MOTM Chris Gunter
01/02/11 19:45 Category: Championship
This was yet another fantastic away result and the sort of game that we would probably have lost last season. For the second game in a couple of days we gave away a very poor goal but recovered well to take the lead. Fortunately, we weren’t up against Premier League class of opposition this time and had just had enough energy left to preserve the win.
We started the game confidently, with all the play in their half and the home side getting plenty of men behind the ball, it was almost like a home game. Apart from a free kick that flicked the bar, there was very little to concern us.
Having looked so comfortable, their goal came out of nowhere. A fairly straight forward cross from the left wing saw the defence in a rare mess, Camp saved one effort, Morgan couldn’t clear off the line and King tapped in.
This knocked us back for a little while but we soon got the equaliser that our earlier play deserved. McGugan took advantage of space in midfield to hit a speculative shot that swerved late and went straight under their keeper.
Tudgay’s perseverance earned us what turned out to be the winning goal. He wouldn’t give up the ball down the right hand, fought off their defender and released the overlapping Moussi. Despite pulling up with an injury, Moussi had enough awareness to pull the ball back for Earnshaw to fire into the top corner. The keeper got a touch but the ball was only going to end up in one place.
We had numerous other chances with Anderson getting clean through and rolling the ball wide, another decent chance presented itself to him but he decided to pass instead. Earnshaw was narrowly offside from Gunter’s through ball before missing the target. Cohen’s free kick fell perfectly for Moussi but his shot was straight at their keeper. We should have converted one of a number of good breaks as half-time approached but had to settle for a single goal lead.
The injury to Moussi in the build-up to the second goal was the one real negative on a good evening. Just as McGugan got this season up and running for us, Moussi has almost single handedly carried us through the past few weeks. He’s put together a succession of impressive performances, improved his passing and it remains to be seen whether McKenna can step up and fill this loss.
The second half start in a similar fashion with Cohen clean through on goal and deciding to square for Earnshaw instead of going for goal himself. The pass got intercepted and the chance was lost.
From that point onwards, it turned into a scrappy affair. Coventry improved slightly and we dropped deeper and stopped pushing them backwards. It was understandable given the short amount of time between games.
For all of his faults off the pitch, Marlon King looks in top form at the moment and was easily their most dangerous player. Lucky for us, his ability to control the ball and bring others into the game wasn’t matched by his colleagues. Whenever, they played a little football in the second half and got the ball to his feet he looked dangerous but he suffered from a lack of support.
The team needed strengthening and so Lynch and Adebola joined in to provide some badly needed height. A number of crosses from distance needed Morgan and Chambers to be at their best and they won a number of important headers.
We missed Tyson’s pace off the ball and in the closing stages lacked any pace. Every time we cleared the ball, it was only a matter of time before it came straight back at us. Despite the majority of the ball and a string of lumps into the area, we held out and Camp only really had to deal with the crosses.
MOTM Gunter showed a cool head in defence, taking responsibility when needed. He also found time to get forward and provide very good support down the right hand side when we caught them on the break.
Konchesky looked a very useful addition and showed a lot of quality in possession. He’s not going to hide from a challenge, won a number of 50-50s and looked one of the fittest players on display. He didn’t look out of place when pushed into midfield service when Lynch came on.
18/09/10 17:20 Category: Championship
Whilst the level of performance continues to show slight improvement, the lack of a clinical edge in front of goal again cost us another valuable two points. The right players to address this issue were targeted in the summer but having failed to sign them, we’re now suffering the consequences. The first half was a pretty dull affair with Forest restricting the hosts to a number of routine long range efforts. The closest we came to conceding only arrived when Cohen mis-hit a clearance to the edge of our own area and the resulting shot ended up a yard wide. Whilst looking fairly solid defensively, we struggled to pose enough of a threat at the other end. Too often we found ourselves in a reasonable position but lacked enough quality to take advantage. McGugan’s free kick narrowly past the near post was our best effort. However, after the break, there was only one team capable of winning the game as we dominated for long spells. It only seemed a matter of time before we scored as we created a number of opportunities that should have been converted to bring a well-earned victory. We changed formation and pushed Anderson alongside Earnshaw and their movement caused endless problems for the ponderous home defence. With our midfield dealing with anything Hull could offer and full backs Gunter and Bertrand threatening down the flanks, only a missing clinical finish prevented us from recreating that West Brom performance. Chambers missed a routine close-range header, Earnshaw saw one goal narrowly ruled out for offside and another header narrowly wide. Gunter’s adventurous charge down the right should have produced a deserved penalty but it was a narrow call and the referee predictably sided with the home team, giving a free kick on the edge of the area. McGugan also had a goal bound effort, from a well worked corner, blocked on its way to the bottom corner. Camp had very little to do, thanks to the performance of those in front of him. MOTM Gunter showed all his quality at both ends down the right and his return makes us a different and lot less predictable side. Bertrand continues to show all his promise with a similar display on the other flank and when playing well as a pair it’s doubtful you’ll see a better combination elsewhere in the league. Chambers replaced the injured Wilson and should have capped a solid partnership alongside Morgan with the opening goal but badly missed a chance he would normally take. In midfield, Moussi made noticeable difference with a physical display that Hull, and Bullard in particular, had no answer to. Fortunately his work rate allows for the times that McGugan goes missing and doesn’t pull his weight, yet the latter does possess a quality in front of goal that few others in the squad have and is worthy of his return to the side. Unfortunately, Earnshaw couldn’t last the whole game and our attacking options greatly reduced once he left proceedings. His movement with and without the ball is in contrast to last season where he was a passenger in most away games and deserved to be left out. Through his performances this season, he’s one of the first names in the starting eleven and looking the most likely to turn these draws into wins. The late replacements couldn’t match the earlier quality and we had to settle for a routine and slightly disappointing, away point.
15/08/10 13:15 Category: Championship
The first twenty minutes brought back memories of the carefree attacking football so often last season. We could easily have been three goals ahead as Leeds had no answer to our pace and movement off the ball. We flowed forward at every opportunity with player running off the ball and quick, simple passing in midfield. Gunter seemed to be tripped just inside the area but nothing given, Anderson’s rebound hit their keeper (who knew nothing about it) whilst Earnshaw’s effort across the keeper flicked the post and away to safety. We had to settle for Gunter’s excellent left footed cross and Blackstock’s flicked header into the bottom corner to give us a deserved lead.
Even before their equaliser, there were signs that the game was turning away from us. However, this was all our own fault and nothing to do with any quality from a very average Leeds team. Too many unforced errors caused moments of defensive panic and eventually we got caught out. Morgan attempted a cross-field pass that was never on, the resulting left wing cross saw Morgan beaten again in the air, leaving Camp with no chance. Morgan wasn’t alone though, his was one of a number of unnecessary risks taken when in possession.
The rest of the game was a dull scrappy affair as Forest looked a mess in midfield, allowing Leeds much more time in possession than they should have been allowed. Fortunately, they had very little composure in front of goal and we got away with it. Neither keeper made any saves worth mentioning so a draw was a fair result. Their low shot through a crowd of players was a couple of feet wide and another flicked header, again off target, were the only times we looked in any genuine danger. At the other end, there was very rarely anything to get excited about as we struggled to maintain any momentum.
We looked a mess in midfield compared to the early stages as we stopped doing the simple things that gave us such a good start. McKenna constantly gave the ball away, Raddy looked for that glory pass or ambitious shot every time. Billy tried to change things around in the wide areas by introducing the pace of McCleary and Tyson. Neither had much of an effect and seemed to hinder us even further as it took an age for everyone to understand where they were playing. Cohen moved into the centre for a while and then ended the game back on the right wing once Moussi was belatedly introduced. Everyone seemed to be going through the motions and lacked that spark that a new arrival would surely provide. Worryingly, Billy wouldn’t talk about possible new additions after the game, seemingly bored and appearing resigned to a lack of action for some time.
Whilst the opening goal gave some cause for optimism, the majority of the game was below par and disjointed. In the poor spells, we looked a side approaching the end of a long/hard season instead of one bursting with energy. All the early enthusiasm soon disappeared to be replaced by an endless stream of mis-hit or mis-directed passes. Apart from Earnshaw and Blackstock, the lack of genuine goal scorers remains a concern, the midfield doesn’t look capable of providing enough goals on the occasions where the forwards are marked out of the game.
The full backs, Gunter and Bertrand, were the highlight of the afternoon. Neither were blameless in terms of giving the ball away but showed enough quality at both ends of the field to suggest we’ve addressed those positions at least. MOTM Gunter took advantage of the space down our right hand side to provide many of the first half highlights. Can consider himself lucky to stay on the pitch after a stamp on one of their players but having seen their behaviour, there was some provocation involved. Bertrand down the left looks very comfortable on the ball and adds badly needed balance to the side. With the narrow midfield we employ, it’s essential that the full backs are able to make use of the space in front of them.