Leeds United 1 (Sollbauer 28og)
Goodness me that was stressful! That second half was far and away the worst half of football we have seen from Leeds this season! How much of that is down to a tremendous effort and strategy from Barnsley and how much was down to us feeling the pressure we’ll probably never know and hopefully we won’t need to bother to research it.
The first half wasn’t great but at least we were doing some of what we normally do – dominating the possession of the ball at least. We did little with it mind, although we did get round behind the Tykes back line often enough to feel it was a matter of time before they broke. They did of course in the 28th minute when our old friend “Own Goal” came up trumps again to go level with Matty Klich on seven for the season and only behind Pablo (8) and Patrick Bamford (16) in our scoring charts.
Barnsley have some peculiar stats for a team at the bottom of the table – one of the best teams for amassing goal attempts and yet the worst for converting them… a team after our own hearts really! And so it proved to be their Achilles Heel again today as they had almost double the attempts we had and yet only three hit the target. Some of their shooting actually reminded me of us at our worst! What they did do though was press us and harry us better than any other side we’ve come up against for a long, long time. If they could only hit the target they’d be safe in mid table.
Leeds looked more and more out of sorts the longer the game went on and the constant rearranging of personnel due to injury and Bilesa’s efforts to counter the Tykes’ enthusiasm probably didn’t help. Even the introduction of Pablo Hernandez at half time for once didn’t unlock our latent talent. By the end of the game I was just grateful we escaped with the three points and now only a really unfavourable series of results can prevent us realising Norman’s and our dream of Premier League football in our lifetime.
We will all (apart from Bielsa apparently) be watching intently tomorrow evening as West Brom face Huddersfield and we’ll be hoping the Terriers can put in a similarly dogged performance to the Tykes. If that fails then we get a second chance as Brentford know they have to get three points from their visit to Stoke on Saturday. Playing last of the three has finally brought some reward in terms of heaping pressure back on both of them. It would be perfect karma if one of them slipped up to allow us to enjoy the sight of Derby providing a guard of honour for us, as we walk past them and on into the Premier League while knowing they face yet another season in this damned Championship that is so hard to escape.
We may of course still need to get a point from Derby if the others don’t falter and, if we do, we know we’ll have to play a lot better than we did today. It feels so close but one more push might be needed.
Leeds Utd Barnsley
Possession 55% 45%
Shots 7 12
On Target 3 3
Corners 7 7
Fouls Committed 9 15