three points.

Marcelo Bielsa’s preference of Liam Cooper instead of Pontus Jansson surprised a few in the 35,000-plus crowd. Pablo Hernandez’s omission due to an injury he picked up at Norwich was to prove telling in a game that just needed one piece of ‘magic’.

Most-scored-versus-least-conceded was always going to be a tight affair and so it proved. But Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s save from Howson was as important as Clayton’s goal-line intervention as Cooper’s header looked like it was going in.

What is certain is this Leeds team is a very different ‘beast’ to the one that whimpered into the end of last season. Man of the match Gaetano Berardi typifies the spirit of this team.

Snarling around the opposition, he made sure that another clean sheet was earned. The ovation he received after an injury curtailed his evening was richly deserved.

If you’d have said that in the first six games Leeds would have beaten relegated Stoke City, Derby County and Norwich City away and drawn away at another relegated team, Swansea, and a got a deserved point from a team that has spent heavily and were play-off semi-finalists last season, I’d have snapped your hand off!

Top of the Championship and Millwall up next after the international break. Can’t wait for it to start again!

A word about the atmosphere: when the game kicked off the noise was incredible and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up many times when Marching on Together was struck up by the fans. Superb support.

Man of the match: Gaetano Berardi.

Mike Gill

Middlesbrough were greeted by a noisy but nervous home crowd at Elland Road last Friday evening.

And the mood was not improved by the news that Pablo Hernandez was unfit for selection.

But he was replaced by Jack Harrison who looks better every time he plays.

The other big decision selection wise was to replace Pontus Janssen with the returning Liam Cooper – totally vindicated as our captain put in a fine performance.

His central partner, Gaetano Berardi, also weighed in with a typical swashbuckling game which only ended when he took a hard knock near the end.

This was not only a game of contrasting styles but also a game of two defences.

In the end, honours were even and, in some ways, another hurdle was jumped by Leeds United who showed that they can defend with the best of them.

You can’t help thinking that had Pablo Hernandez been available then the Whites could have squeezed in with a winner.

Man of the match: Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

Andy Rhodes

Friday was arguably Leeds’ biggest test yet, and although they won’t want to admit it, I’m sure Middlesbrough’s fans will be saying the same of their challenge.

There will have been a few hearts in mouths pre-match when it was announced that Pablo Hernandez wouldn’t be involved, and it was clear that Leeds missed his creativity.

Arguably the one thing the Whites missed was that player capable of unlocking the door of the meanest defence in the league. Yet having said, that Jack Harrison looked lively and always posed a danger to Boro’s George Friend.

However, the biggest positive to be taken from the game was in defence with Leeds keeping out experienced strikers and defensive giants. Bailey Peacock-Farrell did well to deny Daniel Ayala who repeated his antics from last season, but Leeds were never going to bite this time around.

In the end it was a war of attrition between two sides who look well matched in the Championship this season. The battle will re-commence in February.

Man of the match: Baily Peacock-Farrell.