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Match Report: Leeds United 1-1 West Ham United (Leeds Fan's Perspective)

Sunday 18th March 2012
Leeds United have experienced something of a boost since the introduction of Neil Warnock last month. Having said that, one win in four games isn't the sort of record a promotion chasing team should settle for. Unfortunately, league wins don't come much trickier to find than against West Ham United.

Despite earning a last minute point against the Hammers at the start of the season thanks to a last gasp equaliser from Adam Clayton, Leeds have dropped out of the playoffs, while West Ham remain in contention for the title. A crowd of over 33,000 people attended Elland Road to show their support.

Warnock named an unchanged starting lineup from the side that impressed last weekend with a 2-0 away win at Middlesbrough. Aidan White, who was arguably man of the match last week, was able to play on the wing once more thanks to Paul Robinson, who has settled extremely well since his loan from Bolton. Ross McCormack and Luciano Becchio once again made up the front line, with captain Robert Snodgrass providing support from the wings.

Leeds fans were expecting a tough game, and that's exactly what they got. Chances for both sides were few and far between as the two defences were able to comfortably suppress their opposition attackers for long periods. The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors, when Nicky Maynard managed to break through the Leeds back line only to be beaten to the rolling ball by Andy Lonergan following a heavy first touch.

The home side thought they had taken the lead when Snodgrass slotted home, only to have his goal disallowed because of an alleged foul from Becchio off the ball. Both defences were extremely firm for most of the first half, and genuine chances were at a real premium.

West Ham thought they had won a penalty when the ball struck Michael Brown's arm inside the box, but the referee deemed it an instance of ball to hand, and chose not to penalise. The first half ended 0-0, with the home fans perhaps feeling hard done by.

The second half was more entertaining than the first, with more genuine chances from both sides. A Snodgrass free-kick gave Robert Green his first scare of the match, only for the shot to sail past his far post.

Leeds' first real chance on target came in the 70th minute when Paul Connolly rose in the box to fire a powerful header towards the West Ham goal. His header was excellently saved by Green, his first save of the match.

Leeds have developed a reputation for scoring late, crucial goals, so the home fans understandably expected a breakthrough when the match entered the final ten minutes. They got what they were looking for when a Robert Snodgrass cross was met by Connolly once again. The defender's header crashed off the crossbar into the path of Becchio, who headed past Green to make it 1-0 with his second goal in two games.

Leeds' reputation for late winners has become so well recognised that nobody expected West Ham to spoil the party. That's exactly what happened though, when Danny Collins beat Andy Lonergan from close range with a header from Mark Noble's 90th minute corner.

Warnock, and everyone at Leeds, would be understandably frustrated with the result. A win against arguably the league's most feared side doesn't come too often, and it proved to be a little too much to ask. Nevertheless, Leeds are now unbeaten in three, including points against two teams inside the top six. Leeds have only conceded two goals in their last five games, which include games against arguably the two strongest attacking sides in the league, Southampton and West Ham.

Nobody wants to have a win snatched away from them in the last minute, but the elusive playoffs are still in sight for Warnock's Leeds. With nine games to go, anything is possible.

Leeds United : Lonergan, Robinson, Lees, O'Dea, Connolly, Brown, Clayton, White (Webber 76), Snodgrass, Becchio, McCormack (Forssell 76). Unused subs: Thompson, Pugh, Nunez.

West Ham United: Green, McCartney, Tomkins (O'Neil 46), Faye, O'Brien, Collins, Nolan, Collison (Morrison 81), Taylor, Noble, Maynard (Cole 56). Unused subs: Henderson, Baldock.

Attendance: 33,366
Tom Fletcher

Total articles: 13

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