The roundabout capital of the world was the destination for what was hyped as our biggest test of the season so far. MK Don’s identi-kit stadium was packed with 4,000 travelling Whites that were in full voice as we made our presence known.

When any team is reduced to ten men against Leeds, it sends a shiver down the spine of all the Leeds fans present, such is our record against supposedly weakened opposition. You see, the thing with Leeds is that we like to do things the hard way and the game against MK Dons stands testiment to that.

When Jason Puncheon was sent off for a foul on Michael Doyle the Dons did exactly what every other team does and defended with the remaining ten and in that lies the problem. Whenever a team is hell-bent on defending to the death, it’s always going to be hard to break through – Liverpool-Debrechen the other week is a prime example of this.

Predictably, Leeds hammered the ball forward and MK Dons fought to earn a point. Heading into injury time it looked like the poor and instantly forgettable game was going to end 0-0, but when Leeds were awarded a free-kick in the second minute of injury time, Bradley Johnson launched it in, Robert Snodgrass got his head to it and Leeds turned what really should have been one point into three.

The result was harsh on MK Dons as the rest of the game was pretty dire. Both teams were well-organised and pretty much cancelled each other out. There was the odd chance, but nothing to write home about and whether Puncheon deserved a red card or not is questionable. It wasn’t a good tackle, but he did get the ball. His other leg followed through and he took the player too. There was no question he deserved a booking, but red seems a bit harsh.

When things are going for you, you take it and smile, because every football fan knows that there’ll be other games where you’re less fortunate and it’ll be us that suffer. It’s cliched to say these things cancel each other out, but across the course of a season they usually do. Wimbledon, I mean Milton Keynes have the right to feel disappointed and slightly robbed but I’m sure there’ll be things that go their way too this season.

There’s really little else to say about the game. MK Dons were probably the better team in a dull first half. In the second half, Leeds started by hammering the ball forward and creating very little. They eventually decided to pass it about a bit and try to run at MK Dons and although it still didn’t look like we were going to score, Andy Robinson made the breakthrough when he was brought down for the decisive free-kick.

An irritated Paul Ince had the following analysis;

“I thought we deserved to win, in the first half we played really well and should have probably come in one or two up.

“I said before the game that Leeds are the yardstick, but after watching the game today I’m not so sure. They’re a good side, don’t get me wrong but we showed today that we’re just as good as Leeds. If not better.”

Erm… No Paul, you didn’t show that at all. Away from home, Simon Grayson has adopted a policy of grinding results out by defending deep and attacking less. It’s not as pretty as it is at Elland Road, but it has been effective and whether Paul accepts it or not, they never deserved to score. As the home team, they should have had the advantage, but they never really looked like they did. In the reverse fixture at Elland Road, I think we’ll see the difference.

That said, I think this is perhaps mind-games from Paul. Suggesting they’re better than us was probably meant to motivate the players and give their egos a lift. By no stretch of the imagination is it actually true, but managers have to employ such tactics to inspire belief in their squad.

Milton Keynes are a good team. Definitely the strongest and most well-organised we’ve faced so far, but they didn’t seem to have those game changing players like ourselves and Charlton have. It’s far too easy to say ‘we could have beaten them’. We said it after the Liverpool game and teams say it every week in the Premiership after facing the big boys, but the reality is they didn’t and there’s a reason for that.

Ince goes on to critisise the referee for his decision to send Puncheon off and as I said earlier, it did seem harsh. The referee was truly woeful throughout the fixture and ruined the game completely for both teams.

Simon Grayson meanwhile conceeded that the players didn’t move the ball round well and admitted his relief at the result after forgetting to include Enoch Showumni on the team-sheet. The officials had refused to allow any alteration so Enoch was unavailable. His strength could have come in handy against a determined MK defence too.

“Full credit to the players, it was difficult against 10 men and we didn’t move the ball around as well as we can, but we ground out the win.”I’m a relieved man actually because I messed up the team-sheet – I thought I’d included Enoch Showunmi as a sub but when I looked at it before the game he wasn’t on there.

“Thankfully it didn’t cost us but I’ll get someone else to do the team-sheet in future!”

TSS man of the match
It’s hard to pick a man of the match after such a depressing fixture, but Robert Snodgrass had another good game after his impressive performance against Liverpool and his winner was the icing on the cake. After a mediocre start to the campaign he really seems to have upped his game now and looks to be back to the Snodgrass of last season.

In an interview for the Sunday Mail, Snodgrass reveals why he wasn’t tempted to move on and why he’s determined to be a part of Leeds United history and help us achieve promotion.

“This is a famous and massive club. There’s so much history surrounding the place and it’s impossible not to realise that when you’re here.”Everyone makes sure you’re aware of it from the moment you arrive. Even I knew everything about Leeds as a kid. I knew all about the greats who came down here from Scotland – like Eddie and Frank Gray, Lorimer, Jordan, Bremner, McQueen then Strachan and McAllister.

“This club doesn’t forget the legends who played here – they stick by their traditions.

“Eddie and Peter are still in and around Elland Road and I chat to them all the time.

“When I had a spell out of the team they told me to bide my time and be patient.

“Gary was also great and told me all about the city and club. It feels great that I’m now part of that history at Leeds.

“That’s why I’m determined to help them get out of League One and back to the Premiership. We have stability now and the club is going in the right direction.”

With experience, comes cynicism and in the years since our demise I’ve grown very untrusting of players and refuse to take anything they say too seriously. The fact is that players often tell people what they want to hear, but with Snodgrass you really do get the feeling he’s proud to be at Elland Road and following in the footsteps of the legends he mentioned. He has the talent to play well above this league and if he can help us get there, then he may well be remembered as fondly as them too.

An important three points against MK Dons that keeps us two points above Charlton and extends the gap between ourselves and the play-off places. Our next two games are at Fort Elland Road against Carlisle on Tuesday and a huge fixture on Saturday as Charlton Athletic roll into town.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Leeds come through at the death against MK Dons -- Topsy.com()

  • Grumpy Older Man

    Small matter but it was Doyle that Puncheon tackled (and imho both live and having seen the reply it was very harsh). I’m not so sure I quite see the “grinding out” in away games you see, more of a “drag down to their level”.

    • TSS

      Right you are. Was writing from memory and genuinely thought it was Snodgrass. I bet it mentioned it in all the articles I got quotes from too!

      As for grinding results out vs lowering our game, perhaps we are. But, it’s working and maybe if we go at teams on their own ground, all guns blazing it’ll cost us? Whatever it is, we can’t really argue with Grayson’s tactics whilst we’re winning.

  • dave shack

    absoloutely spot on about the home team taking the initiative, its up to them to take the game to us and you wont see leeds sittting back at home and bellyaching about the away team being lucky! im totally chuffed about us getting points at mk and southend,if we can pick up a point at every top half team away game,(if u know wot i mean) and nail the home games we ll be promoted,totally agree about ince playing the mind games cos every league 1 team saw how good we were against lvrpool and they know we are the best team in the league barr none, simple as that!

  • Pingback: Sussex Sport Photography.com - News: This weekend I was mostly … | Triathlon Leisure Knowledge()

  • Pingback: Undefeated and top of the league – The season so far()