Huddersfield Town 0
Leeds United 2 (Alioski 50, Hernandez 78)
I thought we’d struggle to beat the Terriers today; below strength as they were and on such a poor run of form, this was still their cup final and a Yorkshire derby to boot! Add to that the hiding they got last week at Bristol and I was sure they’d throw the kitchen sink at us and be a side inspired.
I was also conscious, when I made my prediction of a draw, that we can’t win every game… sooner or later we will stumble, not necessarily due to a failure to dominate a game, or because we are below par, but simply because at some point things will go against us; a red card, a poor penalty award or a fluke goal by the opposition from 35 yards. Thankfully none of those things occurred today and so, with Huddersfield a clearly limited if dogged (excuse the obvious pun there!) side, we came through to record our sixth win on the trot and thus completed a remarkable 100% record this season against all of the current bottom seven sides; something we would only have dreamed of in the years BB (Before Bielsa).
The outcome could have been very different mind if the home side had put away any of their several very good chances or if Kiko had not been as alert as he was on at least two occasions to make fine saves or if Luke Ayling had not got his head in the way of a goal bound shot. At times the rejigged Leeds defensive line-up, perhaps understandably, looked flaky and, on another day, we’d have been punished.
Leeds missed chances too and Patrick Bamford was again amongst the guilty, particularly with a second half header that he really should have put away, although the Town keeper also deserves credit for a good stop. If we thought the Boro game put an end to our lack of efficiency in front of goal, think again; normal service was resumed today as we squandered most of the chances we created and hit the target just 4 times from 14 attempts, not dissimilar to the stats recorded by the Terriers of 3 from 10.
The one thing the Terriers didn’t have though is the self-belief now oozing from the pores of the Leeds players; from the seasoned pros playing week in week out, to young Oli Casey who made his debut and played a faultless ten minutes looking for all the world like a Ben White clone. No wonder Bielsa has sung his praises and included him in his stated long list of those capable of playing centre-back in the Championship.
That self-belief, born out of this run of nine games unbeaten, kept us going when Town began to flag and we always looked confident of finding the breakthrough. It came first with a thunderous shot from the boot of Alioski a, from a part-cleared corner and then the stooping head of Pablo Hernandez from another perfect back post cross courtesy of the ever improving Jack Harrison.
We now face two home games which, without being greedy, we ought to be winning, albeit against sides in the top half of the table; Hull City on Tuesday and then Cardiff next Saturday. Another six points from those two games would be the perfect platform from which to go into the Christmas period when we face three of the best sides in the division; Fulham, Preston and West Brom.
But remember, good as things are at the moment, we’ve achieved nothing yet despite that sign at the Stadium today proclaiming "You're nearly there!" Indeed, this time last season we were enjoying exactly the same sort of success; riding high in the table, on a run of seven consecutive victories and believing this was the season of salvation. Instead we started off the New Year with five defeats in seven and began to fall away. This is still the beginning folks, and not even the end of the beginning.
Huddersfield T Leeds Utd
Possession 42% 58%
Shots 10 14
On Target 3 4
Corners 7 5
Fouls Committed 10 15