Leeds United 1 (Klich 45+1)
Another cup-final, another one-nil win and another step closer to the Holy Grail. This one was a bit scrappy to be honest and nowhere near as overwhelming as the previous narrow wins over Bristol City and Reading but, as everyone well knows, it’s the result that is all important.
Middlesbrough restricted Leeds to less than 60% of the ball last night – and that doesn’t happen very often – but it was more a case of Leeds handing the ball back too cheaply too often and several times the Boro broke away quickly to worry our back line. Thankfully their abilities in front of goal were as shocking as ours!
It is uncanny how our last three games have all panned out so similarly though – as always we created a couple of gilt edge chances that we then proceeded to miss, but the one goal, when it came bore all sorts of aspects of the winners at Elland Road last week. A shot from Pablo cannoned back off the right hand post back to Luke Ayling via a high miskick by a defender. He shovelled it inside to Klich who played a sharp one-two with Pablo and then his shot looked as if it would come back off the left hand post! It didn’t though, this time it was good enough to go in off the woodwork and that ultimately proved good enough for all the points.
Boro managed more attempts than we had – another rare occurrence – but their shooting was a level below even ours! Just 2 hit the target while for Leeds we managed to get 8 of our 12 attempts in broadly the right area. Two chances fell to the hapless Patrick Bamford again last night and once again he looks like a man with absolutely no confidence whatsoever. His first chance, a header from close range could probably be just about excused but his second when all he had to do was touch the ball home from a yard out with no keeper between him and the line looks appalling every time I see it. Somehow he scuffed the ball off one leg onto the other and the chance was gone. That goal would have given us all a very pleasant final few minutes to warm us up on a bitterly cold night; as it was we had to make do with another round of head-shaking and nail-biting.
If there was a worry about this performance it was the shoddy passing that was evident throughout and, on another day the Marcus Tavernier shot that curled onto our crossbar would have gone in and got them a point they would not have deserved. Maybe our luck is in this year, but it is hard not to rue those missed chances again and continue to dwell on the fact that such carelessness could yet be very costly as we battle through these final eleven games. For now though, we can be happy to go into that final straight with that 5 point gap intact.
Middlesbrough Leeds Utd
Possession 43% 57%
Shots 14 12
On Target 2 8
Corners 3 6
Fouls Committed 14 11