Leeds United 2 Barnsley 1
Although this game had absolutely zero importance in the history of Leeds United it was of mighty significance to Paul Heckingbottom’s chances of remaining in the hot seat that is Leeds United Head Coach.
The buzzards have been circling over his head for a while now with many fans perplexed as to what he’s brought to our party and confused as to why there was no new manager bounce? His poor record in his final games at Oakwell together with a record of winning just two games with us was also seen as a lack of talent in the coaching sphere.
I’ve tried to look further than the results and I’ve been prepared to tell anyone who’d listen that actually, results apart, there did seem to be a bit of an improvement in some of our play, some of the time. In some games it was admittedly brief and it has often been masked by the unending stream of injuries and suspensions that we have endured in Hecky’s reign so far which has meant defensively we’ve not looked strong in any game with a few obvious exceptions; Peacock-Farrell, Pearce and O’Connor, who are all looking like fundamental building blocks of our starting XI for next season.
It was much the same again today. For twenty minutes or so we looked fluent, Alioski was a real pain in the arse for Barnsley and it was Barnsley that were “doing a Leeds” in frequently giving the ball away cheaply and hanging onto it for far too long so that Leeds were able to press and win the ball back. Alioski did it perfectly as he hovered around while Yiadom and Potts got themselves in a tangle in the first couple of minutes but as so often, a poor touch in the box by Gjanni meant he was stretching too much to control his shot and it went wide. But Leeds continued to dominate and suddenly there was an apparition on the pitch looking for all the world like the reincarnation of Charlie Facking Taylor! Ronnie Vieira presses Potts who loosely sprays the ball towards Tom Pearce and Pearce is soon racing away with one thing in mind. He darted between two Barnsley players and then let fly from fully twenty five yards to score in the bottom corner! Lots of folk have bemoaned the fact that we couldn’t call on Charlie Taylor this season but we may just have found his worthy successor!
Unfortunately, for no apparent reason, Leeds then took their foot off the gas and we reverted to that Leeds that gives the ball away, gets caught in possession and doesn’t quite know what it’s doing in our box. Pennington and Alioski got themselves in a right old tangle to allow Fryers to skirt around them, hammer the ball across and then no doubt watch in amazement as a Swedish International centre-back hoping to be going to the World Cup didn’t seem to know whether to head or kick the cross away. He did neither and O’Connor was so confused he could only swing a leg and slice the ball past Peacock-Farrell. It was typical Leeds defending that we’ve been blighted with all season and I’m sorry, I have to say it, Pontus has often been at the centre of the problems. He had a poor game all round today and I’m no longer certain if I’d shed a tear if he leaves us.
The second half saw us restart with another one of our little good spells and a lovely move saw Kemar Roofe surprise everyone with a strong challenge on Mills and then a calm and collected run around him and along the byline where he was able to pick out Alioski at the back post; oh yes, they made the game look easy for those few moments! But then it was back to the other Leeds again and it was only the expertise and alertness of Bailey between the sticks and the fact that Barnsley were able to scoop the ball off our line and around a post from an inch off the goal-line (no mean feat!) that meant we picked up the points.
So, in essence, today was, to my way of thinking, not much different to the last few games except that Barnsley were not as clinical as the likes of Villa, Preston and Fulham to take advantage of our little bad spells. That and the fact we had Charlie Fackin Taylor’s twin in the side!
So, this win changes nothing but confirms that we do have some hope for the future with the likes of BPF, Pearce and O’Connor around. I’d want to add Pablo Hernandez to the retained list too if he’ll stop and Alioski, Roofe and Saiz if he can just give himself a shake and remember what he told us after Newport… trying to kick forty shades out of that water bottle today looked like he’d forgotten his promise! As to the rest, I’m really not sure about any of them!
Leeds Utd Barnsley
Possession 55% 45%
Shots 15 11
On Target 3 3
Corners 5 9
Fouls 8 10