Leeds v Boro, The Verdict
17 Aug 2014 02:47pm, by YorkshireSquare
It was pretty clear from the opening day of the season when Leeds struggled against Millwall that the squad would require further strengthening. To Cellino’s credit he went out and brought in reinforcements in the intervening week and a stronger Leeds team faced Middlesbrough in the first league game at Elland Road of the season on Saturday.
New boy Liam Cooper lined-up alongside Pearce in the centre of defence and certainly looked more solid than what he had replaced. He may have to reign in his runs out from defence though as at this level he may get caught out more than he was used to in League Two. It nearly wasn’t such a great debut though when he flicked the ball on to Adomah who kicked the ball overhead into the back of the net only to see the goal ruled out for a high foot on Stephen Warnock. It was probably a harsh decision to disallow the goal but it was an early let off for both Leeds and Cooper.
It’s fair to say that Middlesbrough had the best of the first half, particularly in the first twenty minutes but Leeds did pull themselves back into the game and had more of the ball in the second half. We looked a lot more assured at the back and when you keep a clean sheet you always have a chance to nick a victory, particularly when Billy Sharp is on the pitch. Sharp worked hard all game and on 87 minutes he got the chance to make it a dream debut. Substitutes combined as Poleon knocked down the ball to Michael Tonge who unleashed a shot that Osorio was unable to hold onto and Sharp duly slotted the ball home for his first goal on debut.
Middlesbrough were always going to be a tough team to play and we rode our luck somewhat but in what was a fairly workmanlike performance we snatched the three points. Here are the views of some of our members;
The views of 1964white;
A very tight game against a strong, organised, well-disciplined Middlesbrough side. A team of players who have been building their squad over the last couple of season whereas Leeds are in a transitional period with new players bedding in. Both Cooper & Sharp did very well after only arriving at Elland Road on Thursday. Our pool of players put in ten times the commitment and effort than last seasons lot. We look fitter & showed plenty of spirit in our desire to win the game.
Clean sheets mean you are always in the game. Most games are generally won by a mistake as showed with the Middlesbrough goalkeepers failure to hold onto the ball which made it chicken feed for our new striker hero who was always going to hit the back of the net as soon as the opportunity arose. Time will tell how our new players adapt in the championship but I can see grassroots which in time will grow & develop, at last there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The views of Genghers;
I think there are a lot of positives surrounding our play and with more time together this team should get better and better. People have been a bit harsh on Austin but I thought had an excellent first half and when he wins it then plays the ball short to one of the better ball players like Murphy and Bianchi, he shows his usefulness. Ran himself ragged too, Cook replacing him when he couldn't keep going.
Murphy had a poor game for the most part, still needs to justify the money after a season of 'bedding in'. Although he improved in the second half, Byram wasn't great either - decent going forward, but suspect at the back.
Really impressed with how quickly Cooper and Sharp have settled into the squad. Didn't think Cooper's distribution was too bad - certainly less of a hoofer than Lees - but needs to reign in those runs if he's going to lose it on the half way line! Sharp never stopped running and got the goal he deserved.
The views of theleedsmango;
While the defence has improved, I still feel we rely on too much last-ditch efforts (although we are brilliant at that). Hopefully with a consistent(ish) back four, they'll gel together. Was pretty much last season's defence only with Cooper an improvement over Wootton - and with Byram being the worst of the four, hopefully when he steps it up we'll have a good back four with decent backup in all positions. I would have started Bellusci above Cooper today, had the clearance been in place, but I would now think Bellusci has to fight his way into the team. Think Warnock deserved man of the match although it was a sterling debut from Sharp.
If you were to make a video entitled "How to become a cult hero in under 90 minutes", Sharp could feature. It's not just his goal (which whilst a tap in, demonstrated his predator instincts) but also that he put a brilliant shift in. You could feel he wanted to impress the crowd and wasn't at all intimidated by the astute pressure.
Also, kudos to Hockaday. The delusional twitter users wanted to see Taylor on, they didn't want Warnock. They didn't want Tonge or Austin, just a complete new team of signings. Warnock was on fire, Austin made some great tackles by joining in defence and marked Kike out of the game. We were overrun in midfield and bringing Tonge on was a great decision to balance the game out (and hey, the shot that led to the goal made it an even better, if not flukier, decision). Bringing Tonge on won us a point in that game and Hockaday should be credited. Sharps instincts snatched us another two.
Leeds United Line-up:
Silvestri, Byram, Cooper, Pearce, Warnock, Murphy, Austin (Cook 86), Bianchi, Ajose (Poleon 75), Sharp, Doukara (Tonge 53)
Unused Subs: S Taylor, C Taylor, Wootton, Smith
Mejias, Abella, Friend, Ayala, Leadbitter, Kike, Tomlin (Williams 85), Whitehead (Clayton 60), Reach (Nsue 75), Omeruo, Adomah
Unused Subs: Konstantopoulos, Husband, Fewster, Woodgate
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