FA Carling Premiership
Leeds United 3 - 0 Coventry City
(Half-time: 2 - 0)
|« AS Roma||AS Roma »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Radebe, Woodgate (Haaland HT), Harte, Bowyer (Jones 89), Bakke, McPhail, Wilcox, Bridges (Huckerby 80), Kewell||Robinson, Smith|
|Coventry City||Hedman, Quinn (Shaw 46), Hendry, Breen, Burrows, Chippo, Eustace, McAllister, Whelan, Roussel, Zuniga (Normann 60)||Konjic, Pead, Hyldgaard|
|Leeds United||Kewell 5, Bridges 42, Wilcox 85|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Coventry City|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||10, 8, 16||0|
|Jabba||A much needed win|
|Nick Allen||vs Coventry|
|The Guardian||Kewell fuels Leeds title charge|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Leeds hit throttle as Coventry leave gates wide open|
|The Times||Imperious Leeds have little to beat|
|Express Sport||O'Leary in title mood|
|The Independent||Kewell breathes new life into Leeds|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||It's three'n'easy for O'Leary's boys|
|BBC||Leeds close gap on United|
|Soccernet||Leeds United 3 - 0 Coventry City|
This was a bit of a strange game. Cov are in a bit of a slump and have been decimated by injuries - but the game fell between two very difficult ties against AS Roma, so it would have been understandable if we'd taken our eyes off the ball a bit.
With Carlton Palmer one of the dozen Coventry players keeping their physio busy, the pantomime villain of this piece was, of course, Gary McAllister. It still amazes - and disappoints - me that a large section of the crowd can sing "One greedy bastard" at him when you consider his contribution to the team and the fact that all he was asking for was parity with unproven young players like Bowyer. Still, by the time the Kop got an opportunity to boo him for a Cov corner, we were already a goal up and cruising through as Harry Kewell glided up to the edge of the box and rifled the ball home after just 5 minutes.
Michael Bridges made it 2-0 just before the break, and in between times Eirik Bakke covered a lot of ground, Stephen McPhail was clearly feeling his way back from his hamstring injury, and Lee Bowyer continued a run of not-too-prominent performances in the middle.
For the second half, Jon Woodgate failed to re-emerge and was replaced by Alfi Haaland. With Duberry not even on the bench and Haaland used as a third centreback last Thursday, this is clearly a vote of no-confidence in DOL's £4 million pound signing, but Alfi did do well in midweek, and against largely untaxing opposition did another decent job today.
Throughout the game, ref Jeff Winter tried to keep it flowing and kept his cards in his pocket. With Cov chasing the game, it never really turned into a sharp contest, and even to these partisan eyes there was only one particularly late challenge from the Sky Blues that came close to meriting a caution.
The linesman covering the Leeds attack came in for a bit of stick in the second half as he gave two decisions against Leeds. The first was borderline, but the second would have seen Eirik Bakke clear on goal with everyone clearly played onside by a Coventry defender. The Kop then shouted "Offside!" for the next few Leeds attacks until they got bored with it.
Leeds dropped down a gear for half an hour and were nearly caught twice, but poor finishing and a scrambling stop from Nigel Martyn saved the day. With Michael Bridges replaced by Darren Huckerby for the last few minutes, Leeds renewed their attacking efforts, and a one-two with the sub sent Jason Wilcox clear on the left to produce a right-footed shot and his second goal for the club.
In all a satisfactory afternoon's work - it will be a lot harder than this in the week, and we've got to keep up the pace with the next two league games throwing up Bradford and Wimbledon - 6 points we need to take.
"Strolled to death" absolutely.
Coventry were awful - also liked Strach's comment about wasting everyone's time - Whether we were tired after Thursday, saving ourselves for next week, or what I don't know, but it really didn't matter. In the 2nd half it seemed as if we were deliberately giving Coventry the ball so that we could have a rest, cos they weren't going to do anything with it and it would save us doing a bit of running about.
It was a tedious game - we put ourselves about a bit in the opening 20 mins. and could have scored 3 or 4 - Bridges missed a couple when he should have hit the target, just short of match sharpness I reckon. From then on we scored when we stepped up the tempo.
In the first half I was most impressed by McPhail and Bakke who bossed midfield, good tackling, good tracking back - McPhail made a couple of last ditch tackles in the box that were excellent - passing and vision were good too. Bakke had obviously been told to shoot on sight, as he peppered the upper tier of the South Stand for the opening half hour. The back were solid without being called upon to do much - Woodgate went off at half to be replaced by Alfi, and you scarcely noticed the difference which speaks volumes for Alfi (definitely ahead of Duberry).
Bowyer was willing, but only fleetingly involved down the right, whereas Wilcox had a much better game than of late down the left. Although him and Harte couldn't work out the overlapping fullback bit at all - the timing of the run and the pass was all over the place.
Nige made a couple of saves, but it was a slippers and pipe game for him.
1-0 Free kick top right corner of the box. Harte standing over it, everybody waiting for him to blast it into the stand, instead rolls it infield where Harry flashes it along the ground into the far bottom corner - keeper may have been unsighted.
2-0 Long hoof out from the back (Bakke?) to Harry just over half way - what looked like very dodgy control as the ball bobbled away from him, but he stretched and volleyed it around the corner to the completely unmarked Bridges, who took it on, sat the keeper down, and slid it home.
3-0 Huckerby down the left (quite possibly offside, but after the stick the linesman got he wasn't going to flag this one) cuts inside, plays a square ball - I'm sure he was aiming for Harry, hence the two defenders pile up, but Wilcox charged into the box from nowhere, one touch and a nice finish under the keeper.
The lesson we need to learn by Thursday is to keep the ball -which is why McPhail will start - and also to be mentally sharper, but I don't think that that will be a problem.
MARTYN -7- needed a rest after Thursday
KELLY -6- not much happened down his side.
HARTE -6- marked a portly and ineffectual Whelan out of the game.
WOODGATE -6- rested? at half time
RADEBE -7- nothing got through. Got a nose bleed when he charged forward and it all opened up for him.
BOWYER -6- still off the pace out wide.
McPHAIL -8- First half and -5- second.
BAKKE -8- First half and -6- second which makes him MOTM, but he deserved that anyway for some of the tackles he put in on Macca.
WILCOX -7- a lot more involved in the attacking moves, nicely taken goal, which he deserved.
KEWELL - started at 9/10 and went rapidly downhill to about 4 - cos once he'd done his bit he couldn't be bothered. Whether this was deliberate conservation of energy against poor opposition remains to be seen. Did well for the first 2 goals.
BRIDGES -6- coming back into form/fitness - we need him to be firing on all cylinders on Thursday - sold the keeper a beaut for his goal.
ALFI -6- came on did good.
HUCKERBY -5- OKish.
The Orange Referee was shite - gave nothing - not hand balls, not tackles from behind, nor did he book their Peruvian striker who dived in the box - well if its not a penalty then surely its a dive!
Manchester United, among others, will be interested to learn that as the season steps smartly towards a potentially intriguing crescendo Leeds have at last begun to appreciate that work-rate and end product are not always necessarily connected.
So much of the success enjoyed by David O'Leary's players in the past few months has been a by-product of youthful enthusiasm - relentless running and prodigious effort.
But titles are won as much in the mind as with the feet and yesterday at Elland Road Coventry City were strolled to death.
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