Leeds United 0 Newcastle United 2
Ah bugger! I’m trying not to be too downhearted after the defeat at the hands of the Toon; after all, before the game we knew they were the best by far in the Championship, they were on a run of seven consecutive wins, they have a huge budget and a top manager and loads of Premier League experience. Many of us said before the game that this was a bit of a “free hit” for us; a win would be fabulous and really show we were a force to be reckoned with but a defeat would be no embarrassment and a draw was the best most of us thought we’d get.
But having acknowledged all that, I still came away from Elland Road today disappointed, almost angry, not that we lost but in the way we effectively handed the game to them with a 23rd minute error from Rob Green. We had seen off the expected early push from the Toon, we’d paid our respects to Gary Speed and we’d established ourselves in the game and then that! I know keepers make mistakes but it does seem that Rob Green is allergic to the TV cameras! Just as he flapped at that high ball on the first day of the season at Loftus Road, so again today his attempt to keep out a seemingly harmless high ball was very poor, amateurish even; it was just so damn infuriating to see it happen in a game of this standing in front of a full house. As Garry Monk said post-match, it changed the dynamic of the game, gave the Toon the advantage. As we know from so many examples last season, errors are punished dramatically in the Championship and the awareness of Gayle, teeth or no teeth, was up there with the best; he almost seemed to know Green was going to drop that ball.
But enough of the moaning, it’s done and actually, had even one of the few other big moments in the game gone our way we might still have got the point that most of us anticipated would be a good achievement from this game. As it was, a seemingly obvious penalty shout was turned down, and that was then compounded with a costly booking for Pontus Jansson that may well have further damaging effects as he now sits out the game at Rotherham next Saturday. A fine spell of pressure before half time also needed a break to go our way but it didn’t. Then a sublime move in the second half gave the Toon breathing space to use to control the game and see it out without too much trouble.
I’d argue Monk got the selection wrong too, Hadi Sacko should be starting in my humble opinion – either for Doukara or Roofe. Hadi worries defenders, wasteful as he can be at times, and he creates things, we saw this when he came on today. Without Pablo Hernandez our invention is limited so why not play Hadi to give defenders something to worry about? We are apparently likely to be without Pablo at Rotherham too so Hadi must start in that one.
But, disappointing as the defeat, any defeat, is, there should be no major inquest after this one; we messed up but we were by no means overrun. That Rotherham game inevitably takes on more significance now though and we need to find a way, without Pablo, to give them things to think about while Liam Cooper, presumably, must come in and show us he can be solid. With the Millers rock bottom we need to be beating them comfortably if our promotion ambitions are to remain believable.
Leeds Utd Newcastle
Possession 52% 48%
Shots 12 10
On Target 4 5
Corners 10 6
Fouls 12 11