7th October, 2023, EFL Championship.
Check out David's website for updates and details on his many books on Leeds United; David Watkins (davidwatkinslufc.com)
A terrific result to end this latest sequence of six fixtures and to leave us nicely placed near the top of the pack of clubs chasing the two at the top – Leicester and Ipswich. Not the perfect performance by any means – too many chances missed and that sloppy goal we conceded before halftime marred that – but another workmanlike effort where, yet again, we were miles better than the opposition.
The line-up certainly flummoxed me, although all credit to the one man in the White Hart who was convinced Archie Gray would play at right back! Great shout that John! I thought the names on the team sheet suggested that Pascal would play there and that we’d again use Ethan Ampadu at centre-back, but thank goodness we didn’t; it didn’t work last time and I think Daniel Farke should be congratulated for knowing that Archie could do the job, even though we then missed him in midfield. Can I suggest that Archie’s performance at right back was almost immaculate? I lost count of the number of times he dispossessed the Bristol left winger, while coming forward he was as positive as Luke Ayling on steroids!
The game went the same way as most this season; Leeds were far and away the better team on the pitch but yet again we didn't convert that dominance into a more comfortable victory. Once again the chances were there. Georginio early on somehow managed to clear the crossbar when it looked easier to score and an opposition goalkeeper once again pulled out an astonishing save in the second half – to deny Crysencio. But a combination of the keeper, sheer bad luck, and our own finishing meant the game went down to the wire. We did fashion 21 attempts at goal – a goodly number – and hit the target with 8 of them, also not too bad.
Leeds broke through to lead in the 37th minute with a goal from Dan James, finishing clinically another superb assist from Georginio who thought quicker than a defender to nick the ball and was then strong enough to stretch and swing it along the six-yard line where James met it to steer it into the net. That should have seen us into the dressing room a goal up, but conceding a late corner we then failed to mark Naithsmith close enough and he was able to stoop and head the Robins level. It was neither good defending nor good timing! It was left to Joel Piroe to help make Daniel Farke’s press conference point for him again as he collected the ball on the edge of the area and simply stroked the ball through a defender’s legs into the corner of the net when nothing looked on at all!
2 – 1 and then it could have been three if Crysencio had been a foot taller as he stretched at the back post but could only scuff another Georginio cross just wide. Georginio continues to get better with every passing minute of every game… apart from his finishing!
The one thing that has stood out for me in these first 11 league games is the lack of quality we have seen from every team we’ve played. Even Southampton I thought were not actually that good, rather we were just very poor that day. That must auger well, as we’ve now seen almost half the sides in the division and only Ipswich showed any real quality.
We are right in the mix and if we can get Willy Gnonto and Djed Spence fit and back in the side we ought to be able to continue to push on when we start again in two weeks’ time. Until then, enjoy the little break folks!
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds United 2 (James 37’, Piroe 53’)
Bristol City 1 (Naismith 45+4’)
Leeds: Meslier (GK), Ampadu, Piroe (Gruev 90’), Kamara (Ayling 90’), Summerville (Cooper 90’), Rodon, James (Anthony 78’), Struijk (C), Gray, Georginio (Bamford 82’), Byram. Subs not used: Darlow (GK), Cresswell, Poveda, Gelhardt.
Bristol: O’Leary (GK), Pring, Naismith, James (C), Williams (King 59’), Knight (Weimann 67’), Dickie, Sykes, Bell (Mehmeti 67’), Wells (Cornick 30’), Gardner-Hickman (Conway 59’). Subs not used: Bajic (GK), Roberts, Yeboah, Nelson.
Venue: Elland Road
Referee: Keith Stroud
Booked: Rodon (Leeds) Williams, Gardner-Hickman (Bristol)