Leeds Utd 3 (Piroe 4, Rutter 45+3, James 61)
Swansea City 1 (Paterson 1)
29th November, 2023, EFL Championship.
That was a lot more comfortable than I expected! Well, at least once that manic first five minutes was done with! In general this season, Leeds have always done what has been expected of them, with only a few points squandered along the way and, on the night when Sheffield Wednesday actually did us a favour by holding the Foxes to a draw (just as they did to us earlier in the season), we did the necessary business to record a 6th straight home victory.
The first five minutes of this game was a typical Leeds United rollercoaster period, a rare period this season when, just for a few moments, we were not in control of events. Within seconds of the start we thought we had the lead. Summerville put Georginio in a good position on the Leeds left, he whacked the ball low across the face of goal, and Dan James was there to pop it into the net. Cue delirium only for the liner to immediately shut down our celebrations. A quick free kick by the Swans got the ball out to their right back, he lofted a five iron of a pass over the Leeds back line and Pascal Struijk presumably didn’t see Paterson running through. Pascal nodded the ball down towards his own goal and behind the retreating Joe Rodon and Paterson said thank you very much as he half-volleyed a perfect first-time chip over Meslier. Terrific finish but Leeds caught napping.
No worry though; within a minute Leeds were level and it was another very familiar goal, a goal we’ve become accustomed to seeing this season. Summerville breaking through the middle, a measured pass through to Joe Piroe and he was coolness personified as he slipped the ball past Rushworth to score against his previous employers. It was the classic Piroe finish and it settled everybody down and restored parity to the game.
For most of the rest of the half it was a close contest; Leeds undoubtedly played the better football and looked to have the edge in quality but Swansea were stubborn in their resistance and were getting as much ball and as many openings as Leeds. Both sides traded corners too, and it looked like we were going in all square at the break in much the same way we thought we’d be going in a goal ahead at the break at Rotherham last Friday. This time, it was Swansea failing to manage the game properly.
Ethan Ampadu reprised the long ball we saw that led to the Swans’ goal, but this time Ethan clubbed it straight down the centre of the pitch over the Swans’ back line. Georginio watched it fly all the way over a defender’s shoulder and brought it down much as Daniel Farke did on the touchline a few weeks ago. A deft touch that got the ball down and then that characteristic strength we’ve often seen from Georginio to hold off the challenge of Bashir Humphreys before guiding the ball deliciously past Rushworth. It was a piece of quality that summed up the difference between these two teams. After the game the Swans manager, Michael Duff commented that “ …we were undone by Premier League quality.” Perhaps that is getting ahead a bit too far but I know what he means.
The second half was mostly comfortable for Leeds and the only criticism that could be made was that we didn’t kill the game off earlier than we did. There were a couple of good openings – one that Crysencio blasted over the bar for example and another Dan James effort that he really didn’t get hold of properly – but our finishing wasn’t quite at the same level as our approach play.
The killer goal finally came just after the hour mark. A crunching tackle by Sam Byram right on the halfway line pushed the ball forward to Georginio and he was immediately aware of the options – a bit like how Pablo always seemed to know what he was going to do with the ball even before he received it! Georginio slid the ball diagonally through the defensive line right into the path of Dan James and this time Dan buried the ball into the roof of the net. Game set and match to Leeds.
There were a couple of useful results that helped us tonight, not only that late equaliser from Wednesday but Sunderland came a cropper at home to Huddersfield too. Ipswich and Southampton won which keeps them both handily placed as did West Brom last night, but we are slowly but surely putting distance between ourselves and the first team outside of the top six which has to be the first target. There looks to be a chance to gain more ground again on the Foxes at the weekend as they face a daunting trip to West Brom as long as we can come up trumps against Middlesbrough at Elland Road. It’s another tricky looking fixture but if we are going up this season you’d think we have to be winning it. Fingers crossed.
Leeds U Swansea C
Possession 50% 50%
Shots 18 10
On Target 8 2
Corners 6 5
Fouls 12 11