There’s nothing like a late November trip to the seaside to remind you that global warming is doing little to improve our winter climate. Cold would be an understatement for days like these and for the travelling Leeds United fans, you just hope and pray the on-pitch activities will produce something that will warm up our shivering Northern souls.
After another one of those international breaks that left myself and countless other Leeds United fans with a weekend to scratch our heads and wonder how to spend the time, the Whites returned fresh and hungry. The Leeds United faithful were all too aware of Gus Poyet’s managerial talent and with two wins in his two games so far – including a 3-1 victory over in-form Southampton – there was some cautious predictiors, including myself. I thought we’d do well to leave with a draw!
The teams were a class apart however and the gulf between Leeds and Brighton in the standings is not by fluke. Brighton simply couldn’t contend with Leeds United despite the fact we’d lost two key players to injury. Bradley Johnson and Richard Naylor were sidelined with Lubomir Michalik and Neil Kilkenny in as replacements, whilst Jonny Howson picked up the captaincy.
In years past, the loss of key players often resulted in clueless below-par performances, but credit to Simon Grayson and Leeds United. We have enough depth in this team now to ride out even the most disastrous injury crisis. Lubo looks like a man transformed and gave a very solid display whilst Neil Kilkenny continued to impress everyone.
Brighton had given Leeds a pathetically poor allocation of 900, which is probably just in-line with the minimum of 10% that the FA demands. Brighton has one of the most ramshackle stadiums/huts you’ll ever visit, so it’s hardly suprising. You’ll see better attempts of a football ground at your local park. Many of my fellow fans that had managed to get tickets had donned some cheap and tacky plastic rain-coats/bin-liners that made them look like the Leeds branch of the KKK. Either way, if you hadn’t come prepared, they’ll have been welcomed as the Whites faithful settled in for a cold, wet and blustery afternoon.
Luckily, the on-pitch activites kept us all warm as we sang our hearts out for the lads. After a shockingly bad penalty shout was missed by another outstanding referee (not that we’d have scored it anyway) Robert Snodgrass fired the Whites into the lead just before the half hour mark. A great strike from some range swerved into the net to leave the Brighton keeper stranded and send Leeds United 1-0 up.
Beckford hit the post, Brighton had a couple of half chances, but overall Leeds were by far the better team and controlled the game throughout. We were rewarded for our dominance just before half-time when a beautiful long range pass from Neil Kilkenny found Jermaine Beckford who had all the time in the world to calmly slot home and give Leeds a 2-0 lead.
The second half continued in much the same style with Leeds clearly on top. Brighton tried to get into the game but never really gave Leeds too much to worry about. The referee continued his impressive display by failing to award another clear-cut penalty to Leeds when Robert Snodgrass was the victim of a WWE-style challenge from the Brighton defence.
Brighton simply never had the opportunity to play. Leeds pressed them whenever they were in possession and gave them no time or space to create anything. Leeds looked much more comfortable on the ball and the result was never really in doubt.
As the final seconds of the game ticked away David Prutton linked well with Neil Kilkenny who smashed a shot beyond the Brighton keeper to give Leeds a 3-0 win, which was no less than they deserved. Kilkenny had a very good game and should definitely be giving Grayson a bit of a selection headache when Johnson returns.
It was just too easy for the Whites today. Brighton simply weren’t up to the challenge and Leeds out-classed them in every area. I think overall, Brighton will be happy with 3-0 when you consider the two clear penalty decisions Leeds were denied and Beckford’s unfortunate shot that came back off the post.
TSS man of the match
I’m going to go with Neil Kilkenny, although in fairness, all the midfielders were contendors. None of them did much wrong all game and the fixture was definitely won in the centre of the park. Brighton were closed down quickly, given no space at all and Leeds commanded respect throughout.
Elsewhere in League One
Charlton came back from 1-0 down to earn a draw at Yeovil, whilst Colchester failed to take their chance and could only manage a 2-2 draw at Oldham. Huddersfield move up to third after beating Hartlepool 2-1 and Norwich also drew away to Southampton.
Leeds now sit nine points clear of third place Huddersfield and six clear of Charlton with a game in hand. We’ve still conceeded just eight goals in the League, which is still the best in the country alongside Chelsea who are easing towards the Premier League title with a 4-0 win. It’s still early doors, but the title is definitely ours to lose.
Just like to send my best wishes to former Leeds United player, Stephen McPhail who has been diagnosed with stage one matt lymphoma – a type of cancer. He’s set to receive treatment for the disease shortly and is hoping to be back in action for Cardiff by January. Best wishes, Stephen.