FA Carling Premiership
Leeds United 2 - 0 Coventry City
(Half-time: 1 - 0)
|« West Ham United||Arsenal »|
|Leeds||Martyn, Molenaar, Radebe (Halle 61), Woodgate, Batty (McPhail 72), Harte, Bowyer, Hopkin, Kewell, Smith, Hasselbaink||Robinson, Wetherall, Wijnhard|
|Coventry City||Hedman, Nilsson, Williams, Shaw, Soltvedt, Whelan, McAllister, Boateng (Hall 77), Clement (Jackson 53), Froggatt, Edworthy||Breen, Shilton, Ogrizovic|
|Leeds||Hopkin 40, Bowyer 90|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds||Batty, Hasselbaink, Hopkin|
|Coventry City||Shaw, Soltvedt|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||12, 11||0|
|Nigel Sykes||Coventry comment|
|John Lee||Oy Ginger, can it!|
|Nick Allen||vs Coventry|
|Nigel Barber||Play shite and go third!|
|The Guardian||Happy homecoming for Batty|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Bowyer seals Batty's happy homecoming|
|The Times||Batty helps Leeds book third place|
|Express Sport||Battler Batty back to fire Leeds|
|The Independent||High-riding Leeds keep rolling|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||Lucky Leeds march on|
|Soccernet||Soccernet match report|
|Carlingnet||Carlingnet match report|
...getting my match comments in early while still half pissed from the pub (yeah, good idea, Nige...)
As much as I was hoping for a glorious return to SOTG from Batty, even I can't stretch to saying it was anything but a damp squib.
The changes in the team (Batts in, so Bowyer supposedly on the right of midfield - i.e. no right of midfield) seriously unbalanced the side. That, and the facts that Batty didn't do a great deal (apart from nearly getting sent off with a shocking challenge early on) and also that the Coventry midfield were first to the ball on most occasions, meant that we didn't have anything like as much possession as we should have.
Sky possession stats for the first half - their goal end 31percent our end 30percent, the middle 39percent.
Frankly, with 1 shot on target in the 1st half, and them hitting both posts we were damned lucky to come in 1 goal up.
In the 2nd half things weren't much better, even after Halle had come on for the injured Lucas (who should have been subbed as soon as he started hobbling - hasn't O'Leary learned anything from the TOWD / Martyn saga?). Batty inevitably made way too, but I don't recall seeing McPhail touch it after he came on to be honest (that could be the alcohol's fault though).
Having said that, the longer the game went on the more likely we seemed to be to get a 2nd, and I wasn't greatly surprised when we eventually did just that.
Martyn - 8 - Quite simply, we'd have lost without him.
Lucas - 6 - Unspectacular.
Molenaar - 6 - Unspectacular.
Woody - 6 - Unspectacular.
Harte - 7 - Definately a better left midfielder than full back. Did well, and made the 1st goal.
Bowyer - 8 - Surely the best midfielder in the country, even when playing in the wrong place. Like a pearl amongst...
Hopkin - 7 - Solid, and in the right place at the right time for the 1st.
Batty - 4 - The occassion demanded too much?
Kewell - 6 - Ran around a bit. Didn't cross when he should have.
Smith - 4 - Poor. Hardly saw the lad.
Hasselbaink 4 - Poor. Apart from inadvertantly making the 2nd, did not a lot.
Halle - 6 - Gave a bit more balance, but achieved little in the time allowed.
McPhail - 4 - McWho?
O'Leary - 4 - I think we all hoped he had some masterplan we hadn't quite seen, but in reality he seems to have put Batty in regardless of the affect on the formation / impact on the side...
After last weeks (the best Leeds game I've seen in at least 7 years) this was something of a comedown.
Coventry game - a bag of s*ite indeed. Cov shut us down very well, but had two glaring mistakes in their game plan. Firstly, their passing was truly attrocious, even given the swirling rain and wind. (nice to see the Family Stand getting a drenching - it doesn't take much to make me happy eh??). Secondly their finishing was tripe, although Martyn made sure we kept them out too. Watching the game it was actually difficult to say who was effective so poor was the whole game itself. Batty won a lot of ball and laid it off safely. In fact when he went off MacAllister, who might not be a Judas but IS a c*nt, came into the game for the first period in the game - he really looks a spent force I'm glad to say! Our goal was a good one - nice passing and build up - just wish we'd done that a bit more often. Worst bit of the night was when Radebe twisted his knee on the touch-line - he just stood there knowing he'd done something - he should have had the sense to go off then, cos he just froze for 10 seconds - clearly he thought his ligament injury had been affected. O'Leary should have had him off then, never mind waiting till he'd been clattered again. McPhail was totally anonymous when he came on, but then so was Kewell. And as for f*cking Hasselbaink?? Booked again for shooting his mouth of and now suspended! Didn't challenge for a single header, and was an all-round bag of s*ite! OK, others were nearly as bad, but his unwillingness to battle will always mean he'll get stick from me, and plenty of others around me who can't stand his prima-donna manner, the big jessy!
To redress things slightly though, I thought Harte had his best game ever for us - I bet he was over-joyed Huckerby was out mind you!
Harte 8 - yes, EIGHT!!!
It took him 7 minutes to get booked - and he was lucky that that was all he got - that's maturity for you.
The reason we didn't lose this game can be summed up in two words - Nigel Martyn. When they did get a shot on target, and admittedly some of their shooting was woeful, he pulled off 3 or 4 world class stops. A save from Whelan header, quickly followed by a low plunging save at the post from a volley 15 yards out - and as he saved this the ball spooned up in the air, and despite being horizontal on the ground he managed to volley the loose ball to safety, just before Whelan arrived to crash it home. Gordon Banks and then some. Plus the save from Whelan in the 2nd half, after he'd skinned the limping Lucas, when the shot was travelling high and across the keeper.
Coventry also hit both posts in a bizarre scramble which finished with Woody chinning one of their forwards.
1-0 : a neat little passing move that went Batty - Kewell - Harte - Hopkin and goal. From the middle down the inside left channel, from where Harte rolled the ball back along the six yard box after drawing the keeper out, to a lonesome Hopkin, who couldn't miss.
2-0 : Jimmy racing into the box from the top left - hits a low drive which the keeper parries, out to the inrushing LeBowya, 6 yards out at an angle, and boom.
The only other time we came close to scoring was a minute after the second when Jimmy was put through in the same place by Harry, only to see his shot hit the keeper's foot, and go wide.
We had 2 other chances which should have brought goals - Jimmy blazed over from 15 yards after a poor clearance from a corner - and Big Bob craftily beat the offside to get on the end of Harte's (?) free kick, 5 yards out, ball there to head, only the keeper to beat - the snag ? - Bob was facing the wrong way - so he tried a back head flick, and just lobbed it up in the air, easy for the keeper.
To avoid repeating what others have said.
Yes it was a poor game. Yes we won despite that. Yes Coventry were shit - and I always hate playing them, because we always play shit agin them ( bit like Leicester really). Yes Macca is very bald. Yes Lucas should have gone off earlier - but how much of this is down to the player saying "I can go on". And the most important Yes - is that moving Bowyer out to a right wing backy sort of position to accommodate Batty was folly. As I was aying to the bloke behind me - "It doesn't make any sense to move Lee out there when he's been banging goals in for fun from CMidfield, and leave Hopkin there who couldn't score in a brothel... oh well done David... huhm"
MARTYN -9- MOTM by a mile
WOODGATE -7- steady
MOLENAAR -7- ditto
RADEBE -7- ditto - but worried.
HARTE -6- didn't impress me as much as he appears to have done others.
BOWYER -7- had a good game - but could have had, and wanted to have a better one in the centre - wasted out wide.
BATTY -6- carried on where he left off - with some forward passing thrown in.
HOPKIN -6- another steady confidence building game.
KEWELL -6- out of the game for long spells.
SMITH -4- out of the game for most of it.
HASSELBAINK -5- looked lively when given the opportunity - which was twice.
DOL - needs to sort out his priorities in midfield.
CAR CITY TEAM CRUSHED
Well, it made a refreshing change - playing badly against Coventry but winning for once. Cue a boatload of cliches along the lines of "it's a sign of a good team if you can win when you are bobbins".
The heart of the problem was the tactical switches made to accomodate Batty (whose reception was really only lukewarm - the crowd are no mugs): switching to four at the back with Woody at right back and LeeBowya totally wasted out on the right.
Coventry started the better, with Judas (boooo! - well, it is panto season) really busting a gut and pulling the strings in midfield. When Froggat and Whelan hit either post, before we somehow scrambled the ball away, you just couldn't avoid the feeling that it was going to be our night.
As the team started to gel a little more, we began to create chances of our own, especially as Coventry never looked remotely looked like being able to keep a clean sheet (Paul Williams has a great post-footy future ahead of him as a circus clown), so it was no surprise (but a bloody huge relief) when a slick move started by Batty (with a forward pass [gasp!]) ended with an unmissable goal for Hopkin (note that there is no bloody 's' on the end of his name).
I've already mercifully forgotten much of the second half, but we defended too deep and surrendered the initiative to Coventry far too much. However, their defence was always likely to let them down and LeeBowya capped another fine performance with the coup de grace in injury time.
So, in a sentence: dreadful game, great result.
How did the players do? Well .......
Martyn: England's number 1 very soon. What a shot stopper.
Harte: Played as if possessed by demons (some of them occasionally drunk).
Lucas: Unbeatable as ever. Injured again, though (I'm typing with crossed fingers).
Woodgate: Visibly grows in stature with every game, and he is now giving away less free kicks for naive fouls, starting to read the game better and tackle well. He's no Rio Ferdinand going forward, but he going to be a much better defender (if he isn't already).
Molenaar: Another solid game, but he didn't produce many Big Bad Bob's Bombs (his trademark crossfield pass to Kewell's bonce) - perhaps DOL doesn't like such an unsubtle tactic.
Bowyer: Initially wasted on the right, but eventually became much more involved and influential, especially in the second half.
Hopkin: Definitely missed Lee's buzzing industry alongside him, and occasionally struggled.
Batty: Booked within five minutes for a challenge that could have seen him walk. Did plenty enough to suggest that he will be a good buy for more than just sentimental reasons - even trying to banish the square passing stereotype.
Kewell: Not his best game, but still full of running, and his vision and pass to set up the opening goal was sublime.
Jimmy: Talk about blowing hot and cold. Devastating against West Ham, petulant and lazy last night. If he was female, I'd suggest it was hormonal! His daft booking means that he will miss the Wombles game at Christmas.
Smith: Eager, but nowhere near ready for full time action, in my opinion, and displays a Jimmy-like first touch at times. We really are tissue thin on front-line resources. Can we have a top class striker for Xmas, Santa?
Halle (for Lucas): Dogged and dependable with the occasional slice into touch.
MacPhail (for Batty): The invisible man. I'm still waiting to see a convincing display of his reputed talent.
If we play like that too often, someone is going to cruelly burst our bubble. [Panto joke alert] Let's hope we don't make and Arse of things on Sunday (geddit??!?!).
Watching our tactical contortions as we struggle to accomodate Batty will make for interesting (and probably frustrating) spectating.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 15/12/98.
Flair and elegance have never been as important to David Batty as the end product, and the manner of his homecoming at Elland Road last night could hardly have emphasised that more strongly.
Leeds went third in the Premiership, and Batty even provided the flick which set up David Hopkin's first-half goal, but it was a fidgety, unconvincing victory, given an extra gloss by Lee Bowyer's injury-time goal after a Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink cross from the left was defelected into his path.
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