Leeds Utd 4 (Rodrigo 3, Greenwood 60, Cooper 68, Summerville 84)
B'mouth 3(Tavernier 7, Billing 19, Solanke 48)
5th November 2022, Premier League.
“I feel like we never have simple victories” sighed Jesse Marsch after the game today. Welcome to Leeds Jesse, it’s been going on for donkeys’ years mate!
If there is a hard way to do something, Leeds will find it; it’s our specialist subject, as is shooting ourselves in the feet at every opportunity. As we did last Saturday at Anfield, we took full advantage of an early gift from the opposition as Rodrigo remained calm to slot home a 3rd-minute penalty with Summerville brought down after only 51 seconds of the game. What more could we possibly ask for?
Well, if I can have just one thing for Christmas this year, I’d rather quite like the Leeds defence to start to perform like one. For the rest of the first half and three minutes of the second, we were a defensive shambles again and, let’s be frank, if we don’t sort out this frailty at the back then it could yet prove to be the most significant reason for our relegation if it comes to that. At least we have unearthed some goal scorers at last.
Pretty much as we did again at Anfield, we then proceeded to hand back the gift and the initiative to the opposition with some dire marking in our own box. Once again, all our defenders were caught ball-watching, drawn to the ball like those moths to a flame and so even the fact that Robin Koch got his head to the cross, it meant nothing since Tavernier was totally ignored at the back post and had all the time in the world to steady himself to volley past Meslier, much as Mo Salah did in Liverpool.
That was bad enough, but within another 12 minutes, we were at it again. This time it was our old Achilles heel, the long ball down the middle, again, we saw it almost undo us several times at Anfield. This time Tavernier outpaced and out-thought Kristensen and it was only thanks to Illan Meslier that the first shot was rebuffed. But we were all then ball-watching again as Tavernier collected the rebound and played a lovely ball to the edge of the area to where Billing was running and Marc Roca wasn’t! OK, let’s be fair to Billing, it was some finish. 1 – 2 down with only 20 minutes gone and I was already thinking the worst. We were not playing very well and all the positivity we brought down from Liverpool had gone up in smoke quicker than the evening’s fireworks that we periodically saw over Elland Road.
Boos at halftime and I really could have done with more booze to be honest; We were poor. To then go 1 – 3 down within three minutes of the restart, well, I’d mentally thrown in the towel – although the lad next to me in the Gents after the game was adamant that even then he still thought we’d get back in the game! I want some of what he’d been drinking if that was true!
We’d already brought on Willy Gnonto at the break, he replaced Jack Harrison who, yet again it has to be said was disappointing… why we persist with having him and Brenden over every set piece is still beyond me! What is it achieving? Whatever Jack is having a poor spell of form for some reason and I’m guessing he might only be saved by the absence of Luis Sinisterra. 1 – 3 down and on comes Sam Greenwood in the 54th minute and from that moment, incredibly, the young guns of Sam, Cry and Willy (there must be an anagram in there somewhere!) wrestled the game and the Anfield momentum back in our direction.
The comeback commenced with fine work from Rasmus in the right-wing slot, atoning for his earlier tardiness, with a lovely left foot cross that found Summerville – funnily enough in loads of space at the back post in front of the Kop… maybe it’s a sort of Bermuda Triangle thing down there! Cry always seems to instinctively know what the best ball is and he put it on a plate for Pascal to thunder at goal. That one struck a defender but rebounded onto the left foot of Sam Greenwood and his curling strike was perfection itself. We know he can do this… but on the rare occasions he’s tried this season it hasn’t come off for him. 2 – 3 and hope rekindled and the Elland Road roar was back as we scented an unlikely recovery!
It took just eight minutes to complete the recovery and finally, and finally, we found someone to put over a decent corner… and without that ridiculous ploy of having two men stood over the ball! Sam Greenwood whipped the ball over, this time with his right foot, and Coops did the rest to score a rare Leeds goal from a corner. You start to wonder if it’s worth having Sam in there just for the set pieces!
Even I believed now, things were going for us and no doubt the only thing in the minds of the Cherries was that two-goal lead they let slip last week against Spurs. So, who could provide the moment of magic we could now do with to get the extra two vital points? Look no further than the dynamic duo of Cry and Willy - good mates off the pitch already apparently and the younger 18-year-old Willy Gnonto, said to be a really good influence over the party-loving, laid-back 21-year-old Crysencio, so Jesse was telling us this week. Willy collected the ball deep in our half, ran 50 yards, and then slid in a perfectly weighted pass through the Cherries back line for the ever-alert Crysencio to run onto. Laid back he may be, but he is unerring in the opposition box and, yet again, he poked the ball wide of the keeper.
Cue another Anfield moment! We wait months for a joyous celebration and then, like those London busses, along come two together!
So, once again, we cannot let this victory cloud some undeniable problems we have with this side, but as long as the spirit is there, and as long as we have these young guns to show us the way then all is not lost. The table looks very satisfying tonight and we can go to the Tottenham Stadium next weekend knowing that even a defeat down there will still have us looking OK while we enjoy (?) the World Cup break. We have given ourselves some breathing space and a bit of a platform. BUT we need to sort out the defence and then we need to start putting these lesser sides to the sword. Oh, and if we get an early lead, for goodness sake look after it lads!
Possession 61% 39%
Shots 18 9
On Target 4 6
Corners 13 3
Fouls 16 10