Luton Town 1 (Collins 54)
Leeds United 2 (Bamford 51,Pearson 90 og)
Leeds United have now played and beaten five of the current bottom eight sides in the Championship and we face the other three in the games upcoming over the next 14 days. We start with Reading on Tuesday.
Luton looked, on the face of it, to be the poorest of them all but, as we know all too well from previous seasons, Leeds are usually at their most annoying and frustrating when playing these so called lesser sides and such opposition always raise their game when they face Leeds. When Izzy Brown lit up Kenilworth Road with a fine run and cross that James Collins powered in at the back post to equalise a fine opener from Patrick Bamford, it felt very much as if this game would follow that old familiar pattern.
But it didn’t; these days Leeds are made of much more determined stuff and, as we saw several times last season, under Marcelo Bielsa we appear to play believing anything is possible right up until the final whistle. I’m not sure the fans believed it would happen mind, especially when only a liner’s flag ruled out a second Luton goal, with their players now the believers and their crowd suddenly awakened from their slumbers I’d have settled for the single point, although knowing that would not be good enough for a team with hopes of automatic promotion. Thankfully, a 90th minute own goal, forced by the presence at the near post of Patrick Bamford, saved the day and kept up that 100% record against the bottom sides in the table.
Why was this game so difficult? Numerous reasons really. The old failings in front of goal have still not gone away and several weak shots or misdirected efforts wasted good opportunities, while we can only applaud Luton keeper James Shea for at least three world class saves too. Izzy Brown also highlighted that other failing we seem unable to shake off – an inability to deal with decent cross balls into our own area. Izzy produced a superb cross, it has to be said, and he showed us just what might have been had he not spent so much of last season on our treatment table instead of the Elland Road pitch. But the way Collins lost Luke Ayling at the back post only served to remind us of the Blackburn header before the international break; Luke was beaten to that ball then too. Add to all that our inability to make anything at all from numerous set pieces and corners – another feature of the Leeds make up that is yet to see much improvement by Marcelo and his team – and it all meant we were probably lucky to sneak all three points no matter how much our domination of the game probably deserved it.
Once again an opposition manager, Graeme Jones of Luton this time, praised Leeds as the best he’s seen this season, something we’ve heard from almost every opposition boss this year. His comments after the game sum up where we are currently at. He said:
"These (Leeds) are the best team in the league, I've analysed them enough to say that. I see them cutting through teams and I mean at will, and they had more shots than us, they had possession, but we were always in the game…”
It is that final comment that could yet prove to be the most telling as we battle to get out of this damned Championship; we have to find a way to turn our regular domination of games into more comfortable victories and that means hitting the target more often, using the significant number of set pieces we accumulate to our advantage and sorting out this weakness in the air at the back. That should be the homework when we hit the classroom on Monday! But first, let’s just savour our never say die attitude and another crucial three points.
Luton Town Leeds Utd
Possession 25% 75%
Shots 10 19
On Target 5 11
Corners 3 8
Fouls Committed 7 9