Leeds United 3 (Hernandez 34, 83, Ayling 71)
Millwall 2 (Thompson 10, Marshall 55 pen)
Hellfire this team of ours puts us through the wringer! That was another roller-coaster of a game – almost on a par with the same fixture last season! Then of course the Bermondsey Boys snatched a last gasp victory after we’d battled back against all the odds to overturn a 2 goal deficit and a sending off to lead 3 – 2 with 3 minutes to go! That non-Bielsa Leeds caved in and lost 3 – 4!
This game was similar; Leeds were behind for almost half the match and led for only 7 minutes, but this Bielsa Leeds had the nous to find a way to snatch the, oh so vital, three points and those seven minutes were the final ones. And, in one of those uncanny football coincidences that I do so love, our main rivals for automatic promotion, Sheffield United, were going through an almost identical game against Bristol City! Leeds fell behind to a soft goal in the 10th minute – Ben Thompson managing to lose both Cooper and Jansson in the middle of our box to head easily past the Flying Peacock. That was a bad moment and we were thinking the worst. But then, 8 minutes later, salvation was handed to us as Alioski was bundled over in what looked a pretty soft penalty. Pablo handed the ball to Bamford but, incredibly, our lacking in confidence striker tried the old “Bing Crosby”, straight down the middle effort and the keeper blocked it away with his knees. More desperation, and more dark thoughts. Thankfully Pablo decided to take matters into his own hands and he levelled smartly on 34 minutes after a lovely flowing Leeds move ended with a perfect Ayling cut-back. That was better, but down the road the Blades were a goal to the good.
Ten minutes into the second half and a promising Leeds attack was screwed up, the ball lost, and in the blink of an eye Millwall had the ball in our box and a swinging leg from Liam Cooper caught the ankle of Ben Marshall. Penalty! Bugger! Marshall himself took their kick and despatched it with ease, no doubt making Paddy Bamford feel even worse than we felt in the stands.
But Marcelo Bielsa has a touch of the Midas about him and much as we all worried that sending on Douglas for Alioski and Clarke for Jansson wasn’t going to turn this game around we shouldn’t have worried. In any case the changes were probably dictated by Jansson’s dodgy knee and a clattering Alioski took in the opening minutes. In the 71st minute good work by Roberts and Harrison on the left byline was completed with a fine dinked cross by Douglas and a powerful, well placed, header by Luke Ayling. We were level but, would you Adam and Eve it, in Sheffield the Blades had just taken the lead again! The mood was better, but still not great!
Thankfully, Hernandez popped up with just 7 minutes to go to steer home the winner for Leeds and incredibly at exactly the same moment Andreas Weimann was completing a hat-trick at Bramall Lane to snatch all three points for the Robins. It’s a funny old game you know and the turnaround in the fortunes of Leeds and the Blades that many had predicted might occur today did come to pass!
So, how to assess this one? Well first thing to say is that there was a marked similarity in the match stats to those from our 0 – 1 defeat to the Blades a fortnight ago. Similar possession and a similar number of goal attempts. The big glaring difference though was that this week we hit the target with 8 of those attempts whereas two weeks ago we didn’t hit the target even once! I presume we have been on the shooting range during the break!
Other than that we did once again almost give this game away with those two poor goals conceded and missing our own penalty. We cannot afford to be so slack in these next crucial seven games. We face Birmingham next – a team that will be hurting having been thrust into a relegation battle through a points deduction and coming off the back of a run of five consecutive defeats. The last time we met a team on such a run was QPR and we know how that ended! Blues have the in-form Che Adams up front with Lukas Jutkiewicz and we cannot afford to offer them even a sniff. I can recommend malt whisky as the best way to prepare for these next seven games….oh, and know where your nearest defibrillator is too!
Leeds Utd Millwall
Possession 69% 31%
Shots 18 7
On Target 8 3
Corners 7 2
Fouls 14 11