Leeds United 3 Preston North End 0
Listening to the BBC Radio Leeds commentators’ summary of the Preston game as I drove home after the match this evening, I was surprised at the euphoria they were displaying over the Leeds performance. We were good I agree, for much of the game and I thought every one of the Leeds’ players was decent with Kemar Roofe probably the pick of them. But there was a spell in the second half where we offered Grayson’s men far too many chances for my liking and had they had a bit of luck or a better touch in front of goal they could have pushed us far closer than the score line suggests. I missed the Reading and Brentford games as I was away holidaying in Australia and Hong Kong so maybe I didn’t realise quite how bad we were in those games… or maybe I’m just still jet-lagged after going two full days without sleep and I didn’t realise how good we were today! I did only arrive back in the UK at 7am this morning before dashing up to the game!
Seriously though, for much of the game we were far more “on it” than reports suggest we were in those two games down south and the side looked far more balanced with a start for Kemar Roofe on the right and Pedraza on the left linking up with Luke Ayling and Berardi respectively. To be honest I still think Charlie Taylor would offer more of an attacking threat in tandem with Pedraza than Berardi does but equally it's harsh to consider dropping Berardi now as he's done so well all season. The absence of Liam Bridcutt appeared to make us more forward thinking too as Vieira and Phillips commanded much of the midfield action. Pablo Hernandez looked far more comfortable in the hot sunny conditions and firm pitch than he did in cooler, damper conditions of late too while Chris Wood worked hard in the middle. It was a good, hard working, all round performance and while the match stats are near identical for both sides, it was Leeds who took their chances and benefitted from a strong goal keeping display from Rob Green and Preston who missed theirs and suffered some dubious keeping from Chris Maxwell.
At the end of the day it was all about the three points today, three points to boost our own play-off hopes and virtually eliminate any lingering hopes Simon Grayson might have had that his current men can still make it. We got those three points – even more vital once we saw that Fulham, Wednesday and Derby all won today – and we move on to Newcastle on Good Friday. It was all the more fitting to bag those points on the day we remembered Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight who lost their lives following their football team, our football team.
Looking at the other fixtures this Easter, I reckon a point in the North East and three at home to Wolves next Monday could almost seal our play-off place, with only Fulham still having a realistic chance of spoiling the chances of the four sides currently holding the play-off musical chairs. Derby, currently in 8th would need to get at least ten more points than Leeds from their respective final five games; an unlikely scenario. There can be no letting up though, just in case Fulham and Wednesday string together a five match winning streak, unlikely as it seems. I’d now like Garry Monk to run with Roofe and Pedraza as his wide men for the final five games and not continue to tinker with those positions – his other selection issue, that of his centre backs, has now gone away with Coops banned although we have to keep our fingers crossed that Pontus and Barts can avoid injury and suspension between now and whenever our season ends.
Leeds Utd PNE
Possession 50% 50%
Shots 15 15
On Target 6 6
Corners 4 7
Fouls 11 6