FA Carling Premiership
Leeds United 1 - 0 Southampton
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
|« Bradford City||Spartak Moscow »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Mills, Woodgate, Harte, Bowyer, Batty (Bakke 31), McPhail, Kewell, Smith (Huckerby 63), Bridges||Haaland, Robinson, Hiden|
|Southampton||Jones, Tessem, Lundekvam, Richards, Colleter, Ripley, Soltvedt, Hughes (Beattie 77), Oakley, Kachloul, Pahars (Dodd 89)||Le Tissier, Moss, Boa Morte|
|Leeds United||Bridges 90|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Bakke, Bowyer|
|Southampton||Kachloul, Pahars, Colleter, Hughes||Colleter (88)|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||8||0|
|Jabba||Luck? That was skill!|
|Nick Allen||vs Southampton|
|Stotty||Leeds vs Saints Match Report|
|Martyn Brown||v Southampton|
|The Guardian||Jones rages after Leeds snatch win|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Youth has its day as Leeds go top|
|The Times||Bridges helps Leeds over troubled waters|
|The Independent||Leeds hit summit as Bridges takes aim|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||Glory boy Bridges puts United on top|
|BBC||Lucky Leeds scramble to the top|
|Soccernet||Leeds United 1 - 0 Southampton|
There was one very lucky team out there today, and 3 very lucky individuals. The lucky team, I'm forced to admit, was Leeds. We created some decent chances and failed to take them and let the Saints have the majority of on-target chances. The 3 lucky individuals were Hughes (surprise surprise), Kachloul and Batty, all of whom were lucky not to get a red card (and probably deserved it more than Colleter who did manage to get sent off): the game wasn't particularly dirty, but it was competitive, there were a couple of flashpoint incidents and it was reffed by our old friend, Rob Harris from Oxford.
With a couple of notable exceptions (hi there Mr Tinkler), refs used to be fairly anonymous, but with total TV coverage and instant trial-by-Hansen on MOTD in addition to UEFA, FIFA and FA observers, 4th officials and all the rest, anything less than a nitpicking, disruptive performance will not pass muster. And today Mr Harris did not disappoint. He didn't quite live up to the standard of last season's game at Upton Park when he managed to dismiss 3 West Ham players, but his semi-random bookings threatened to reduce West Ham to ten men somewhat sooner than he did.
What about the football game Jon?
A few years ago, I used to write regular match reports for The Square Ball. In the end, a combination of lack of time and spending the 1992-93 season writing about away defeats made me give up, and after the latest run of games, I'm having a strange sense of deja vu - but at least the results themselves are better than 6 years ago!
The pro-forma match report now reads something like: Opposition come to defend in numbers. Leeds have lots of pressure. Leeds don't have many shots on target. Harry/Smithy shoot when they should pass. Bridges works his arse off all along the front line. Huckerby comes on for Smith, runs around, beats three defenders then realises he left the ball 5 yards back. Batts/Bowyer gets booked. Nige pulls off a tremendous save. Opposition defence goes to sleep for a minutes and Leeds score.
Today's variations: I was actually quite impressed with Southampton. Like many of the teams that we are seeing at Elland Road this year, they came to defend in numbers and try for the odd chance on the break. But when they did have a chance to move upfield, they did it well, passing the ball rather than hoofing it. In Pahars they have an excellent nippy little player with good control and a good eye for goal (we should slap in a bid!), Kachloul showed a bit of a temper but took on a Lee Bowyer role for them, covering every square inch of grass and getting into some decent attacking positions. And Dean Richards appears to have spent the last 3 months studying a videotape of Michael Bridges' hat-trick at The Dell so he could make sure it didn't happen again here.
Batts went off after 30 minutes - apparently with a dodgy achilles - just after an off-the-ball incident saw Kachloul booked (and from what I saw Batts was lucky to escape here). This brought on Bakke instead of Alfi, which would have seemed a more straightforward swap. Would it have resulted in a different outcome for the match? Maybe - maybe not. Certainly with Batty off, the resulting reorganisation meant that Lee Bowyer had to play deeper, and so we missed his attacking skills (though so did he on a couple of occasions when he did get through only to blaze the ball high and/or wide). McPhail never looks as effective without Batts' dominating influence, and I don't recall Bakke doing anything of note in his entire hour.
Can't criticise Harry too much since (a) we love him and want him to stay and (b) he's not the only one, but someone who is rated so highly by so many people (including himself) had better start figuring out how to hit the target when faced with a one-on-one. I think that part of it is that he's trying to take on a bit too much himself, which maybe partly greed but also that he is conscious of the fact that he is the focus of much media attention and so much is expected of him, so he's trying just that bit too hard: a little bit of relaxation could work wonders here.
In other news, Danny Mills is no centre-back - getting turned by Mark Hughes might have been an acceptable thing to happen 10 years ago, but it's not what you'd expect to see happening today. Having said that, despite the inevitable niggles (and abuse from the crowd) Hughes played well as the pivot of Southampton's efforts going forward. Gary Kelly and Ian Harte both made little impact - mainly due to the packed midfield. Nigel Martyn and Jon Woodgate combined to stop the Saints taking the lead early in the 2nd half after a loose ball had set Pahars through on goal.
The game nearly ended in farce. Colleter was booked for diving with just 2 minutes to go in normal time: it was his second yellow card so he walked. One minute into stoppage time, the 4th official finally held up the board showing 3 minutes of injury time (we were expecting 4 or 5 based on the stoppages and time-wasting by the Saints). With the seconds ticking away and the crowd drifting out of the exits, Leeds had a final attack and the ball was partially cleared out of the area. Bridges shaped his body well and smashed home a 20-yard volley - the keeper had no chance and Elland Road erupted. There's something uniquely glorious about a injury time winner - we maybe deserved something today, but we couldn't have complained too much about getting a draw. As it is, we got the 3 points and we're back on top. I don't know how much longer we can keep sneaking them like this, but I'm happy to continue writing about it for a while yet.
Its getting difficult to think of different ways of saying the same thing week in week out.
We looked like we were going to wipe them off the face of the earth, for the first 25 minutes - I think every outfield player had a decent pop at goal in that spell - then when we didn't get the early goal we began to lose fluency 30 yards from goal. They defended deep - even then they had two efforts cleared off the line, so we could easily have lost it. Batty went off after 30 minutes, and we lost our way for a while. We must have had the youngest outfield 10 players in the league at that point. Gary"old man" Kelly 24(25?) became captain after Batty went off.
In the opening spell Kewell looked like he was king of the world - running through them at will, little lay offs, putting teammates through etc. His linking up with Bridges especially was joyous. Its difficult to know who missed the easiest opportunity, Bridges, Bowyer, Batty, Harry... Probably Harry at the start of the 2nd half, when a defender presented him with the ball 40 yards out, and a clear run at goal - he was so busy looking for men to dribble round, that he didn't even get a shot in.
2 minutes into injury time, Harte takes a free kick from just inside their half, booms it high and long to the back post -cue a chorus of "what a shit free kick" from the wise heads in row KK. Someone at the back post heads back across goal, a defender heads clear to the edge of the D, McPhail just gets there first and knocks it sideways to Bridges who wallops a beautiful waist high volley through a packed penalty area and inside the left hand post. Cue mayhem...
They had had a player sent off on 88 minutes for his second yellow card - he'd gone down like he'd been shot, and then got up a trotted off when no free kick was forthcoming. The linesman spotted it and when the ball went dead, he called the ref over, and off went the man. It looked like being scant consolation at that point, to me.
MARTYN -6- a couple of good saves.
KELLY -6- decent enough defending, good going forward.
MILLS -6- steady job done, still worried by his positioning at times. This boy is no Lucas.
HARTE -6- as Kelly.
WOODGATE -7- commanding job at the back. Always in control.
BOWYER -6- ran around a lot, but won't have put forward any further claims for an England shirt.
BATTY -8- our best player until he went off.
(BAKKE -7-) had another good game in the middle.
McPHAIL -7- neither he nor Bowyer took control of the game in Batty's absence, stillgood nonetheless.
KEWELL - 6 - This is an average of the 9 at the start descending to 4 by the end.
BRIDGES -8- match winner and constant thorn.
SMITH -6- quiet again.
HUCKERBY came on but didn't touch the ball.
Crowd - silent for 92 minutes. But "we are top of the league"
Ref - laughable.
PS good to see Hiden on the bench, but is he the world's most boring man - see Q&A in the prog.
Whatever you do dont ever play Monopoly against David O'Leary because he'll cheat and you'll lose. This is because our supposedly naive young manager has an endless supply of "Get Out Of Jail" cards stashed under his side of the board. Yet again he played one of those cards at the death today.
To be honest I'd sloped away a few minutes before the goal was scored. But by the wonders on modern digital technology I'd seen the goal on TV before most of the players had finished drying their nadgers in the showers.
A wonderful 18 yard strike by Michael Bridges, a left footed drive in front of the South Stand that nestled like a haddock in a Grimsby trawler's net. We were back on top of the League.
It all started so badly........the team sheet showed no Radebe, in his place the yet-to-prove-he's-worth-the-money Mills. Worse than that was that we'd lost the toss and we were kicking towards the Kop first half.
The 39 thousand crowd longed for a 5-star performance but Leeds simply weren't at their best today. Far from it. In the opening 20 minutes the omens were favourable. Leeds bit hard into the Saints. Batty and Bowyer picked up the scraps and fed them to the hungry Bridges, Smith and Kewell. Bridges with his clever footwork and movement provided opening after opening and Bowyer's well timed runs left the static Saints defence bewildered. Kewell blazed over twice. Leeds were all flicks and touches and backheels. They were Showboating to the crowd as if they were 3 up. It was 0-0 though. The deserved goal didn't come. No cricket score today.
Batty a vital cog in the Leeds machine departed with no apparent injury on 20 mins (Maybe my mobile phone was interfering with his pacemaker.) Leeds ground to a earth-shattering halt. Bakke a tall, graceful Norwegian was no replacement for the diminutive, no nonsense, yorkshire terrier. Haaland, his leash still on, was left snarling on the bench.
We lost the midfield. Bowyer was inexplicably annexed on the right and the unavailing McFrail missed his absent minder.
Mark Hughes the Son of Satan, elbowed and shoved his team back into the game like a frenzied pensioner at a Jumble Sale. Kewell cleared off the line from a close range Kachloul effort, and Martyn made two flying saves to keep the scores level. Apart from that though Leeds still took the first half on points.
Without Radebe many eyes were focused on the defence. How would they cope ? Mills, in central defence, was attracted to the ball like a moth to a light. It was strangely effective though. Woodgate revelled in The Chief's role. Kelly and Harte, an interestingly in-bred Uncle and Nephew combination , displayed the composure and assurance that must run in the family. We looked pretty solid but the solitary Hughes up front and the pitiable Ripley out wide were never going to stretch us too far.
We needed a bollocking at half-time. We should be able to beat this shower of shite no problem.
Attacking the South Stand in the 2nd half always mutes the Kop end. Today was no exception. The Boys Pen cheap seats in the (North) East Stand lower tried to bait the Kop into life. "You only sing when we're winning" taunted the Cheaps. "Who the fucking hell are you" responded the Kop.
Infighting was not what we needed but the New Kids on the East Stand Block had a point. The atmosphere was crap. Leeds lacked punch, Smith was being dominated by the ubiquitous Richards and Kewell ran into blind alley after blind alley. Leeds created few chances and by now the Saints began to fancy their chances of a possible upset.
An almighty scramble led to Martyn making a fantastic save from Pahars and the rebound shot was cleared by the astute Woodgate from the goal line.
Leeds needed to change their game plan if they were to climb back to the summit. We looked to the bench. We needed a man to take the game by the scruff of the neck, a man to add some spark to a lacklustre attack, a man to give a blazing finale to light up the Elland Road gloom.
Huckerby ran on.
There ended his contribution to this game. Ok he made a mazy head-down dribble that ended in a tame chip...oh ...and yes he did blaze the ball high and wide from a reasonable position, but apart from that he did, in the words of the mighty Paul Danniels, "Not a lot." In my words he did "fuck all"
I'll give Darren the benefit of the doubt this time. He needs better service. He didn't get that today. My patience,however, like the seat of a bus drivers trousers, is wearing thin.
With the precious minutes ticking away Leeds realised they needed to do something quickly. Bowyer, strangley subdued for an hour began to get involved again. A bit a niggle was creeping into the game and it was no surprise when Patrick Colleter was shown the red card after feigning injury following an innocuous clash with Bowyer.
I left the ground in the knowledge that the game would end in stalemate. Perhaps 0-0 was a fair result and credit to Southampton for weathering the early Leeds storm and then in turn to slowly take a grip on the game. I broke into a wry smile knowing that Mr O'leary would look at this game and realise it was time to strengthen. Maybe give Alfie a go. Yep - a point was fair.
Football is a funny game and the cracks were well and truly papered over when Bridges' injury time winner whistled in. I love it.
Scores on the Doors ------------------- Martyn 7.5 Made a few good saves. Slow off his line though. Kelly 7.0 Not quite at his best but some good runs and tight defending Harte 7.0 Mirrored his uncle in every way possible. Woody 8.0 Coped magnificently without his usual partner in crime Mills 7.5 Bags of effort and determination. Looks his best position as he's fucking useless at right back McFrail 5 Looked exposed without Batty to shadow him Bowyer 6 Looked pissed. Batty 6 His usual brilliant self for 20 mins. We missed him. Kewell 5 Started brightly, ended shitely Bridges 7.5 Quality play. Great goal. Could do with a change of striking partner. Smith 5 I feel sorry for him. He looks out of his depth. It cant be easy playing in a baby-grow and fluffy cotton slippers. Subs ---- Bakke 5 Poor game. Played in the centre where Bowyer should have been. Huckerby 1 Big, fat, steamy dog plop on a rope. Not used Robbo,Alf,Hiden
Not a great game, very frustrating and seemingly typical of other recent games where the opposition has come for a point. In fact, it probably reminded me most of the opening day against Derby, it never seemed like we'd break through.
We had a very bright opening 10mins and I think if we'd have scored then, it would have been a rout. We had 4 or 5 good chances but things settled down on 20mins, especially so when Batty went off (not sure if he was carrying an injury before the game) when the midfield more or less lost the plot.
Southampton rarely threatened and most of what they did was down to Leeds failing to clear or giving the ball away cheaply - something we've done poorly all season IMHO.
It was a blessed relief when Bridges broke the deadlock and no more than we - or Southampton deserved (or any team who come with such negative tactics).
Dave Jones hardly ventured from the bench, everytime he did, he was barracked with 'pervert' and 'paedophile' from the West Stand fans.
Saints were generally a very big, physical side and their foreign imports seemed to enjoy feigning injury (much like our own Kewell) and it was no suprise when they had a man sent off with 2 mins to go, only real suprise was that scummer Hughes stayed on the pitch so long.
3 points, that will do nicely. Back on top of the league and Derby to look forward to (I'm not driving so I'll be fairly pissed).
Oh and I took the wife since no one wanted my mates ST, she thought it was alright, but a bit crap because it took ages for us to score - and she thinks the pie she had at half time is giving her the squits. No change there then.
Martyn - Seldom troubled, looked comfortable for the most part - 7
Kelly - Positive going forward, couple of bad passes - 7
Harte - Excellent going forward, played well at the back - 8
Mills (replacing Radabe) - Solid game, good distribution, fought with Hughes all day - 7
Woodgate - Commanding at the back, good distribution, obvious future captain - 9
Batty - Usual self before being withdrawn after 20-25mins, not sure why he went off - 7
Bowyer - Energetic but below his usual performance, wasteful of opportunity & greedy - 6
Smith - Hard working but little threat - 7
Bridges - Worked hard & our most obvious threat, great finish - 8
Kewell - Flashes of excellence, flashes of petulance, flashes of greed, poorest game for a while - 5
Bakke (on for Batty) - Fitful contribution, not his usual self, probably since Batty was missing - 5
Huckerby (on for Smith) - Usual self, always a threat - 6
Ref (Harris) - Nit-picking performance, missed lots of stuff, slowed game down - 6
Crowd - 39,200 or so, very quiet & sub-dued, we NEED an early goal at home or frustratement at the 11-man defence sets in - 5
Pies - A bit burnt, but at least edibly warm, instead of Chernobyl style heat.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 29/11/1999.
When you have been made weary, mentally and physically, by way of a fruitless journey into the heart of a cruel Russian winter, you are possibly due a smattering of good fortune.
As a final whistle which, in truth, could not have come a moment too soon sounded, the players of Leeds United embraced like drunken guests at a wedding.
They were smiling, too, and no wonder for here was the victory pulled from nowhere, the win which adds credence to the tired old theory that teams of pedigree tend to come on top even when they have no right so to do.
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