It’s good to be a Leeds fan again this morning after our 2-0 victory over Colchester ended the dismal run of league form we’ve been experiencing lately. The frustrating run of results left many Leeds United fans pulling their hair out when taken into context with the brilliant FA Cup displays they were sandwiched between. Simon Grayson called for an improvement, and a reshuffled Leeds United delivered.

There’s an old saying in football that it’s a game of two halves. This match however, was a tale of two halves of the first half. Leeds started looking a little panicked and shaky across the field, but slowly gained confidence as the scoreline remained level. On-loan signing, McSheffrey found his feet and started playing some excellent link-up play with the other attacking players. His ball holding skills proved valuable throughout and there’s no mistaking how good an addition he was.

The on-loan striker made his first real mark in a white shirt in the build-up to our opening goal. As Leeds found their feet and confidence, the sheer strength of our attacking options started to pay dividends with McSheffrey, Snodgrass, Becchio and Beckford all present to trouble the Colchester defence, forcing them to keep more players behind the ball than they probably would have liked. It was Becchio that was brought down inside the area for another one of those nervous penalty moments, but McSheffrey’s contribution to the build-up shouldn’t be overlooked.

Cue Beckford once more with the penalty. No nonsense from the Leeds United striker, struck firmly into the side of the net to send Leeds infront. Colchester’s keeper did guess the right way, but Beckford got the fundementals right by hitting it with enough pace to leave the U’s keeper with no chance. Before the Spurs game, we’d only scored one of our last seven penalties. Beckford has now buried the last two and our penalty woes may finally be at an end.

Meanwhile, our second new addition was a left-back from Villa called Lawry. Another great signing by Simon Grayson who has successfully identified the weak spot in our team once more. For the first time in as long as I can remember, the Leeds United manager seems to be reading from the same page as the rest of us. His arrival is a welcomed one and the youngster gave a very impressive performance for the 70 or so minutes he played before being forced off with what looked like cramp. That said, the last full-back we got on-loan from Villa got injured in the warm-up to his debut so I wouldn’t be surprised if lightning has struck twice. This is Leeds after all, we’re hardly the luckiest team in the world.

Both the new arrivals were involved with the next major Leeds United move which followed the opening goal and looked destined to make it 2-0. Lowry’s break fed Beckford who selflishly linked with McSheffrey who was massively unlucky not to score on his debut. Only an excellent one-handed save from the impressive Colchester United stopper spoilt the dream debut for McSheffrey who was realing starting to make his mark on the fixture.

The second half started much the same as the first ended with Leeds on top. The teams confidence had clearly built throughout and the vast supply of attacking options Leeds had was keeping Colchester’s defence extremely busy. Elsewhere, there was a massive improvement on recent weeks in Howson and Doyle’s display who ran the show in the centre of the park, battling hard throughout.

By this point, McSheffrey and Beckford were looking like the ultimate combination upfront, linking well and creating chances almost at will. However, the second, and ultimately final goal came ten minutes into the second period via Jonny Howson. Jonny brought the ball down neatly to create an nice shooting opportunity and struck sweetly, only to see his effort come back off the woodwork. Jermaine Beckford was as alert as ever inside the box though and pounced on the rebound to give Leeds a two goal lead and a much needed three points.

From there on in, we continued to create opportunites. Beckford was unlucky not to bag an hattrick when his third goal was ruled out for offside. Not sure on that one, but I’ll give the officials the benefit of the doubt since we won. McSheffrey received a well deserved standing ovation as he was replaced by Max Gradel who himself went on to nearly make it three after Beckford played him in and his shot was saved by the Colchester keeper.

Overall, and despite a shaky opening period, this was more like the Leeds United we’ve got used to this season. The new additions were integral to the performance bringing some much needed life to what had been a fading team. Colchester played well enough and won’t be too dishearted by the result, but Leeds’ attacking options proved the difference.

The tactics used by Grayson in this match showed a real belief in the manager who could have easily tried to iscolate any threats and hope Beckford gets lucky. Instead, he fielded a very attack minded team in what was at times a 4-2-4 formation. Howson looked much more comfortable in the centre of the park with Doyle alongside him doing what he does best in making the challenges and cleaning up the mess.

Aside from the three points we needed desperately, what makes this victory extra sweet is the satisfaction of silencing the anti-IGWT (In Grayson we trust) contingent. Whilst I was cynical of the decision to play the same team in the cups as we have in the league, changes in form will happen over the season and the main thing is that Grayson identified the problem, acted on it and resolved it before it became anything too serious. That’s what makes Simon different from the rest of the managers who have passed through Elland Road over the last decade or so and that’s what will take this football club forward.

And finally…

That just leaves the man of the match, which could easily go to McSheffrey as his contribution was excellent, but for me, it was Jermaine Beckford. Even without the two goals he delivered, he was brilliant. He linked well throughout with everyone, creating plenty of opportunities and seemed to enjoy every second of the game. Nice to see him smiling and enjoying life at Elland Road once more.