Leeds United 1 Brentford 0
With Leeds making four changes from the side that withstood Derby in midweek it has to be a sign of progress that such a changed team could then deal with Brentford so efficiently. The fact that Leeds fans were as good as told that Hernandez and Roofe were fit to play after their midweek knocks also suggests Heckingbottom and his back room staff are pretty cute in the way they are able to conceal team selection issues from the opposition until the last minute when they didn’t appear on the 18 man squad list! Similarly the fact that few were aware that Adam Forshaw would be missing the game to assist with the arrival of a little Forshaw was also clever concealment. Finally, the fact that De Bock was left out altogether after his horror show at Pride Park suggests there will be no carrying of players; as soon as they show a dip of form it looks like Hecky will remove them from the fray PDQ.
So, it was another chance for Vurnon Anita to impress in an otherwise unchanged defence while O’Kane was perhaps fortunate to get his place back so quick in midfield. It was no surprise that Samu Saiz got his first start since his ban as did Gianni Alioski. In many ways it was a return to the bulk of the side that saw us so successful at the start of the season with the addition of Pierre-Michel Lasogga of course. Whether Felix Wiedwald was lucky to escape the axe because of the stiff neck Lonergan was suffering is open to speculation but certainly the magnificent save he pulled off in the first half yesterday will have helped his cause no end. Not so the shot he punched out tamely in the second half.
So, we can I think already give some praise to Hecky and his crew for achieving some improvement although it is so difficult to isolate the effect Samu Saiz has had in these latest couple of games. My guess is we have missed him way more than even his biggest fans would have forecast. The key point is though that many of us were struggling to see where our next points were coming from as we faced consecutive games against Bristol. Derby and Brentford but now we are through them and we’ve collected 5 points!
Let’s not get carried away yet awhile, Brentford dominated the possession against us much as Derby did and had more attempts just as the Rams did, but we held firm most of the time and restricted both sides to mostly long range efforts. Long may that continue. Work still to be done on the defence and Boro will be another stern test on Friday but definite progress. There is no point even thinking we can still make the play-offs, we just have to take each game as it comes now and Hecky has to continue to try out players and formations. If we make top six then miracles do happen but it’s more likely now to be about getting ready for a flying start to next season.
Leeds United Brentford
Possession 38% 62%
Shots 9 13
On Target 4 3
Corners 5 9
Fouls 12 12