Leeds United 2 Aston Villa 0

I have been urging caution over the growing belief that Leeds are actually strong enough this season to mount a promotion challenge. But I went to the Villa game knowing that any sort of a positive result would mean I just could not any longer claim we hadn’t yet proved ourselves. Villa came into the game on an 8 match unbeaten run since the arrival of Steve Bruce and that run had already convinced most commentators on the game that Villa will be up there come next May. The way that Leeds dealt with the threats they posed and then the way we patiently went about conjuring up our own threat proves beyond doubt that, other things being equal, Leeds will also be “up there” come the end of the season. The fact that Leeds could put such an accomplished performance together against a good side like Villa without the likes of Bridcutt, Hernandez and Eunan O’Kane, all of who would arguably have played had they been fit, also makes a statement that we can continue to get better even that we saw on Saturday. We are genuine contender in this Championship season.

That is not to say we were streets ahead of Villa; as so often is the case, there was little between too well organised sides. But, Leeds did what any successful side has to do to regularly accumulate points in this league; stay tight at the back, be patient, and then find a moment of magic. Without Hernandez in the side you would think our ability to come up with that magic moment is limited but on Saturday it was Doukara who stepped up to the plate. Kalvin Phillips did the graft in winning the ball and feeding the Douk and then Suley provided a cross every bit as tantilising and accurate as Liverpool came up with at Anfield the other night. Kemar Roofe read exactly where the ball was heading and he ghosted in perfectly to head home at the near post, getting in ahead of the Villa keeper Gollini. It was a class goal from what is becoming a class outfit. Inevitably Villa then had to chase game and Leeds are now a side that is tailor made for such situations. If we can get one, the odds will always be on us grabbing another from a break-away and so it was again this time. A Villa attack broke down, the ball was sent long for Sacko to chase and he did enough to strike the ball at goal. Gollini got something on it but not enough and though the ball stopped short of the line, Chris Wood was doing his job following up and he swept it home.

Garry Monk acknowledged that it was by no means a perfect performance and as he keeps saying, there is much more to come from this young side, but it was as efficient a performance as you are likely to see this season from any side. That momentum keeps building and challenge after challenge keeps being pushed aside. Another one is waiting down at the Amex for us on Friday. But you know what, we go there for the first time ever looking able and likely to come back with the points. We haven’t yet won at the Amex…but we hadn’t won at the New York Stadium either!

Game Statistics:

                     Leeds Utd          Aston Villa

Possession          55%                      45%

Shots                     10                         10

On Target               4                           3

Corners                   4                           5

Fouls                       15                          9