Leeds through to JPT regional final despite woeful defending TSS December 15, 2009 Match reviews 2 Comments When Hogan Ephraim’s shot deflected in after just eight minutes, it looked like it was going to be all too easy for Leeds United, but if the opening goal was lucky, the atrocious defending that went unpunished thereafter was miraculous. Grayson rung the changes to his side. Richard Naylor returned to the team and partnered Lubomir Michalik at the back, with Crowe and Hughes playing at full-back. On-loan Liverpool goalkeeper, David Martin made his debut and there was also starts for Hogan Ephraim, Tresor Kandol and Mike Grella. After Ephraim’s fortuitous opening goal, Leeds never applied any real pressure. The best chances we had for the remainder of the first half fell to Kandol, who had a shot blocked by the Accrington keeper’s legs and a hopeful shot from Robert Snodgrass that went wide. Accrington meanwhile probably had as many chances as Leeds including a free-header from a corner that their striker really should have buried. The lack of man-marking from the set-piece was a sign of things to come as the shaky Leeds defence made the game harder than it should have been. The second half brought with it another early goal when Ephraim crossed for Kilkenny who headed home. 2-0 to Leeds and things really should have been wrapped up. Accrington never put their heads down though and kept fighting. Had it not been for a lucky save from David Martin which flicked on to the post and came back out in to the path of a White shirt, Accrington could have been back in it. More fortune for Leeds as the woodwork came to their rescue again and the Leeds defence continued to scare the life out of the 12,000 inside Elland Road. Grayson changed the front two with Kandol and Grella making way for Vokes and Gradel. Neither of the departing strikers will have been happy with their shift as they did little to threaten Stanley’s keeper throughout. Gradel forced an impressive save from the Accrington keeper late on, but the substitutes didn’t have much more luck than the two they replaced and Accrington continued to look the more likely to score. Such was the state of Leeds United at the back, Simon Grayson made the decision to bring on Patrick Kisnorbo in place of Robert Snodgrass, effectively changing the formation to 5-3-2. Probably not something he’d expected to have to do before the fixture, but Naylor and Lubo just weren’t keeping the visitors at bay. Leeds managed to escape the fixture with a clean sheet, but if todays team was supposed to show the quality of this squads depth then we have problems. I know Doyle is often seen as the weak link in midfield, but the job he does in suring up the defence is invaluable. His absence today was noticable throughout. The partnership of Lubo and Naylor didn’t work and the full-backs didn’t inspire much confidence either. Elsewhere, Grella and Kandol never really had a chance to shoot. The difference between the two sides was only Leeds taking their chances. There were very few clear cut chances for the Whites as we rarely looked in a hurry to attack, but the ones we did have were converted. Accrington meanwhile will have been disappointed with some of their finishing, most notably the free-headet in the first half. However, they’ll also be cursing their luck with the woodwork coming to our rescue twice. Regardless of how many changes we made tonight, we have to improve before the weekend. Southampton are a strong side and with Rickie Lambert upfront, they’ll be sure to punish such sloppy defending. The main thing is that we’re through to the final where we’ll meet Carlisle United. Although I’d have preferred to play the Leeds suburb of Bradford, we’re still in the race for Wembley and that’s the main thing. TSS man of the match I’m going to give it to the Elland Road woodwork tonight as without it, we’d have probably been knocked out on penalties. Hogan Ephraim deserves a shout too though. Although he did little to help out defensively (like the rest of the team) he got himself a goal and an assist, so an obvious choice.