Leeds United 2 (Bamford 16 pen, Alioski 68)
Bolton Wanderers 1 (Beevers 22)
I am in a genuine dilemma once again this evening! We all know that the most important thing we needed from this game was three points, as it was with the Swansea game ten days ago. And, just like against the Swans, we’ve got those vital points in the bag! So, what’s the issue?
Well, I should be deliriously happy shouldn’t I? But I’m not (and it’s not just because I haven’t opened the malt yet!); I’m happy but not quite satisfied! You see the problem is, squeaking through 2 – 1 against the second worst side in the Championship is not actually filling me full of confidence that we can continue to win enough games to get that ultimate prize of automatic promotion.
The match stats are becoming very similar game in, game out for Leeds and again today we bossed the possession, attempts, shots on target and corners to much the same degree as we did against the Swans with the same result and, indeed, if you looked back at our stats from virtually every game this season they would be, give or take, very similar. And, sitting third in the table tonight we know that with more than two thirds of the season done that has been enough for us in most games to get the points. And yet, still there is that nagging doubt.
The doubt comes partly from the fact that our chief rivals – Blades, West Brom and Norwich, seem to be, usually, putting away poor teams far more clinically and efficiently than we are able to do and that in turn just leaves that bit of doubt that when we come up against the likes of the Albion and Blades again… they will be better than us as Norwich proved to be recently. Only last week the Canaries blasted Bolton out of the water 4 – 0 at their place while Sheffield United thrashed Reading 4 – 0. We have only scored three goals in a game 5 times this season and four just once for example and our goal difference that was once the best in class a few weeks ago now trails 4th behind the other 3 members of the top four club.
I guess the real annoyance is that we all know, absolutely know, that at our very best we are unplayable – as we saw regularly at the start of the season and not that long ago against Derby again – and we know that had we been at our very best against Swansea and Bolton we would surely have walloped them both. We are patently not firing on all cylinders, although quite why I’m not sure anyone really knows. A settled team might help; yet again today we were developing a new front 4, with Tyler Roberts now playing the important Enganche role with Roofey now seemingly out for some weeks to come. Maybe if we could keep this group together for a few games the fluency will return and the doubts will disappear as that goal difference opens up again. Who knows?
Bielsa has spoken for months now about our lack of clinical finishing and he mentioned it again this evening but I have to say we didn’t really pass up many chances today – it was more that we were only creating ‘half chances’ rather than clear cut openings we ought to score from. The rub of the green was important today though to get us over that line with a referee for once knowing what a penalty is and a goalkeeper who maybe should have done better with Alioski’s cross…. Surely it was a cross wasn’t it?
So, let’s rejoice in the three points and I will open that Penderyn in a moment, but let’s not kid ourselves that playing like we did today will always see us come out on top. We need to turn that dominance of the game into dominance in the results and, for the sake of all our hearts; we need to win games more comfortably. Let’s start down at Loftus Road on Tuesday against what is currently the worst team in the Championship; seven defeats on the trot have seen the Rs slither down the table. Please God don’t let it be against us that they halt that sequence!
Leeds Utd Bolton Wndrs
Possession 69% 31%
Shots 21 12
On Target 8 6
Corners 8 4
Fouls 10 14