Newcastle United 1 Leeds United 1
The dream is still alive! This was not the best performance we have seen from Leeds this season by a long chalk but that may well have been the biggest moment of the season so far when Woody popped up to silence 50,000 Geordies! It was definitely the most celebrated! I will long remember winding our way down those 14 staircases singing “Ronaldo Vieira, he’s only a teenager, he never gives the ball away.. One, Two, Three, Four” Magic!
Apart from a lightning start when Alfonso Pedraza smashed a shot against the bar, Leeds were largely on the back foot against a top quality Newcastle side that is clearly already as good as promoted. Leeds didn’t help themselves by once again giving up the ball too cheaply on far too many occasions, something we’ve seen a few times too often this season and when we did get the ball wide we also found, as we already know, that the quality we have on the flanks is very limited. But we defended as we have done all season, heroically and with a passion, and none more heroically or passionately than the big Swede, Pontus Jansson, who threw himself in front of everything Newcastle launched at us. He picked up another booking which is now a worry as one more would see us lose the big man at what may be a crucial time in the last few games of the regular season or worse, the play-offs. As we know we are as limited with centre back cover as we are with quality on the wings.
Rob Green also deserves a mention for another top quality display with at least one stunning point blank stop while opportunities to shine elsewhere on the pitch were limited by a lack of ball. Hernandez and Roofe tried hard enough but without ever reaching the lofty heights they showed us against Preston last week.
Newcastle outshot Leeds by 22 to just 4 but due largely to that heroic back division only 4 of the Toon’s efforts hit the target while Newcastle had an astonishing 19 corners compared with, well, none at all for Leeds! It was that one sided but Newcastle were second best in one important department; belief! Oh and one more; support!
When Lascelles put the home side ahead I doubt many Leeds fans thought we’d get the point, I certainly didn’t and I was just happy that we’d be leaving with our heads held high after a narrow defeat. But the players clearly had the belief that there might just be one chance. That it fell to Chris Wood was something we are all grateful for. The big man has not had much to feed on for the last few games but when this one fell to him he buried it. 25 for the season is a magnificent effort and this one may well prove to be the biggest of the lot.
The atmosphere was already fantastic even as we contemplated a narrow defeat but when Wood scored the Leeds end erupted in a celebration the likes of which will be hard to replicate even if we get the chance to do it at Wembley next month. That goal may just prove to be the key to securing a play-off place and who knows what our destiny might be after that.
We need to follow this up with a win against Wolves but following that dogged performance at St James’ the players’ confidence ought to be sky high. With most of the teams around us winning yesterday it was vital we got something from the Toon and it is becoming more and more clear that the race for a play-off spot is a five horse race. The odds must be on at least one of the five dropping points on Monday and three points for us at Elland Road will go a long way to securing one of those gold plated play-off slots. Bring it on… I think we are ready!
Newcastle Leeds U
Possession 56% 44%
Shots 22 4
On Target 4 2
Corners 19 0
Fouls 7 10