Leeds United 1 (Dallas 60)
Football, like life, has an amazing ability to constantly throw up coincidences; that’s all they are mind, there is no dark or magical force actually creating these moments of apparent Karma or payback or whatever… leastways I don’t think so! But if you wait long enough you can generally find that something will eventually go for you that in the past has gone very much against you and vice versa. Old footballers will tell you that ‘luck’, that’s another name for it all, will even out over time and we know that one day, even Leeds United will get a penalty!
Last night’s game was a classic example of all this stuff. Just over 12 months ago, on 14th October 2017, Leeds faced Reading at Elland Road with a certain Jeremy Simpson as the referee and in front of 33,900 fans on a Saturday afternoon. Ex Leeds man Mo Barrow scored for the Royals (that’s something else that frequently happens of course!) in the 84th minute in a close fought game between two out of form teams. It looked like Jaap Stam would get the better of Thomas Christiansen. Then, salvation! In the 2nd minute of added time Leeds won a penalty – in fact it would prove to be the last one we’ve been given in now over 57 games since! Pablo Hernandez strode up and… weakly hit his spot-kick to the right of Vito Mannone who got down to his left to save it. At the final whistle boos rang around Elland Road.
Fast forward to last night: a similarly close game, albeit now both sides play somewhat differently under different head coaches. It took Leeds an hour to break the deadlock against a resolute Reading defence but Dallas’ close range finish looked to be enough to secure the three points that was all important, despite still not recapturing that early season magical form. We were seconds away from added time with the 1 – 0 lead, just as Reading were a year ago, when Barry Douglas appeared to take the legs of Josh Sims on the edge of the area near the byline. Mike Dean was the referee this time and he was soon, probably correctly, pointing at the spot. It did flash through my mind how this all looked and felt very much like the mirror image of the game last season but you can never expect these things to happen; they just do although I was hoping! This time, our recently much maligned keeper with the name too long to find him a song, dived full length to his right to turn away a decent looking penalty by Marc McNulty and there we had it, the perfect counter-balance to the 1-0 defeat last season. This time the final whistle was met with a huge roar and applause for our heroes.
We should have had a penalty ourselves of course, not for the silly dive by Alioski, but for a clear and intentional handball when Chris Gunter punched the ball away believing it had already gone for a corner… which replays clearly show it had not! The Kop told Mike Dean as much and he made a strange gesture to us by pointing at his head as if to suggest he thought Gunter had headed it out! But, I have no doubt we will soon get the Karma for that and at Bramall Lane on Saturday would be perfect; I have a feeling we will need some help for that one!
Leeds Utd Reading
Possession 65% 35%
Shots 19 9
On Target 5 2
Corners 3 3
Fouls 12 9