Leeds United 0 Blackburn 1

Last updated : 14 April 2024 By David Watkins

13th April, 2024, EFL Championship.

Oh dear! Only Leeds could manage this. Playing a side with only one win in 13, the side that had conceded more goals than any other, a side we comfortably beat on their own patch not that long ago, and with an unbeaten home run ourselves, we couldn’t do our own business well enough.

The incentive was huge, having seen Leicester lose just hours earlier and knowing Ipswich had a tricky game against Middlesbrough, it felt everything was in place for a convincing victory that would finally turn  this never ending chase for promotion in our favour.

The performance though bore so many similarities with the Sunderland game – total domination but a marked failure to come up with a clinical finish. The Blackburn keeper kept up the record of a long run of visiting keepers to play the game of his life too – keeping out a whipped Summerville free kick and Gnonto’s fierce follow-up strike early in the game and a carefully aimed left footer from Conor Roberts too. He was also masterful in time-wasting and allowed to do it by another weak referee. At the other end, Meslier was a virtual spectator for most of the time but did do well to save low to his left from a decent shot by the danger man Szmodics. It was a nervy 0 – 0 at the break.

The second half continued in the same vein, although Blackburn had the first decent effort as Szmodics fired a right foot shot that looked destined to be smuggled in at the back post until Conor Roberts somehow contorted himself and got the ball away from the Blackburn man lurking there.  After that. The annoying Rovers’ keeper, Aynsley Pears got lucky when he saved a Georginio shot but as the ball got away it rebounded back off Willy Gnonto straight into his grateful arms. Dan James cut inside and fired a left-footer that beat the post and Willy Gnonto who was sliding in, and then Patrick Bamford had his regular miss; getting himself in the clear six yards out but then fluffing his header and seeing the ball fly over the bar off his shoulder. Bamford had another half chance at the near post in front of the Kop but seemed more intent on winning a penalty than trying to get his head to a low bouncing ball. Leeds dominated the possession to the tune of 75 percent and managed 19 goal attempts to just a paltry three from the visitors, in fact the stats were very similar to those from the Sunderland game. But Rovers had Sammie Szmodics and we didn’t and it was the classic sucker punch goal that did for us in the final ten minutes.

Leeds had gone for broke with a variety of attacking substitutions but, in the process, we forgot Daniel Farke’s first law of getting promoted; If you can’t win a game, whatever you do, make sure you don’t lose it.  A simple clearance up-field found a Blackburn head and ran onto Tyrhys Dolan on the right and he spotted Sammie Szmodics clear on the left, no Leeds defender anywhere near one of the most dangerous strikers in the Championship. He provided the clinical finish countless Leeds’ forwards had been unable to find all afternoon.

This Championship run-in for Leeds has started to feel like death by a thousand cuts as we continue to spurn good opportunities to capitalise on the mistakes made by both Leicester and Ipswich and so it was again today. A Luke Ayling assist gave Middlesbrough the lead at Ipswich but they eventually grabbed a point that has just inched them two points clear of Leeds again, while the Foxes have that game in hand and a point advantage over us.

Somehow, you can scrutinize the current table and the upcoming final few fixtures for the main protagonists and you can still see, with only a little imagination, a path through for Leeds to take one of those automatic promotion spots but the real worry is that every team we have left to face has something to play for. As with Blackburn today, you’d expect them to play a defensive, eleven man behind the ball sort of a game that we are finding it hard to break down. As Daniel Farke said today, "It's up to me if we don't score - to find solutions. I have to work with them so that in the next game we create more chances." Well, yes, but it would help if we could find a clinical finish or two as well! Oh, and while we are at it, how about spending some time on corners - 25 in the last two games and I can't remember a single chance coming from any of them! 

It’s far from over, but the worry for me is that, if it is to be the dreaded play-offs, will we find our form and our goal-scoring touch in time to be competitive in them? Before that though, let’s win the next three and see where it gets us.



Sky Bet Championship 

Leeds United 0

Blackburn Rovers 1 (Szmodics 82’)

Leeds: Meslier (GK), Firpo (Anthony 88’), Ampadu (C), Piroe, Summerville, Rodon, Gray, Georginio (James 67’), Gnonto (Joseph 80’), Roberts (Byram 67’), Gruev (Bamford 67’). Subs not used: Darlow (GK), Cooper, Kamara, Gelhardt.

Rovers: Pears (GK), Brittain, Pickering, Hyam (C), Tronstad, Szmodics (Telalovic 95’), Gallagher, Dolan (Chrisene 84’), Rankin-Costello, Wharton (McFadzean 45’), Carter. Subs not used: Wahlstedt (GK), Koumetio, Markanday, Buckley, Gilsenan, Garrett. 

Referee: James Bell

Booked: Joseph (Leeds) Carter, Dolan, Tronstad, Pears (Rovers) 

Venue: Elland Road

Attendance: 36,518