Leeds United star's playground moment, Andrea Radrizzani saved from angst and off-camera moments

Leeds United climbed out of the relegation zone, just, with a result against Brighton that might well be enough to save Premier League status.

By Graham Smyth
Monday, 16th May 2022, 12:14 pm

Elland Road was a cauldron of noise and nerves during the 1-1 draw and the explosion of joy and relief as Pascal Struijk headed in his first ever senior home goal was one of the too-few feel-good moments of this season.

Here's the YEP take.

Good day

Joe Gelhardt

A moment of pure brilliance from the 20-year-old, right when it was needed. The skill he showed to escape the clutches of defenders was matched by his composure and presence of mind, finding the right ball to the back post. It was playground football, played without fear, in front of 36,000 with Leeds' top flight status on the line. Pure magic. This season has given him a number of truly memorable moments and the sight of Pascal Struijk heading in his cross was right up there. It was huge for Leeds, too.

Pascal Struijk

The big defender hasn't been as good this season as he was last season - playing in a struggling team will be a contributing factor - but like Gelhardt he won't forget the moment he headed home. A player of his size and strength should be scoring goals, which is something Leeds need to work on for next season with far better set-piece delivery.

PLAYGROUND STUFF - Joe Gelhardt's late bit of magic helped rescue a point for Leeds United that could be crucial for their Premier League status. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Graham Potter

He went away content with a point and was very honest and fair in his assessment of the game. It's hard not to be impressed with the Brighton boss and they've had a fine season.

Bad day

Rodrigo

An awful first half and a second half that quite clearly left him entirely spent of energy. He stayed on to the finish despite being out on his feet. Ironic cheers at the sight of him completing a simple pass must have hurt every bit as much as his legs did. A second tough season in succession at Leeds. It just hasn't worked out, yet.

Andrea Radrizzani

The majority owner had his boardroom partners with him in the directors box and none of them will have failed to hear the second half chants against their regime. Only once this season has any part of Elland Road turned on the decision makers - against Villa at home - but the discontent was widespread and the message clear during the Brighton game. Struijk's goal undoubtedly saved Radrizzani and co from serious angst that was headed their way had Leeds lost 1-0. This will be a nervy week and while it's unlikely you'll hear Radrizzani or the board being serenaded in the way they might like, results could at least allow them to breathe a sigh of relief at the end of a tough season.

Number of the day

17

Leeds United sit above the drop zone with a week of the season remaining. The point asks a question of Burnley that the Lancashire side must answer if they're to dig themselves out of trouble now. It's a big ask, too. Everyone is under pressure down there but no one wants to be the side beneath the dotted line, not this close to the finish.

Turning point

Half-time

Leeds were different after the break, better by a long way. They got on the ball, moved it more effectively and with pace to get at Brighton and finally create chances and momentum. It was a far cry from the fare served up in the first half.

Off-camera moments

Whatever Leeds' first team security man Martin Sykes said to Joe Gelhardt in the tunnel prior to warm-up needs to become part of the matchday routine. The pair were seen having a chat before Gelhardt went out to provide late heroics.

Immediately prior to kick-off Gelhardt and his team-mates also had the privilege of being wished well on their way by some true legends of Elland Road. Players from the successful teams of '72 and '92 were introduced to the crowd, receiving a fitting reception, before heading down the tunnel to shake hands with the current crop.

With Brighton a goal ahead and frustration rife inside the ground, Kalvin Phillips came to the touchline during a break in play and took a drink before his emotions boiled over and he smashed his water bottle off the turf in disgust. After the game, with the scoreline 1-1 and Leeds still in the relegation fight, Phillips lingered to take it all in on the lap of honour. No one knows what the future holds for the midfielder, who embraced his mum Lindsay on the touchline after saluting fans for their support. Injured players Luke Ayling, Patrick Bamford and Tyler Roberts were also seen after full-time, as was Stuart Dallas and even former player Pablo Hernandez. Those men never got the proper Elland Road celebration their 2019/20 heroics deserved, which will forever be a grand shame.