Salford City 1 (Smith 34)
Leeds United 1 (Struijk 76)
(Salford win on penalties 9-8)
29th August 2023, Carabao Cup Rd 2.
Peninsular Stadium, Salford.
Well, that was all very ‘Leeds United 2023’ wasn’t it? First things first, we were never going to win this damn cup so it doesn’t really matter. As one bloke said walking out of the ground: “We’re better off out of it!”. But that’s all well and good. The truth is though that we put out a starting XI that ought to have won this game and then improved even on that XI with the substitutes, but for some shocking shooting again and a few ridiculous calls from another very sub-standard referee, we would have walked it. I’m assured that there was enough contact on Gnonto’s legs to merit a penalty for instance while the ref’s whistling for fouls was no better than random!
On Saturday I thought maybe we’d turned the corner with our shooting – 9 of our 14 attempts against a very good Ipswich team hit the target. Tonight we had more than twice as many goal attempts… but still only hit the target with 9 of them! Time after time, with space and under no pressure we fired over the bar and many times over the bloody stand too! It simply is not good enough. Neither is it good enough for Georginio to take a penalty and weakly put it a yard to the left of the keeper or for Sam Greenwood to waste a corner by curling it out of play! Once again, Georginio’s performance on Saturday suggested he’d finally made the grade and surely his confidence ought to have been sky high. Not so, that was the penalty of a very confidence-lacking player much as we saw from a certain Patrick Bamford not long ago.
I’ll repeat, it doesn’t really matter. The big prize is the Championship, but simple things like hitting the target now and again will be quite important as the season motors on.
Leeds played quite well most of the time and created plenty of decent chances – we struck the woodwork three times for goodness sake – but, once again, for the 6th time in a row, every game this season, we went behind despite dominating all of the game up to that point! It’s infuriating. We surely would have been well briefed on the ability of Matt Smith in the air too, but it made no difference he was able to power home a header from 10 yards, far too good for Pascal Struijk to out-jump him.
Leeds got level with some quick thinking by Pascal in front of goal and we had enough decent chances after that to go on and win it but that shooting continued to let us down. It’s a worry that such a strong Leeds XI on the pitch wasn’t strong enough to dispose of League Two opposition.
The big test now is how we bounce back on Saturday. We beat the top-of-the-league side last weekend, now we face the bottom-of-the-division side, Sheffield Wednesday who also bowed out of the cup tonight… how ‘Leeds United’ would it be to mess that one up?
Salford City Leeds U
Possession 29% 71%
Shots 5 33
On Target 2 9
Corners 2 16
Fouls 9 9