Leeds Utd 2 (James 21, Piroe 28)
Plymouth Argyle 1 (Waine 84)
11th November, 2023, EFL Championship.
Goodness me! If there is a difficult way to do things, Leeds will find it! I guess we should all just rejoice in another home victory and that we are still riding high and are now three points closer to Leicester following the Foxes upset at Middlesbrough… but, I can’t shake from my mind a slight feeling of disappointment and frustration that we made this so tough for ourselves.
Leeds dominated the first half much as we did against the Terriers and should probably have gone in at half time with the same four goal lead. We did get two and had another one chalked off for offside but it could and should have been more.
We opened the scoring in the 21st minute following the latest chapter in the Georginio book of 'how to taunt defenders' as he collected a throw on the Leeds left, jinked past one defender, then jinked past him again, and then stepped between three of them before playing a sumptuous one-two with Crysencio. Georginio then looked to be barged to the floor by another defender who, presumably so relieved that the ref didn’t point to the spot, forgot about clearing the ball, stumbled over it instead and, under pressure from Glen Kamara, shanked it straight to Dan James; perhaps that was a touch of Karma or maybe just Kamara! Nothing wrong with Dan’s finish; he merely walloped it into the net from the edge of the box! Is this spell of games from Dan James the best we’ve ever seen from him?
Crysencio then finished cleanly as Sam Byram touched the ball through as three more defenders closed him down; sadly, Crysencio was just offside. It was a temporary let-off for the Pilgrims only though as Crysencio was soon chasing back to dispossess a defender midway in the Plymouth half. Having won the ball he touched it to Piroe and then raced towards goal to collect the return. Piroe in turn ran around the outside of Summerville as the little genius dummied one way and then the other before laying a perfectly weighted ball into the path of our number ‘7’ and he showed the way he can often finish as he slotted the ball between the keeper’s legs. Two nil and cruising.
Leeds continued to push for more but we then started to see that annoying lack of a ruthless streak in front of goal that continues to hamper us. It is just so frustrating when we’d already shown that we can be clinical with those two early goals. The next chance came curtesy of a dire back pass from Plymouth on their right wing that was supposed to be for their right-back but he was asleep and let the ball go past him and into the path of Georginio! He ran from halfway with it and struck a hopeful left-footer all along the turf but there was no power in it. However good Georginio is, he ain’t no clinical goal poacher! He’d have been better pushing the ball to his right where Joel Piroe was in space. Piroe had another chance shortly after but his finish this time was weak and easily saved.
And that was the story of the second half too; our approach play was often sublime but our finishing was usually substandard. Piroe was handed one on a plate as Crysencio set him up but, facing the wrong way, he turned and clipped a shot that cannoned off the back of a green shirt when perhaps more finesse was needed. He possibly ought to have scored minutes later too with a header when Georginio lifted a gorgeous lob over the backline onto Piroe’s head but he nodded that one over. In fact, Joel Piroe has started to remind me a bit of Jermaine Beckford…yes, Joel, like Beckford is a great goal scorer, but, also like Jermaine used to, he does miss a goodly number of chances! Georginio also had at least two more efforts but again one shot was easily saved while another flew into row Z. The best effort came from substitute Jaidon Anthony who was only denied by a fine diving save by Michael Cooper in the Plymouth goal.
Those misses were so nearly costly, as with Sam Byram limping off and Junior Firpo taking his place, we didn’t look quite so watertight anymore. Plymouth had made various changes too, bringing on Ben Waine, a striker, having played the first hour or more without one. Their fresh legs and our misses combined to give them hope of a miraculous escape. The Plymouth goal came from a simple ball through their inside right channel to Luke Cundle and his first-time ball across goal was volleyed in by Waine who was unmarked at the back post. It was not great defending by Leeds.
The scene was set for one of those typical Leeds United late collapses we all know and hate, but Plymouth, try as they might, didn’t quite have the class to make us pay. They kept us all on our toes though with a few late corners and, although it was not exactly the Alamo, I’m sure all Leeds fans were as nervous as I was.
In the end of course, the only thing that really matters is that we won the game and, despite the scoreline, we were by far the better team. There is a gulf in class between the likes of ourselves and Leicester and most other teams in this division. On another day, I’m sure we will put more of our chances away, as we did in that first half against the Terriers. The key, for the moment, is that our approach play is as good if not better than any other Championship side can conjure up. In Georginio, Summerville and Dan James we have possibly the form creative players of the moment. I do still worry that the quality on our bench is a long way behind our first XI and that we have to hope and pray that the first XI stays fit and in form, but, if it does, then I’m sure there are many more victories to enjoy this season.
When we come back after this next break, we have another good looking opportunity to close the gap on the top two. We need to be beating Rotherham on the Friday night and then see what Ipswich can do at West Brom the following evening; here’s hoping!
Leeds U Plymouth A
Possession 60% 40%
Shots 14 9
On Target 6 3
Corners 7 6
Fouls 10 10