A trip down South to the team that sounds more like a Chinese takeaway than it does a football club was quite an exciting one surprisingly enough. Even though I knew it was unlikely Jermaine Beckford would play and Kis was still out, I couldn’t help but get ahead of myself and predict a 3-0 win to the Whites. Not sure whether it was naivety or logical thinking, but Leeds’ wealth of attacking options for me were destined to destroy the pitiful Southerners.

In the first half things went as planned. Leeds dominated possession, had pretty much all the notable chances and were just missing the deft touch infront of goal that would give us the lead we so blatently deserved. Nothing to worry about though. All we’re missing is a striker capable of making something out of all this possession and attacking play and bobs your uncle. As chance would have it, there just happened to be a young American striker on the bench, described by many of his team mates as the most skilful player in the squad, and who has proved before that he can make a difference.

Unfortunately, Larry stood firm with his starting line-up and put his faith in Luciano Becchio, who, quite frankly, looks lost without Jermaine Beckford lately. I don’t want to be over-critical of a player who has given his all for Leeds United, but the difference between him and Becks was shown to all when it came to penalties against Carlisle. Whilst you’d have to prize the ball from Jermaine Beckford’s cold dead hands to get any chance of taking a scoring opportunity away from him, Luci doesn’t seem to have the same self-belief, nor does he have the same ability to get into key positions and score the vital goals on a regular enough basis.

Max Gradel meanwhile, was trying absolutely everything to find an opening and worked tirelessly throughout. It really did seem like if anything was going to happen, then he’d be involved somewhere along the lines. So, imagine my lack of surprise when it was Max who was removed to finally get Grella on the pitch for his standard fifteen minute cameo appearence. Anyone watching the game knew the right move was to get Gradel alongside Grella and torment Orient into submission, but for whatever reason, Simon Grayson decided to stick by the largely ineffective Becchio for the full 90.

When you’ve had every chance, all the possession and somehow not scored, it’s inevitable you’ll live to regret it and on 83 minutes, Orient took the lead. To be completely honest, I wasn’t even surprised as I’ve seen this happen so many times before, but credit to Leeds. They kept going and fought for an equaliser which came in the dying moments when Bromby’s throw-in caused havoc in the box and an Orient player put the ball over his own line. Lucky would be an understatement, but a point is no less than Leeds deserved.

 So, what did we learn from Orient? The true value of Jermaine Beckford would be my answer. Whether it takes him three chances to score or not, he’d have had fifteen chances in this game and we’d be sitting back on top of League One. Failure to capture another capable striker in the January transfer window may still come back to haunt us. We’d have been better off with Dickov on the pitch, and the thought of him signing for Leeds disgusts me.

The ups

Domination: It was too easy for us to retain possession at times and dictate play, but with no one to turn it into goals, a fixture from which we should have easily taken three points turned in to one where we dropped two.

Attacking options: With a reshuffled midfield, Leeds had a ridiculous amount of attacking options that could cause any team in the division problems. The problem we had however, was that our “Inconsistent, takes him six chances to score” striker wasn’t in the box to convert any of them.

Max Gradel: Good response from Max after the antics of the JPT. Was involved with everything and seems eager to shine for Leeds United.

Keep fighting: The last second equaliser was a tribute to the never-say-die attitude these players have shown all season. Shame we were in the position to need one to start with mind.

The downs

Becchio: It’s not so much Becchio that the problem is with, it’s the lack of a goalscorer alongside him in the last two games. We’ve had the ideal opportunity to let Grella show us what he can do and missed it to accomodate more midfielders than we could ever possibly need. I’m in danger of becoming repetitive but what on earth does Grella have to do to get in the starting XI?

Beckford: Kinda links on from my previous point, but what on earth would we do if Beckford was to become injured for the next three-four months? If Grella isn’t given the chance to shine, then I suspect we’d be freefalling back into the play-offs for another year in League One. All hypothetical of course, but once again I’m worried by our failure to sign another striker in January.

Defence: The difference Kisnorbo makes is ridiculous. The defence had maybe two problems to deal with all afternoon and one of them found the back of the net as no one could challenge for the assisting cross.

  • Henry V

    Excellent report.
    I have thought for some time that Mike Grella should play, even if Jermaine Beckford is fit.
    I would play him out wide.
    He can dribble, and can put in a good cross, and he CAN finish!
    Our crosses and free kicks are abysmal!
    How hard can it be to miss the first man!
    We waste so much from dead balls!!!
    Max! or ‘Mad Max, the Road Warrior’ as I call him.
    He did lose it in the JPT but……
    he was just doing what I would have liked to have done in the first half!
    He was just saying ‘COME ON!!!’
    He reminded me of Billy!!! The clenched fist! “Come on!!!”
    He will do for me!

    Henry.

  • Timmo

    Just read Tres back in training. Wondered where he was. Always an option in my mind

    • Craig

      Hasn’t he had an injury and family problems?

  • derbyshirewhite

    If we can’t beat Walsall, Brighton and Oldham without Kis we’re not really trying are we. Got to have him back fit and fresh for the Galpharm in 2 weeks time. As for Becchio I think he does add something to our overall game and plays a much better defensive role than Grella, but I do agree we’d be stuffed if we had to rely on him for goals.

  • TheReaper08

    Becchio is superb second striker. He will graft, win headers, chase back and chip in with some goals but never enough to be a main striker. Grella comes on towards the end of games and has an impact,in 2 league starts and 20 sub appearences he has scored 1 goal.The goals we all remember are late appearances against such sporting giants as Kettering.

    If we are short upfront I would put McSheffrey up with Becchio but ultimately I would be doing everything I can to get Beckford back, my guess is he would have filled his boots against Orient yesterday.

  • DC

    Yep, good post TSS. I didn’t go to the game and wasn’t able to even listen to it on LUTV – apart from the last 5 mins and the phone-in. But by all reports, we played proper passing football and controlled the game. For me, that’s more important than the actual result. If we can play like that for the rest of the season, I’m sure we’ll get the results and go up.

    Issues: The 2 main issues seem to be the strikers and the defence.

    Strikers. Yep, we definitely miss Becks when he’s not there. We don’t have another natural clinical goalscorer in the squad – although we do have good forwards. I would like to see Grella given more of a chance. But the other problem is that all the strikers (other than Becks) like to drop off and pick up the ball a little deeper. We could do with another striker who’s capable of sitting on the shoulder. That always gives us a chance to go long occassionally. Defences can’t push up too far, thus creating a bit more space in front of the defence to play into. I’m not sure that Dickov is the answer. Maybe a youngster from a Prem team on loan?

    Defence. Well, it’s become clear now that Paddy’s been holding it all together all season. Begs the question as to how come Bromby got a 4 year contract at his age – when he’s no Kisnorbo. Oh well, nothing we can do about it now. We gotta press on, and hope that Paddy will be back soon or the defence will hold out.

    I was very encouraged to see that Johnson and Killa were played centrally. I feel that there’s been a problem in that area in terms of ball retention.

    • TheReaper08

      Dickov is in Canada having a trial with Toronto,I don’t think he was ever being seriously considered.

      Your right about Beckford though,we have got some great players but noone with his natural instinct in the box or general eye for a goal.

  • Grumpy Older Man

    Me and you went to different games TSS, in mine Becchio was a Trogan and Gradel might has well have not been on the pitch.

    • TheReaper08

      What happened to the argument that Becchio doesn’t score a hatful because he works so so hard to feed scatter gun Beckford ? Looks to me like he has had the opportunity lately and not delivered, and that’s without mentioning the bottle job incident for the penalties.

      I like Becchio,in fact I think he is a very high quality second support striker.

    • Craig

      Maybe this reflects the pre-conceived opinions you both had prior to the match?

  • Arniemar

    Pleased to see killa and johnson in the centre of the park yesterday. Can’t be a coincidence that we had so much possession. Doyle’s done ok for us this year, but Howson – for all that he’s a decent player – is the weak link at the moment for me. Need more of a physical presence in there and Howson ain’t it.
    I was surprised too Grella didn’t start. We were toothless yesterday. After becks he’s the next best thing to a goal poacher we’ve got.
    Agree with some of the previous comments, the lack of investment in the transfer window may come back to haunt us. Could have nailed this league by now. Instead it looks like it could be a scramble to secure promotion now.

    • clive connor

      Grayson must see something we all don’t because i can’t understand why he does’nt mix it abot more and give the skillfull grella more opportunity

  • TheReaper08

    Great article TSS but we did sign another striker in the window,Gary McSheffrey. Only we are currently electing to play him on the left wing(appreciate he has played the position before).

    I like Grella but I don’t know if he is the front line out and out striker we need. In the games I have watched he drops too deep and tends to play the link up role. I guess only time will tell but if it was never the intention to start him I would have liked to have seen him loaned out.

    Kandol is on the way back and he could be useful for the run in.

  • Raph

    I agree with reaper about kandol, he looks alot more physically fit than in our first season in this league, could be important! Becchio is a real workhorse and deserves alot of credit if both where fit, given the support from rest of team theyv had this season, becks and bechs could help put this league away

  • Tony Curie’s Curler

    The main core of the team is missing at the moment Kis at the back, All the central midfielders are looking war weary and of course Beckford up front.

    But… Kis will be back soon. Beckford will be back even sooner and Larry has started rotating his midfildeders in time for a big push. Also I think Grella will be a good player for us next season. Granted he’s skillful and has an eye for goal. But I think he’s a little to lightweight for this division. He’ll be more effective as we climb the divisions. We’ll have Kandol on the bench soon and before his problems this season he was a very effective sub that’s not been available to Larry of late.

    Also the loan season is just around the corner and I can see Larry picking up a couple of additions too.

    So don’t panic guy’s, we’ll start to fly soon enough and League One will be a distant memory come next season!

  • Tony Curie’s Curler

    Oh and Becchio has been out for a lot of the season and is just finding his feet. He’s been scoring goals in the last few games, just not in this one. He is a very good second striker and will be the difference for us in a lot of games to come this season.

  • Benjamin Bunny

    17 games left.
    I seem to be approaching every game with such anticipation, does anyone else feel this? Last season was exciting but for me this season isn’t just about getting result over all. i’m actually concentrating on every game we go into. I get a huge rush on a saturday and tuesday when I know were playing, really sets the rest of the day up for me.

    Does anyone know the stats on McSheffery, more about what positions he’s played more often than other positions? Grayson must be playing him on the left for a reason but I did think we’d signed a striker?

    • Tony Curie’s Curler

      Like Becchio and Gradal, McSheffery has had few games this season and needs to be broken in gradually. Within the next few games we’ll see a massive resurgence that will take us all the way to the finish line. I’m normally a pessimist but we have a great deal of quality add that to their desire and I strongly feel we can not only over take Norwich but blow them away. They don’t have a deep squad and the suspensions, tiredness and injuries will take it’s toll on them while we begin to gain our strength.

    • TheReaper08

      McSheffrey has played left wing but he is primarily known as a striker and that is certainly where he played when most prolific.

  • Would play 4 3 3 tonight. Play howson, killa and BJ in the middle with Howson free to roam and score goals like he did last year. play grella wide and Macca close to bechio (or maybe even snoddy instead) whose role is to come short to recieve, lay off then a pass in space to macca and grella running smart lines. we need to score very early or else anything could happen

  • oh, and BTW – thanks bristol:)