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Lacklustre Leeds Ride Their Luck

Saturday 21st January 2012
Leeds had their visitors self destruction to thank after they managed to steal a result which was seemingly beyond their grasp as Ipswich were forced to lick their wounds.

On a cold January afternoon another club came to not so sunny Yorkshire to try and topple the Elland Road Giants. Leeds United came into this game on the back of a run of poor performances yet decent results, apart from the good performance at the Emirates a few weeks ago which resulted in a loss.

Not only was the air cold but it was also hostile with fans walking into the ground being greeted by the sound of “Bates Out” being sang by around four to five hundred frustrated fans outside. In a week where once again Leeds United were embroiled in bad press after the departure of captain Jonny Howson to the premier league, in a quiet transfer until the last second to which it was met by the obvious calls for changes in the boardroom.

Leeds lined up in a 4-4-2 formation for the first time in 6 games as they tried to shuffle the pack in order to give a new dimension to their game. First team regular Aiden White was surprisingly on the bench and there was also a shock call up for Mikael Forssell whilst the talismanic Robert Snodgrass started down the right and Andy Lonergan took the captains armband from the departed Jonny Howson. Fabian Delph was also granted a second debut after his return on a loan basis from Aston Villa.

The Tractor Boys selected the same team that drew with Blackpool last week with the only exception being the return of Daryl Murphy in for Josh Carson. Ipswich also fielded Alex McCarthy, the goalkeeper who Leeds had for a couple of months after an injury to Lonergan. McCarthy was well received by the Kop as he set himself up for the clash of the under pressure managers.

Paul Jewell's side sat 19th in the league before this game and Jewell was under massive pressure to get a result at faltering United who's own gaffer, Simon Grayson, has been the subject of abuse from sections of the Elland Road faithful and also under massive pressure to succeed thanks to the exceptional expectations of Mr Bates.

And it was United who started off the brightest with a good passing move leading to Snodgrass down the right who dropped his shoulder and delivered a dangerous ball in that was dealt with by Ibrahima Sonko. This pattern of play continued with Leeds attacking but to no avail as their final ball was consistently letting them down and a lack of passion in the middle of the park was costing them possession on numerous occasions. Leeds' only chance of the first half came on 27 minutes when loanee Delph cracked a shot against Alan Drury.

Leeds' lack of conviction in front of goal was punished on 34 minutes when a Lee Martin short corner wasn't dealt with and Alan Drury drilled the ball at Andy Lonergan, with it somehow creeping through the Leeds skippers grasp and into the back of the net, with the bemusement and frustration of the 22,000 Leeds fans inside the ground evident to see.

So at half time Leeds were subjected to boo's aplenty as the fans once again turned on the man at the top of the proverbial pyramid with more calls for the head of the ex Chelsea owner.

As the teams came out for the second half they were greeted by a muted fan reception as even the kop seemed off song, and the subdued atmosphere transpired on the pitch with neither side capable of gaining control of the match, to the mass frustration of the Leeds faithful.

Yet on the hour mark Grayson made a drastic double change. The disappointing Andros Townsend was replaced by Aidy White whilst the poor Mikael Forssell was replaced by fan favourite Luciano Becchio. And this change proved to be crucial to the game with Becchios flick on leading to Ibrahima Sonko having to head back to his goalkeeper after pressure from McCormack, but with the header too powerful it caught McCarthy by surprise who dived to his right to pluck it out the air. However he had strayed out of his area and with the hostile Leeds crowd screaming for a card, referee Geoff Eltringham produced red that would inevitably change the game. As McCarthy took his marching orders he was greeted by “You're Leeds and you know you are” as the former hero seemingly re-established that title.

This would ultimately change the game with this moment meaning substitute and virtual unknown goalkeeper Arran Lee-Barrett having to come on between the sticks. The sending off gave Leeds the chance to retake control of the game and this they did constantly, until pressure finally forced Ipswich to cave on 74 minutes. Aidan White caused the problems down the left side before crossing to Becchio who threaded the ball through to the onside Robert Snodgrass who turned and tucked home under the substitute goalkeeper.
Ipswich then went into self-destruct mode as they began to cause their own problems this time through a good United move. Dynamic midfielder Adam Clayton burst down the right before finding McCormack who took advantage of a nervous Lee-Barrett who struggled to decide on what to do. McCormack slotted it beneath the keeper to bag his 12th goal of the season.

And in the 90th minute Leeds were home and dry after another mistake from the side from Norfolk. A route one punt downfield by Lonergan was met by Becchio, who's touch was slightly heavy yet wasn't dealt with by Tommy Smith or the dithering Ipswich stopper who flew out then retracted giving the Leeds striker the easiest of tasks of slotting it past the wayward goalkeeper.

This result seems to have kept Simon Grayson in a job for another week at least and will send the fans home happy whilst Ipswich fans will have to go home hoping for better as their side continues to flirt dangerously with the relegation zone.

Attendance 22,844

Deaton's MOM = Robert Snodgrass - The Talismanic winger was at the centre of every Leeds move and was a constant threat to the fragile Ipswich
Jack Deaton
I'm an 18 year old student currently studying for a degree in Broadcast Journalism. My aim is to become either a football writer or a football commentator.

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