After a frantic dash to Walsall, I missed all opportunites for pre-match socialising and took my place just minutes before kick-off to find myself surrounded by almost 4,000 Leeds United fans.

Leeds dominated throughout the fixture, starting brightly and attacking well. The chances came, but Leeds failed to convert and when Walsall got a questionable penalty decision eleven minutes from time it looked like our luck had run out already. Walsall converted the penalty and Leeds were behind for the first time this season.

Walsall v Leeds 18-08-09

Great picture found on a forum of Leeds United fans and players celebrating.

The close to 4,000 Leeds fans that had travelled however urged the side on and within minutes we were level. The enigma that is Bradley Johnson levelled with an impressive diving header, leaving it to Jermaine Beckford to add an Hollywood finish to the game late on when he fired home from a long pass from Rui Marques to seal the third straight league victory for the Whites. 2-1.

After a couple of below-par performances where we grinded out a result, we look to have improved a lot against Walsall. Leeds attacked from the off and played well for pretty much all the 90 minutes.

Robert Snodgrass who has been relatively quiet so far had a much better game (moreso in the second half than the first admittedly) and was consistently involved in the attacks. He could have rounded the night off with a third in the final minutes, but fired into the side-netting. Leeds didn’t rest on the 2-1 win either despite there being just 3 minutes of the game left (plus added time). Snodgrass’ attempt was followed by another attack which he was involved in where he crossed looking for Jermaine Beckford, but a Walsall defender beat him to it and headed clear.

I think Walsall have been the toughest test of the 2009-10 season so far, but the fact we dominated and got the result is a very good sign. It’s games like these where we were dropping points last season and the ones that will ultimately be the difference between automatic and another one of those play-off “runs”.

We got a lot of things right tonight. For one we passed well, attacked well and looked a threat throughout the entire fixture rather than in fits and starts as in previous games. The team looked good all round with perhaps the right and left back positions remaining our biggest flaws. Hughes is totally unsuited to left-back and Larry’s logic in picking him continues to baffle me. From a defensive point of view he’s sort of OK most of the time, but like his counter-part at right-back, seems to struggle when attacked at pace. Like all right-footed players playing on the opposite wing, Hughes’ biggest problem is that he has to turn onto his stronger foot to whip a cross in, by which time, the attacking move has often broken down.

I don’t want to dwell on too many negatives as Crowe is a good enougb player for this division (although I’d like another option for when we come up against a pacey side) and Hughes is only filling in in Ben Parker’s absence.

100% record maintained, third in the league and a team shaping up nicely. Good to be a Leeds fan at the minute. Next up is John Barnes’ Tranmere, who lost 1-0 at home to MK Dons tonight. The confidence in the squad is building and although I’m not a fan of these last minute wins, I’ll happily take another 43 of them. On and on.

Walsall 1-2 Leeds United

TSS man of the match/Jermaine Beckford watch
I’m going to go with Jermaine Beckford, with Patrick Kisnorbo a very close second. Although Becks had a lot more chances than he scored and perhaps should have got his name on the scoresheet earlier, he’s a constant threat who forces teams to keep players back and keeps defenders busy throughout. His goal, his celebration and his contribution all round were quality. “Sign your contract for the lads!”

On a side note, I just want to give a quick plug to another Leeds United blog written by a fellow supporter. Like so many of us, ‘MOT’ travels up and down the country following the Whites and updates it on his blog ‘Travels of a Leeds fan’. Well worth checking out.

  • Andrew Preston

    Listend to the match on LUTV, I must say, because of our dominance but lack of goals, I had this down for a 0-0 after 70 mins.

    Im pleased to be dissapointed on that front. The noise on the commentary coming from the Leeds fans was unreal after our first and I just had a feeling (as I charged through the house shouting ‘YESSSS’, that we might just nick it.

    One thing regards left back, whatever happened to Aidy White?

    • TSS

      The support was immense and I think we all felt the same when the equaliser went in. Thoroughly deserved victory, but like you say, it had 0-0 written all over it at one point.

      I think White was on the bench. I’m guessing Grayson is reluctant to start someone so young and inexperienced, but I’d have thought he’d have got 20 minutes or so. Hughes was replaced by Robinson late on and I think Johnson moved to left-back which, despite his efforts, still isn’t a great move.

    • Hunter’sboots

      I too thought the game had o-o written all over it.I listend on Yorks Sport and think Becchio was mentioned 5 times in all (admitted its different seeing the game live, his movement off the ball etc).However, we had met relative nobodys’up to now and Walsall was our first clash with an established L1 side.I am a bit worried.Sure we are dominating teams (mostly) with our quality but the lack of goals from other areas of the team means it could count for nothing against sides that can score goals.Hate to say it but freescoring teams like Huddersfield may have buried us before Becks can rescue us. I hope I am wrong, we have 9 points, a 100%record, but something aint right. Am I just a miserable B—–d!!!?

      • TSS

        Huddersfield were only free-scoring last night because Brighton’s keeper was sent off. I wouldn’t read too much into that victory.

        The goals will come from other areas I suspect. Johnson got one last night and Snoddy looks like he’ll add a few to the tally. Jonny Howson will also contribute.

  • Matt wright

    I thought there was some good battling and spirit shown by a good amount of the team. I was at the game last night and I do have to agree with the fullback situation. Hughes tries hard but like his headers, yes he wins then but they don’t go anywhere. I want to like him cuz he has fight in him but maybe LB just ain’t quite him. As for crowe I saw him for bits for a few games and he looks like he could skin people a plenty but last night we come have had such better breaks of he skinned that one player and to be fair snoddy looked fuming a few times as he was in acres space but crowe failed to notice. Also what was the long balls all about Jason? Just was it to snoddy who’s in space! Special mentions for howson-looked calm and steadied the game. Rui and paddy looked good, becchio didn’t play badly at all just his usual battling style. Snoddy played well. Robbo always brings something. Brad played good to.I could go on all day……..

    • TSS

      Think the long balls may be down to Grayson. Last year, under McAllister we often tried to pass it out of defence and got caught out several times. Under Grayson, we’ve cleared the danger first, then gone on the attack.

      • Matt wright

        I just feel that basically crowe distribution was a bit below par for example if that was frazer last season if it was dribbled, passed down the line or a long ball. It would of been better. There was no mixing it up. Largely just long balls and as we shown last night when we got it down our play outclassed them. I’m not knocking his defensive play at all as he wasn’t the worse one out there, I just think there is room for improvement. Which can only be a good thing as the season goes on. Anyway a wins a win! Well done lads!

        • Hunter’sboots

          Crowe’s play may have been tactics Matt. Against Exeter he executed some good inter-play down the line and getting to the byline himself, I suspect because Exeter’s back four were huge, all well above 6ft and capable of dealing with arial threat. last night he may have been told that long high balls out may trouble Walsalls defence, Grayson seems keen on studying the oppositions teams in advance.Just a thought.

  • MOT

    Thanks for the plug David, good result last night even though it was a late, late show. I’m sure Larry is not getting carried away and is aware of the weaknesses in the team. biggest positive is the defence looking as solid as a rock, unlike last years first half of the season showing?
    MOT

    • TSS

      No problems mate. Just read your review and seen the highlights. Never noticed the little girl on the pitch last night, was too busy dancing around and getting crushed. Crazy match with a fantastic atmosphere and exceptional fans.