Barnsley 0 Leeds United 2
This was a game that many of us feared could spell the end of our season should we fail to at least put in a decent performance. In the event those fears proved unfounded and for 70 minutes Leeds dominated much as we did against teams of a similar quality early in the season. Like several of those games we also grabbed an early goal to settle the nerves and by the close of the first half we held a very comfortable 2 – 0 lead. There appeared few weaknesses and everyone was playing their part. The goals were well taken efforts by our increasingly dangerous duo of Saiz and Alioski.
In fact the only blots on the copybook in that first half were the two very early yellow cards picked up by Pontus Jansson and Luke Ayling that were enough to just keep us on edge wondering if they might lead to yet another red card and a difficult second half. Thankfully they didn’t and even the precautionary substitution of Eunan O’Kane by the impressive Conor Shaughnessy on the hour didn’t seem to affect our superiority and control. Conor looks to me to be a very classy proposition in midfield, his preferred position, and he has that “Paul Madeley” calmness about him and everything he does.
But the edge was taken off our performance for me by the way we appeared to give up that control of the game in the final twenty minutes. As we’ve seen a few times before this season the Leeds passing became sloppy and the ball was given away too cheaply and that in turn was just enough incentive to cause the Tykes to redouble their efforts to inflict some damage. It was a reminder that against a better team we will have to be more careful and we’ll need to play at the same intensity for the full 90 minutes. Fortunately, this Barnsley side doesn’t come into the category of a better team and their passing and finishing was so poor to mean they couldn’t take advantage of the gifts we were offering. Aston Villa on Friday may well be a different proposition.
For now though we have steadied the ship and our six points from nine this week is probably more than most of us would have predicted. Caleb Ekuban worked his socks off up front today and that effort alone suggests to me he must continue to play. I’m still not convinced that Wiedwald is a better option than Lonergan in goal and he was worked so little today that we didn’t really have an opportunity to see what he has learned in his recent sabbatical; I winced on a couple of occasions when he elected to punch balls I thought my granny could have caught but I’m willing to give him the second chance that Thomas Christiansen says he’s earned. The rest of the side will look very similar on Friday I’d wager although if injuries meant we needed to turn to Conor Shaughnessy I for one would not be worried at all. Bring on the Villa and let’s see what we can do against a top side now we have a bit of momentum behind us.
Barnsley Leeds U
Possession 53% 47%
Shots 14 19
On Target 3 4
Corners 5 12
Fouls 11 10