Fulham 1 Leeds United 1
When Fulham came to Elland Road in August, Leeds were in disarray – a new team under a new manager and short of a few pieces that would eventually turn up to complete our now mostly polished jigsaw. In that game Leeds grabbed an unlikely injury time equaliser courtesy of Chris Wood after ex-Leeds man “He’s too small to play for Leeds United” Tom Cairney scored another goal against us as he always does.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose as they say in Beeston. Last night Leeds were gifted an early lead and then by hook or by crook somehow hung on to it for almost 90 minutes before it was our turn to succumb to a late injury time equaliser albeit once again a goal provided by that bloke who was too small to play for Leeds. It was no more than Fulham probably deserved from the game and pretty much confirmed that old football adage that luck evens itself out over a season one way or another.
The match statistics though were uncannily similar to those from the Birmingham game last Friday – overwhelming possession and boatloads of shots from the home side together with a thousand corner kicks – yet the score was so different. The difference was that whereas last Friday we were either clinical or lucky with our finishing, last night we were neither. Had Pedraza found the corner of the net and not the post and had Barrow not been as indecisive as Sacko often is we could easily have come away from Fulham with the same 3 - 1 score line that we handed to the Blues. That’s football I suppose.
What is clear is that we are still not learning how to hang on to the ball. Our defence these days is one of the best in the Championship, certainly the most committed to the cause, but if we insist on giving up possession after just a couple of passes and so inviting the opposition to pummel us non-stop throughout a game, then, as the bloke next to me foretold many times last night; “They’re gonna get one eventually”.
The result itself did us no harm, automatic promotion is a boat long since departed the way Brighton and Newcastle are set up in my humble opinion so it is just a matter of ensuring we hold on to our play-off spot and that in turn means keeping Fulham at arm’s length as they appear to be the only side outside the current top six that can spoil anyone’s party. Let’s see how they get on at St James Park on Saturday. For Leeds, another cup final awaits us at home to Ian Holloway’s QPR. You’d guess that Wood and Ayling will slot straight back in and I’d expect a rested Pablo Hernandez to be back to his magical best and for that should see us edge that one. It is still not clear to me who we should be playing on the wing opposite the hard grafting and in my view essential Stuart Dallas. Pick any one from Sacko, Barrow, Pedraza, Doukara and Roofe but It doesn’t seem to make an awful lot of difference. Come on Leeds, we can do this!
Fulham Leeds United Possession 73% 27%
Shots 23 7
On Target 5 2
Corners 14 4
Fouls 6 10