Leeds Utd 2 (Bamford 40, Harrison 78)
Brighton 2 (MacAllister 33, Harrison 61 og)
11th March 2023, Premier League.
That is another tricky one to analyse! I guess the general feeling is that we probably got away with one there; we didn’t play very well overall but a point against a side pushing for a Champions League place can’t be sniffed at – even though those Bournemouth and Everton results have taken away what little shine there may have been at full time! The stats too suggest the game was actually closer than I certainly felt while watching it – Brighton had loads of time with the ball – 62% of it- but huge tranches of that time was spent with it stationery with their centre backs!
The bad stuff first. As solid as we’ve tended to be defensively since we were able to pick and stick with Ayling, Koch, Wober, and Firpo along the backline, we do still look frail in certain aspects. The other day at Chelsea it was our old friend the corner, today it was another old chestnut… Luke Ayling getting outjumped and beaten in the air at the back post! It wasn’t the only thing wrong with our defending for their opening goal – Firpo and Roca were dissected too easily with a simple through ball and then we failed to stop the cross coming in. But as soon as it did and I saw Ayling there at that back post, I just knew he’d be beaten. The fact that MacAllister was then able to nod home from Mitoma’s header unchallenged didn’t look good either. From beginning to end it was a catalogue of poor judgement, positioning, and defending.
Their second goal didn’t exactly fall into the worldy category either, did it? MacAllister is, we know, a world-class player, but he was allowed to scuff his way through tackles from Summerville and Tyler Adams before evading Robin Koch and putting Mitoma behind our backline courtesy of more poor work from Luke Ayling. Once Mitoma was behind us the rest was hard to stop. Wober stuck a boot out from the wrong side to knock the ball towards our goal, saved by the boot of Meslier but only to find Solly March at the other post. Jack Harrison did his best to remedy an impossible situation but could only wallop the ball into the net. There were a few poor passes out of defensive positions from us throughout the afternoon too that the top teams would have punished more severely.
There were other clear chances for the visitors too – MacAllister should have scored in the first half when he scooped a cutback hopelessly wide and then Danny Welbeck wormed his way through us in the second half but also spooned his shot over. Thankfully Brighton only hit the target with two of their 14 efforts, although both went in of course. So, not great defensively by Leeds.
At the other end though we have to acknowledge that we scored with two great shots. OK, there may have been a bit of luck with Paddy’s right footer, we’ll never know where it would have ended if it hadn’t taken a deflection but, hopefully, Paddy has reminded himself that the more he shoots, with any foot he has available, the luckier he will get. He’s looked a bit shot-shy since he returned. No luck involved with Jack Harrison’s shot though, the only question for him is: “Why does he do that so rarely and why is he so wasteful at times when he’s clearly got a great finish in both feet?” Accrington will testify to what he can do with his left!
We had a couple of other close things too; Paddy B should really have done better when he got behind the Brighton backline only to fire into the side netting rather than pull the shot across the keeper and then Brenden Aaronson did well to scuff the ball at goal through a crowd of legs. Steele only just kept that out at full stretch.
So, at the end of the day, you could argue maybe and I could be persuaded that we did more than get away with one, maybe a draw was a fair result. I’m undecided at the moment and the sight of us languishing in the bottom three again tonight doesn’t help my thinking.
It does look as though we suddenly have more options too – the sight of Bamford starting again, Rodrigo and Sinisterra getting minutes and Pascal Struijk back on the bench gives encouragement that we can change things up if we need to and, if those shots from Paddy and Jack are the result of training ground practice then, let’s have more of that, please. Surely Georginio has more to offer us too at some point or there will be questions over his valuation.
I have to confess that I still feel we’ve left it all too late and that, actually, the arrival of Javi hasn’t really changed enough so I’m pretty much already resigned to us being relegated. But I live in hope. I am certain it is going to be a close run thing and still believe any three of the current bottom nine are possible candidates for the drop – Palace and Wolves are both only 4 points above us at the top of that little league at the bottom. We need to step up from what we saw today of course but if we could then all is not lost. That trip to Wolves on Saturday is now massive… but so will every one of the final 12 games.
Leeds Utd Brighton
Possession 38% 62%
Shots 12 14
On Target 4 2
Corners 4 7
Fouls 12 9