December Newsletter: Well I think December was a pretty damn good month for us. Only 1 defeat, to the current leaders, and still lying in the play- off places after playing some of the better teams in the league. Great start to the New Year is required and getting some signatures on contracts to tie up our “Loanee’s” will be a massive boost. And also the small matter of having 2 Italian owners now instead of 1. I’m a bit sceptical about it all after all our failings with recent Takeovers, but who knows this might be the one!!!!! Anyhow on to the match reports:
Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 Leeds United MIDFIELDER Kalvin Phillips saw red as Leeds United’s impressive ascent up the Championship was brought to a halt at new leaders Brighton in Friday night’s 2-0 defeat at The Amex. After Brighton came flying out of the traps at their home fortress, Leeds were reduced to ten men in the 23rd minute when Phillips was sent off for preventing a certain Brighton goal with his arm. Glenn Murray easily converted the penalty and only lapse finishing and a smart saves by Rob Green denied Brighton and Murray in particular a second. But there was no denying the Seagulls a second goal in the 82nd minute which also arrived from the penalty spot as Kyle Bartley was penalised for pulling Lewis Dunk’s shirt, allowing Tomer Hemed to slam home from 12 yards. Leeds approached the game following a superb nine league wins from their last 13 games and knew another victory would have taken them third.
But among the backdrop of Chairman Massimo Cellino’s upcoming 18-month ban and amidst interest in the club from Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani, the Whites remain fourth ahead of Saturday’s games, the results of which could leave the Whites outside of the play-offs. Brighton started with a high intensity to their game but a third-minute cross from Oliver Norwood went flying wide and ended a spell of early pressure. At the other end, a raking left flank cross from Charlie Taylor dropped just over the head of Chris Wood in front of the 2,736 travelling Leeds fans in the away end. But Brighton posed the first real sense of danger in the 11th minute when Jamie Murphy did Luke Ayling for pace as he approached the penalty box and Ayling was booked for hauling his opposite man down. Oliver Norwood stepped up to take the free-kick on the edge of the area and curled in a fine delivery that flew inches over an unmarked Shane Duffy at close range. Then, after Hadi Sacko tripped Murphy in a similar position but slightly further out, Norwood delivered an almost identical free-kick delivery to his previous attempt which also went narrowly wide. Brighton had their tails up and Pontus Jansson then became the second Whites player to be booked in the 19th minute after a foul on Murray. But just three minutes later it was the card of a different colour handed to Leeds as midfielder Phillips was sent off for handball. A dangerous Brighton corner reached Lewis Dunk at the far post and his flick was heading for the back of the net but kept out by a diving Phillips and his outstretched arm. Referee Paul Tierney had no choice but to give Phillips his marching orders and award Brighton a 23rdminute penalty from which Murray coolly sent Green the wrong way. Whites head coach Garry Monk reacted by sending Souleymane Doukara into a more defensive role alongside Ronaldo Vieira in midfield but Brighton continued to dominate, with Kyle Bartley forced to block a Sam Baldock shot before Murray - who was earlier booked - then hit the side netting in search of his and Brighton’s second. But the Whites were presented with half a chance in the first minute of first half injury time when Hadi Sacko’s low drive found Chris Wood free in the area. Wood, though, got his feet in a tangle and the opportunity went begging as the ball flew past the forward and wide. Then, in the third and final minute of first half added injury time, it was Brighton who went agonisingly close to bagging a second when Murphy again skinned Ayling before pulling the ball back to Murray whose rising effort was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Green.
Monk then brought on Matt Grimes for Sacko during the half time break but after a quiet opening ten minutes Brighton were only denied a second when Green produced a smart low save to keep out a stinging drive from Murphy who then headed wide moments later. The Seagulls then had the ball in the net from a 70th-minute corner from which Duffy had the last touch but the effort was ruled offside. Monk then brought on Dallas for Doukara but Brighton looked to be cruising and Duffy put a free header straight at Green in the 80th minute. And just three minutes later the hosts finally bagged their second and again through a penalty as Bartley pulled Dunk’s shirt in the area. Six minutes after coming on for Murray, Hemed this time converted to double the home side’s lead and wrap up a game that in truth looked over from the 23rd minute. Leeds United: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson (Cooper 88), Taylor, Vieira, Phillips, Sacko (Grimes 45), Roofe, Doukara (Dallas 71), Wood. Subs not used: Silvestri, Berardi, Mowatt, Antonsson. Attendance: 28,206 (2,736 Leeds).
Leeds United 2-0 Reading Leeds closed the gap on promotion rivals Reading thanks to goals from Chris Wood and Souleymane Doukara in a 2-0 win at Elland Road. These two sides have designs on the play-offs at least this season and Reading started the night five points and three places better off than Leeds in third. But a predatory strike from Wood and Doukara's penalty ensured the points went to Garry Monk's men on a night when Reading put up a baffling display which saw them happy to keep the ball among themselves until the game entered the final 20 minutes. They pressed Leeds hard during that spell but rarely got a clear sight of Rob Green's goal and now head a play-off pack which is becoming increasingly bunched up. One worry for Monk as he plots to stay in that group, though, will be that Wood, who has scored 11 of Leeds' 25 league goals this season, limped off shortly after his strike. Looking to atone for their loss at Brighton on Friday Leeds were the first to show their hand, Kemar Roofe snatching at a good chance when well sat after clever work from Hadi Sacko. Reading were struggling to deal with Sacko's trickery and a wicked cross from him narrowly evaded Wood. The Royals' first real venture forward came 18 minutes in and nearly brought them a goal. Dominic Samuel skinned Pontus Jansson and cut back to a queue of waiting attackers with an open goal, only for Kyle Bartley to beat them all to it and clear. Bartley's intervention proved divine a minute later. Leeds proceeded down the other end and, after Reading failed to react when Sacko's drilled shot fell on the edge of the six-yard box, Wood cracked in a 14th of the season. It would be the Kiwi's last meaningful act, though, as on the half-hour he went off injured, forcing Leeds to bring captain Liam Bridcutt off the bench after three months out.
Reading's attacking intent was so minimal that they were booed by the home fans, passing the ball between themselves at the back for a 77 per cent interval share but no tangible reward. Jaap Stam's men started the second half with more intent, Liam Kelly hitting wide, but Leeds would have been 2-0 up had Doukara connected better with Sacko's cross. Reading continued to keep the ball at the back, a puzzling tactic given the state of the game, while it took a Charlie Taylor error to give them a chance. Taylor's back pass was errant and Roy Beerens got in, with his drive tipped over by Green. Stam's men did start to offer more, though, with Green doing well to push away a Yann Kermorgant header. But it was Leeds who finished on top, Doukara ramming home an injury-time penalty after Taylor was felled.
Leeds United 1-0 Brentford LEEDS United recorded their seventh win from their last nine league games at Elland Road as Kyle Bartley's 89th-minute header saw off Brentford by a single goal. A dull first half passed without much incident but Leeds bombarded the Bees after the break and finally made the breakthrough with one minute left. The win elevated the Whites up a place into fifth, above Derby County who drew 2-2 at Fulham. A very quiet opening ten minutes saw Brentford's top scorer Scott Hogan show pace to burst to the byline but his cross sailed out of play. At the other end, a left flank delivery from Stuart Dallas also failed to find the desired target. After good work from Souleymane Doukara and Hadi Sacko earned Leeds their first corner, Charlie Taylor and Sacko then worked the ball to Dallas who fired a 15th-minute effort over the bar. Brentford's first attempt arrived in the 17th minute when a weak shot from Lasse Vibe in a good position was easily saved by Rob Green. The Bees again threatened three minutes later when Tom Field's cross was headed goal wards by a diving Hogan but Green was equal to the task. Brentford then scrambled away a cross from Doukara but the Bees were looking slightly more threatening and went close in the 23rd minute when Nico Yannaris worked some space on the edge of the area but saw his shot deflected just wide. After another quiet ten minutes, Harlee Dean's long range effort was easily saved by Green but Romaine Sawyers was presented with a better opportunity soon after but wastefully fired over and wide. The Bees then found the net in the 42nd-minute as Hogan bundled an indirect free-kick over the line but the striker was clearly offside. Leeds hit back by going their closest yet in the 43rd minute when Kemar Roofe's shot was deflected just wide but in truth there was little to shout about in a pretty dull first half. Brentford then began the second half on the front foot and after Hogan went down in the area looking for penalty, a free-kick from Woods skipped off the head of Pontus Jansson and fizzed wide. Kyle Bartley was then booked for tripping the pacy Hogan in the 53rd minute and a few minutes later John Egan put a free header just wide. Leeds were struggling to get going and Whites head coach Garry Monk then brought on Gaetano Berardi for Charlie Taylor who looked to have picked up a knock in the first half. But Leeds were then presented with a fine chance to take the lead shortly after the hour mark when a Dallas corner found Ayling inside the area but the full back lashed a wild effort over the crossbar. The Whites were gradually turning up the heat and United then squandered an even better chance in the 67th minute when Dallas played in Doukara one-on-one but the striker rolled a low effort from the left side of goal just wide of the right hand post. The Brentford goal was beginning to live a charmed life and Ayling then squandered another fine chance in the 71st minute when firing just wide from inside the area after great work from Sacko to keep the ball in play.
Monk then brought on Liam Bridcutt for Phillips with 18 minutes left, shortly after Egan had crunched into Roofe to receive a yellow card when home fans were baying for a red. With just over ten minutes left, Monk then made his final change in bringing on Marcus Antonsson for Doukara. From a rare Brentford attack, Ayling then turned a dangerous cross behind for a corner in the 81st minute. But Leeds continued to pile on the pressure and fine work from Sacko earned the Whites an 89th-minute corner. And it was from that 89th-minute set piece that United finally broke the deadlock as Kyle Bartley rose highest to head home in front of a delighted Kop. Leeds then had to see out four minutes of added time and Brentford came within a whisker of bagging a 94th-minute leveler when Josh McEachran's overhead kick clipped the crossbar. But Bartley's header had ultimately won the day, giving Leeds the perfect early Christmas present. Leeds United: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor (Berardi 58), Vieira, Phillips (Bridcutt 72), Sacko, Roofe, Dallas, Doukara (Antonsson 79). Subs not used: Silvestri, Cooper, Grimes, Mowatt. Attendance: 25,134.
Preston North End 1-4 Leeds United LEEDS United bagged their eighth win from their last ten league games as former striker Jermaine Beckford saw red in a remarkable and breathless 4-1 triumph at Boxing Day’s Championship hosts Preston North End. After Kemar Roofe had headed the Whites into a 17th-minute lead, Hadi Sacko doubled the Leeds advantage with a clinical second goal just six minutes later. Preston immediately hit back to reduce the deficit through Marnick Vermijl four minutes afterwards but United restored their two goal cushion within just four minutes when a low shot from Souleymane Doukara beat ‘keeper Chris Maxwell and trickled over the line. There was then further drama after the break as Preston’s Beckford was shown a straight red card against his former side just three minutes after coming on for kicking out at Kyle Bartley. Preston were left with an impossible task and United put the gloss on a truly memorable away day when substitute Pablo Hernandez fired home with two minutes left. Ironically, a whirlwind contest passed without a single chance being created in the first 15 minutes. But two minutes later United took a 17th-minute lead after Preston conceded a free-kick on the right hand touch line. Stuart Dallas stepped up to deliver an inviting delivery which was met by Pontus Jansson whose header looped over ‘keeper Maxwell and found Roofe who had the easy task of nodding home into an empty net. A stunned Preston looked to immediately rally and an effort from Callum Robinson had to be dealt with by Whites custodian Rob Green.
But just five minutes later Preston ‘keeper Maxwell was picking the ball out of his net for a second time after Sacko’s 23rd minute effort doubled United’s lead. A superb through ball from Roofe found Sacko with acres of space in the Preston area and the winger killed North End for pace before producing a strong rising finish into the roof of the net. For Leeds, Christmas had been extended by an extra day but Preston then hit back to net the game’s third goal just three minutes later. A cross into a crowded United area was knocked down by Makienok to Vermijl who blasted the ball past a helpless Green from close range. But incredibly Leeds then hit straight back to bag a sensational game’s fourth goal just another four minutes later. This time it was Doukara getting on the act as the striker broke away down the left side and unleashed a low effort at Maxwell who should have saved the shot but allowed the ball to creep under him and trickle over the goal line. There was barely time to pause for breath and Preston threatened to bag the game’s fifth goal seven minutes before the break but instead Daniel Johnson fired a wild effort over the bar. A header from Makienok then trickled wide before Kalvin Phillips picked up the game’s first booking for a late challenge but Preston wasted the free kick as Vermijl sliced an effort wide. And it was Leeds who should have netted the game’s fifth goal in the second minute of first half injury time when Liam Bridcutt stormed his way to the edge of the Preston box before feeding Roofe who put too much lift on his shot and blazed over. Preston then came flying out of the traps after the break and Leeds survived claims for a North End penalty for Roofe handballing. Roofe then blocked a dangerous low effort from Ben Pearson before Kyle Bartley became the second Leeds player to be booked for a sliding foul. Whites head coach Garry Monk then made his first change in bringing on Pablo Hernandez for Sacko, nine minutes after the restart. But Preston continued to bombard the Whites goal and Green had to produce a brave save at the feet of Alan Browne before Callum Robinson fired another effort just wide on the hour mark. Preston’s Beckford then entered the fray six minutes later as part of a double Lilywhites change, with the striker given a heroic welcome by the away end against his former side.But within four minutes of coming on Beckford was sent off after colliding with Luke Ayling and then kicking out at Bartley with raised studs. Preston’s task now looked hopeless, especially with Monk bringing on top scorer Chris Wood for Doukara with 15 minutes left, shortly after Roofe had blazed a powerful effort narrowly over the bar.But Leeds always looked likely to bag a fourth and did exactly that with two minutes left when Hernandez was afforded far too much space in the Preston box and kept his head before slotting home from close range. Leeds United: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, Phillips, Bridcutt, Sacko (Hernandez 54), Roofe (Antonsson 80), Dallas, Doukara (Wood 75). Subs not used: Silvestri, Denton, Cooper, Vieira. Attendance: 21,255.
Aston Villa 1-1 Leeds United LEEDS United were twice denied by the crossbar as Jonathan Kodjia’s 86th-minute penalty denied the Whites a ninth win in 11 league games in a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa. After a goalless first half, Pontus Jansson’s bullet header gave United a 54th-minute lead and the Swede then volleyed a thunderous effort against the bar just one minute later. Villa were then awarded an 86th minute penalty when Liam Cooper handballed in the area and Jonathan Kodjia smashed home the spot kick to draw the hosts level. But United were again denied by the woodwork just two minutes later when Hadi Sacko’s effort deflected on to the bar and dropped into the six-yard box before being hacked away to safety. Villa made a ferocious start and Leeds were let off the hook in the second minute when an awful back pass from Kalvin Phillips let in Jonathan Kodjia but Pontus Jansson saved the day with a sliding tackle.Then, just four minutes later, Phillips again lost possession to Kodjia whose shot from 20 yards drew a fantastic one-handed save from Rob Green. The closest Leeds came in the early stages was when a 17th-minute cross from Stuart Dallas sailed wide to a few gasps from the Villa Park crowd. The Leeds away end then looked on in anguish when Jansson went down injured in the 19th minute but the Swedish centre-back soldiered on after receiving treatment. Leeds briefly looked threatening when Souleymane Doukara played a nice one-two with Hadi Sacko but Villa again twice went close in the 32nd minute. First Jordan Ayew’s free-kick was tipped just over the bar by an in-form Green and from the following corner a header from James Chester looped just wide. But Leeds then began to threaten themselves including twice from Hadi Sacko with two crosses from good positions on the right wing both scrambled away by Villa’s defence. But it was United’s turn to scramble a chance away in the second minute of first half injury time when Kodjia’s cross from the byline was crucially flicked away by Luke Ayling. At the other end, a speculative effort from Dallas flew over the bar and that was the signal for half time. Neither side made any changes during the half time break but Villa then lost Jack Grealish to injury four minutes after the interval which paved the way for Ross McCormack to come on against his former side. McCormack almost made an immediate impression as his stinging low shot was parried away by Green. But just two minutes later United took the lead when Sacko’s run down the right flank earned Leeds a corner taken by Stuart Dallas. The winger’s inviting delivery found the head of Jannson whose powerful effort contained too much gusto for ‘keeper Mark Bunn and crept into the net to give United a 1-0 lead. Villa were left stunned but Leeds went for the jugular and just one minute later another fine attack down the right wing, this time from Roofe, earned Leeds another right-sided corner. Dallas again found Jansson who unleashed a fierce volley that smacked the crossbar before heading over.
Villa were on the ropes but after Phillips dragged a chance wide just after the hour mark, Green needed to show strong hands to beat away a goal bound shot from Kodjia in the 67th minute. At the other end, a chip from substitute Pablo Hernandez, on as a 57th-minute substitute for Dallas, dropped just over the crossbar in the 74th minute. For Villa, a 20-yard effort from Ayew flew wide of Green’s post but a better chance was presented to Leeds with 12 minutes to go when Sacko raced through but opted to shoot and saw his effort smothered when he could have squared to Chris Wood, introduced for Roofe in the 69th minute. Leeds were on the cusp of another memorable victory but Villa continued to pummel balls into the Whites box and in the 85th minute one such delivery was met by Liam Cooper’s hand. After much deliberation, Villa were awarded a penalty and Kodjia clinically beat Green by slamming the ball home down the left hand side. But Leeds were then again denied by the crossbar just two minutes later when Sacko was presented with a one on one and saw his effort deflected on to the woodwork, with the ball then dropping into the six yard box before being hacked away to safety. At the other end, as part of a frantic finish, Green made another fine save to deny Kodjia his second. Villa then scrambled away a Leeds corner in the first minute of added on time and the game ended with the home side attacking looking to nick a cruel victory but honours were left even as Leeds moved fourth in their final game of 2016. Leeds United: Green, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Berardi, Phillips, Bridcutt (Vieira 82), Sacko, Roofe (Wood 69), Dallas (Hernandez 57), Doukara. Subs no: Silvestri, Denton, Mowatt, Antonsson. Attendance: 37,078.
Leeds United 3-0 Rotherham United LEEDS United began the New Year with yet another three-point haul as a Chris Wood double and Kyle Bartley header brushed aside bottom of the Championship Rotherham United 3-0 at Elland Road. After a disappointing first half, Leeds took just two minutes to take the lead after the interval when Bartley powered home a header from a Pablo Hernandez corner. United then doubled their lead six minutes after the hour when top scorer Wood blasted home his 15th goal of the season with a delicious volley. And 15 goals for the campaign quickly became 16 in the 79th minute when the New Zealand international was picked out by a fine cross from Kemar Roofe and confidently slotted home his second and United’s third. Wins for Reading and Huddersfield Town meant United stayed fifth but the thriving Whites are now only seven points behind second-placed Newcastle United who lost 1-0 at Blackburn Rovers.
Whites head coach Garry Monk named an extremely attacking line up with Chris Wood, Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez, Souleymane Doukara and Hadi Sacko all starting in a 4-1-3-2. But it was Rotherham who went extremely close to scoring in the seventh minute from a free-kick awarded for Liam Bridcutt’s foul on Izzy Brown on the edge of the box. Anthony Forde stepped up to take the set piece and his curling effort was tipped away by Rob Green but only into the path of Tom Adeyemi who struck the post before Leeds cleared. The Whites survived the early scare and began to build some pressure themselves but a right flank attack through Hadi Sacko and a Pablo Hernandez corner was easily dealt with by the Millers. United’s first proper attempt on goal then arrived in the 19th minute when Doukara fed Hernandez whose low shot from the edge of the area rolled harmlessly wide. United continued to probe away but Rotherham looked a threat on the counter and Lee Frecklington’s heavy touch ended a potential opening from Danny Ward’s pass in the 26th minute. Green then turned a low effort from Ward behind for a 33rd-minute corner which was cleared and the Millers then squandered a fine chance three minutes later when Brown blazed an effort over the bar after Darnell Fisher’s pass found him free in the Whites penalty box. The returning Kyle Bartley then made a crucial tackle to deny Joe Newell on the edge of the area. Bartley again saved the day two minutes before the break when heading a dangerous cross from Ward behind for a corner from which another dangerous delivery from Forde evaded every Millers man in the area. Leeds were struggling to get going and Doukara’s wild effort from 25 yards that sailed high and wide was the best it got. United were lucky to enter the half-time break level and Monk opted to bring on Ronaldo Vieira for Hadi Sacko during the interval. And within three minutes of the restart United took the lead with when a 47thminute corner from Hernandez was met by Bartley whose powerful header beat Lewis Price all ends up and whistled into the back of the net. The goal was harsh on Rotherham given their first half showing but the Millers were almost 2-0 down just nine minutes later. A superb reverse pass from Hernandez released Roofe - now playing on the right wing - and Roofe’s fine low cross narrowly failed to find Wood who attempted to slide the ball in from close range. Rotherham hit back with two half chances of their own just after the hour but Joe Mattock’s long shot was deflected wide for a corner from which Adeyemi headed weakly at Green. But six minutes later Rotherham found themselves two goals down after a clinical close range finish from Wood. A fine right wing delivery from Liam Bridcutt found the striker in the middle of the area and Wood beautifully controlled the ball before unleashing an unstoppable volley past Price. Wood then almost doubled his tally five minutes later but his close range effort after fine work from Doukara was blocked. Doukara was then substituted for Stuart Dallas with 16 minutes remaining and left the pitch to huge applause. Rotherham then squandered another half chance when Adeyemi fired a poor shot over the bar and Leeds were then denied a third through an unlikely source in the 77th minute when Gaetano Berardi burst clear but saw his low effort cannon back off the post. But there was no denying the Whites a third goal two minutes later when Roofe’s fine cross from the right wing found an unmarked Wood who tapped the ball home for his 16th goal of the campaign.
Wood was then substituted and left the field to a standing ovation as Marcus Antonsson was introduced in the 82nd minute. Leeds were home and hosed but still went in search of a fourth goal and were only denied another improvement to their goal difference when a 20-yard free-kick from Hernandez clipped the post in the 89th minute. Leeds United: Green Ayling, Jansson, Bartley, Berardi, Bridcutt, Hernandez, Sacko (Vieira 45), Roofe, Doukara (Dallas 74), Wood (Antonsson 82). Subs not used: Silvestri, Denton, Cooper, Phillips. Attendance: 33,397.
DW’s News Huge congratulations to 2 of our Dubai based members, Dave (Coney McConeface) and Beccy, who got rd married in York on 23 December. Here’s to many happy years together. Coney (as he will always now be referred to) was lucky enough to take on the half time penalty shootout at the Brentford game although failing miserably with 1 out of 3 he certainly has had his 15 minutes of fame.
Upcoming Games in January th
Monday 9 – FA CUP - Cambridge United (A) BeIn Sports 11HD KO 23.45 th
Friday 13 – Championship – Derby County (H) Sky Sports 1 KO 23.45 st
Saturday 21 – Championship – Barnsley (A) Sky Sports 1 KO 21.30 th
Saturday 28 - Championship – Notts Forest (H) KO 19.00 The games that are shown on Sky Sports will most likely be on BeIn Sports. I will confirm once I know for definite.