Leeds United 2 Burton Albion 0
Despite the fact that Burton are new to the Championship and despite the fact Mel Sterland as good as said “Burton Who?” in his best Accrington Stanley Milk advert impression, in the Pavilion before the game, we all expected this to be a tough match; they all are of course. So we were not surprised that the visitors gave us plenty to think about.
The stats tell us the Brewers had more of the ball, forced more corners and had almost twice as many pops at goal as we did and I’m pretty sure if they continue to play like this they will not be waiting too much longer for their first away win. But despite those statistics Leeds always looked to me the more likely to snatch the points and save for the fact we once again wasted many excellent opportunities in the final third of the pitch, we might have had it sewn up much earlier. Once again Hadi Sacko was almost relentless in his plundering down the Leeds right wing but far too often nothing came of his barnstorming runs.
No matter, the first prerequisite for success in the Championship is a tight and resolute defence and once again Bartley and Jansson made their mark on the game today ably assisted in the back line by Ayling and Taylor. It looked like nothing was going to get through no matter how long they played and indeed only 2 of Burton’s 22 attempts got as far as Rob Green. That just left the need to find a hole in the Burton defence or to take advantage of a half-chance if presented. It didn’t look likely until the arrival of Sully Doukara but he is a changed man lately and how refreshing is it for Leeds to be able to throw on a plan B? Almost immediately he decisively affected the game, first by getting on the end of a thundered ball from Pablo Hernandez to not only control it but to then carry it into the area. Forced wide before he got a shot away, he still had the presence of mind to turn on a sixpence and win the inevitable penalty as he was quicker than his marker. In days gone by we’d have all feared we would then look the gift horse squarely in the mouth but this is a different Leeds United; this one now generally takes a gift if offered, especially when Chris Wood is 12 yards out; once again his spot kick was unerring.
Leeds then dealt with the expected kitchen sink as Burton tried to launch it through our window but truth be told they didn’t really dent it, never mind breach it. At the other end, Doukara was soon racing on to another through ball and although Burton’s defence did their best to halt the foraging Frenchman he was not about to be denied and he was up and after it quicker than anyone else to scuff it home. 2 - 0; game over.
Finally we are putting away teams we ought to be putting away. We have a defence worthy of the name and a midfield capable of creating chances, albeit perhaps not regularly enough as yet. We have a striker who is halfway to the mythical 20 goals a season and we have a squad that looks more “together” than any Leeds squad I can remember during this prolonged sabbatical from the Premier League. It is still too early to be talking promotion – we’ll have a better idea if that’s a possibility come Christmas when we’ll have played the likes of the Toon, Brighton, Norwich and Villa – but we do now look like a team that, on its day, can match the best. We are still a young side and we are thin on the ground so we may still stumble every now and again but we work hard, have a great spirit and we have that thing we’ve not had for years, momentum. How far can it take us I wonder?
Leeds U Burton Albion
Possession 49% 51%
Shots 12 22
On Target 5 2
Corners 5 8
Fouls 18 10