Leeds United moved back into second place with a comfortable win over a Carlisle side with one of the worst central defensive partnerships you’re ever likely to see.

It was the strange cycle of League One results that helped Leeds United clinch back an automatic place. Only a couple of weeks back, Millwall strolled to a 2-0 victory over Leeds United. Leeds finally got back to winning ways however with a win over Yeovil Town, so logic suggests that Millwall are better than Leeds, Leeds are better than Yeovil so Millwall should pretty much walk past Yeovil. Unfortunately for Millwall, logic is something that rarely applies to League One and it was only a last gasp goal that clinched them a 1-1 draw.

Leeds meanwhile had a much easier time of it as they exploited a weak Carlisle defence without the help of top-goalscorer Jermaine Beckford. Before Leeds registered their first goal, Max Gradel missed what was a great one on one chance v the Carlisle keeper and Richard Naylor had a header ruled out for what I assume was pushing in the box. Snoddy also had a chance to put Leeds ahead but blazed his shot high over the bar as Carlisle’s defensive pairing – which included former Leeds United left-back Ian Harte – struggled to cope. All this, and the clock had only just hit ten minutes.

Just a few minutes later and Leeds took the lead they deserved with Luciano Becchio opening the scoring. A free-kick from Snoddy looked easy for the Carlisle keeper, but he spilled his catch and Luci was on hand to give Leeds United the lead.

The game continued in much the same manner with Luci missing a chance that was easier to score and Max Gradel losing out on another one on one chance against the Carlisle keeper. It’s no exaggeration when I say Leeds United should have been four or five goals up by this point.

As we’ve seen so many times however, failing to take your chances usually leads to you being punished and there was no let off here for the Whites. Minutes before half time Ian Harte whipped in a powerful free-kick which was weighted perfectly for Richard Keogh to direct it home and level the tie at the interval. As bad as Ian Harte was in defence, he was Carlisle’s biggest threat elsewhere. His perfectly hit free-kick made it all too easy for Keogh to level the tie. 1-1

A frustrating interval for the Leeds United faithful who almost unanimously agreed Beckford would have had a hattrick by now. Although definitely out of form lately, it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t have had a field day with the endless chances Leeds United wasted and the sheer uselessness of Carlisle’s defence.

Despite the wasted chances of the opening 45 minutes, Simon Grayson stood by his starting line-up and was rewarded almost instantly when Max Gradel fired Leeds United back in front. Leeds pressed forward immediately from the restart and with the first proper attack of the second period a cross landed nicely for Gradel who headed home to put Leeds back in front.

Just three minutes later and the game was over when a ball from Gradel set Luciano Becchio free who slotted home to put the game totally beyond Carlisle’s reach with forty minutes left to go. Euphoria broke out in the away end with the Leeds fans fully aware of the score in Yeovil and sensing there may be more to come for the Whites. “Na na na na na na na, Leeds are going up!” A welcomed return for that chant.

The Leeds fans were now urging Luciano Becchio on to finish his hattrick and he was gifted the perfect opportunity but his header from close range lacked direction and was far too easy for the opposition keeper. However happy he’ll be with the two goals, Luci must be disappointed with the series of easy chances he missed.

The game kind of died off with Leeds comfortably in front and Carlisle posing little threat. Beckford and Grella got a bit of a cameo role with a couple of minutes left to play but this was probably more time wasting than anything else as neither had any chance to score with the team seemingly happy with the scoreline.

Can’t help thinking this should have been closer to a rugby score, but it was total dominance from Leeds. Three straight wins and back in the automatic spot so can’t complain really.

Leeds without Beckford

Hard to say we were better without him because Carlisle’s defence was pathetic and he’d have probably had a field day had he started. Some of the chances Luci missed were criminal, but not surprising as he’s never been the most natural of goalscorers (and may not be 100% match fit). I guess the major difference is that Luci relies on hard work to get his goals, whilst Beckford gets his with clever positioning and by playing off the shoulder of the last man. In this game, Beckford would have definitely been more effective, but in those games where the chances are few and far between, the hard-working partnership of Becchio and Gradel would likely pay off. A definite thinking point for Larry as the debate undoubtedly rages on…

TSS man of the match

Despite my criticism of his missed chances, Luci’s hard work paid off and he won us the game so the man of the match could be no one elses. I know it sounds like I’m yoyo-ing a bit here, but two six yard misses are hard to ignore. Still, he never gave up, kept his head high and sent us back to Yorkshire with three points.

  • Chareose

    Good post but as others have pointed out the beckford transfer saga was what started our troubles and maybe team morale, effics and cohesion are better without Becks….. Personaly I do beleivie its a mess that the Club, the fans and Beckford created, all parties have been at fault so im glad we appear to have moved on but a shame we let it happen :o)

    • Tony

      Sometimes, when you’re feeling important,
      Sometimes, when your ego’s in bloom,
      Sometimes, when you take it for granted
      You’re the best qualified in the room.

      Sometimes, when you feel that your going
      Would leave an unfilled hole,
      Just follow this simple instruction,
      and see how it humbles your soul:

      Take a bucket and fill it with water,
      Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
      Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining
      Is a measure of how you’ll be missed.

      You may splash all you please when you enter,
      You can stir up the water galore,
      But stop, and you’ll find in a minute
      That it looks quite the same as before.

      The moral of this quaint example
      Is to do just the best that you can;
      Be proud of yourself, but remember,
      There is no indispensable man.

      Bye Bye Beckford and thanks for all the goals

      MOT

  • Chareose

    also no becks may encourage other team players to try and score

    • TSS

      The Beckford transfer saga undoubtedly started this (well, if you ignore Bates refusal to give him a decent contract offer) and at the time I thought we should sell him as I didn’t want a player, no matter how good, playing in white that didn’t want to be here.

      That said, for the most part Beckford has kept his head down and done exactly the same as before. It’s only his recent slip of form that’s led to the criticism (whether deserved or not) and the whole thing being dragged up again.

      What last night probably did prove is that no ones immune from being benched. That probably sprung a few of our more wasteful players into life and made them believe they were playing for their place once again. Beckford would have had a field day against that defence, but the positive effect this may have in the long run is probably worthwhile.

      Didn’t mention it above, but Beckford was the model sportsman when he came on for the cameo. He saluted and clapped the away fans and didn’t whinge at all. He’s been frustrated through the lack of goals lately, as we all have, and that leads him to whinge. Maybe knowing there’s other people capable of producing the goods when he’s struggling has helped lift his mood.

      • Craig 1919

        Yeah he gave the Leeds solute, pointed at his badge, waved at fans however I can only see this as a parting gesture saying thanks to us Leeda fans for our non stop support. I disgree with your MOTM in my eyes Gradel for the 3td game in a row showed just why he should have been playingvibstead if McSheffrey, he chased, tackled, harassed, got a great touch for Lucis second goal and was a non stop menace all evening… I also loved at about 80 minutes gone he got the fans singing further asking us to lift the decibel level, he clearly loves been a Leeds player.

        We can’t get too carried away with last nights game because as good as we were Carlisle were just as poor, they looked clueless and don’t seem to have an idea without kavanagh.

        • TSS

          Meant to give Gradel a mention too actually, but I went with Luci because of the impressive comeback he’s made in the last two games. Can’t argue Gradel wasn’t equally as deserving though, the lads been an absolute class act lately.

          • Craig 1919

            Yeah I agree with that actually, Becchios form is peaking at our most desperate time, he did look knackered after about 70 minutes looked like he had a stitch but battled on. Gillingham is going to be a very tough away game, I heard too many fans in the terracing getting a little too over excited proclaiming we are gonna have an easy time if things on Saturday.

          • paull

            Gillingham’s home record would have them just outside the play offs if their away form was half decent. On top of that they’ve only conceded twelve at home all season a record only matched by Millwall. So if anyone thinks Saturday is going to be easy should think again. It will be interesting to see who SG goes with up front on the day. Personally I think whoever it is we should get behind them 100 per cent. 0-1 will be good enough for me it’s a tough tough place to get anything from. Come on you whites MOT.

  • Choppers

    Good to see Grayson trying something different, if anything a well rested Beckford can’t be a bad thing.

    I saw the Millwall goal as well, gosh the Yeovil keeper has had a mare with that one he must have been tired, but he has nothing else to do all game. Millwall were very bad apparently, interesting that both Swindon and Millwall dropping points this week, perhaps the pressure was off us and back on them, hopefully it will now stay on them as we quietly go about our business

    • Craig

      And Millwall are at Huddersfield on FRIDAY night! The same Huddersfield who scored two late goals to win 4-3 last night and are desperate to stay in the playoff places. Bring it on!

      • timm

        Let’s hope for a Huddersfield victory. If Charlton draw with Norwich & we win we could start eyeing the title again! I bet Grayson’s still fancying it? I know i’m really stating the obvious here but this weekend’s massive! I actually think Gillingham could be tougher than Charlton. We could do with Southampton slipping too because i reckon if they make the play-offs they’ll go up. All obvious stuff here but just thinking out loud!

        • TSS

          If we do get promoted, the Championship looks extremely tough. Not only have we got the teams coming down from the Prem to contend with, but Norwich and possibly money-bags Southampton going up. Add all the established teams and mid-table would be a success in my eyeS?

          • Craig 1919

            Personally I’d accept any form of Championship survival I’d promoted whether that’s goal difference etc we have the potential to be like Forest or Leicester however we could also follow in Peterboroughs footsteps as well so for me any form of survival or consolidation would be acceptable. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet though we have 4 must win games I’m just hoping the positive vibe the players are showing on the pitch will be enough to get us out if this god aweful league

  • TSS – you been on the turps?
    From my armchair I saw Gradel win the header (beating 2 of our own players in the process to score). Their goal would not have happened had our defender put his body on the line instead of doing some funny sort of shimmy next to keogh. Becchio’s second was not a ball over the top, but rather the result of an effective tackle/pass to Gradel who slipped it nicely first time on the deck through to becchio who was on the run (very nice and confident finish)
    I really liked the goal celebrations as they said alot about the new team unity.

    • TSS

      Was a bit tipsy, not had much sleep (5am start) and was still celebrating previous goal but could have sworn the ball came over the top. Will take your word for it though and correct.

    • LezToomey

      Well said that man, that is exactly what happened, lovely little ball through for Beccio, no luck he knew what he was doing….. anyway as the saying goes, you make your own luck.

      Sadly Mark you can’t please some people any of the time! would be nice just to able to say well done.

      • TSS

        Gradel’s goal I knew was a header but worded it badly so have corrected, but as for Luci’s, I could have sworn that ball came over the top. Checked the replay – http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcxs9h_carlisle-1-v-leeds-3-13-04-10_sport – and you’re spot on. Worst thing about it is I’m only about five rows behind the goal! I blame sleep deprivation after being stuck in traffic and starting at 5am. (Alcohol probably didn’t help either mind. Still feel a bit tipsy now)

        MOT!

        • KoreanNick

          Erm, what was the keeper doing for the third? and the first actually? what a nightmare!

  • LezToomey

    I think its interesting to assume that Beckford would have had a hat full, which he might against a very poor defence. We generally struggle up there and Grayson was spot on to put hard working players in from the start. The feeling will have been (from us all probably) that if we were to get anything last night, we would have to grind out the result. This didn’t turn out to be the case. However my question would be, would we still have created all those chances if Beckford played? who would he have started for, presumably Beccio or Gradel… who both worked incredibly hard to create chances and openings for the team…..

    I think credit where credit is due, well done Grayson, management team and players. I don’t see how he can or should change the team on Saturday, a game that I fear will not be as easy and we will have to grind out a result. The more Gradel & Beccio play the sharper they will get and the goals will continue to come. Not only that, but what a great sub Beckford is to bring on against tired defenders.

    It’s all in our Hands now, no room for anymore slip ups and I think we will all be Duddersfield supporters on Friday night. With Charlton playing Norwich and Swindon playing Walsall (who played really well with Ten men at Duddersfield), after the weekend can we dare to dream? Not too bothered what the others do now, like a say its up to us, But would be nice to be able to go into the last game knowing that at least a draw or win seals promotion.

    • Craig

      And our final game is against a team who have nothing to play for and were thumped 5-1 at home last night!

    • TSS

      I stand by my theory that Becks would have had a field day because they missed their centre-back massively and were woeful when put under pressure. Harte’s lack of pace and tackling ability were at times comical. Becks would have torn him apart. Still, have to agree that Max and Luci did well together and their performances will inspire belief.

  • oldhamwhite

    lets not be to hasty with hartey! after all hes a leeds fan through and through ha

    MOT

  • the saddest thing for me is that having supported leeds for 44 years, I am yet to feel the elland road buzz. Lotto tomorrow night is a bigun so will be there with bells on should i even get 2nd division. my wife lived in leeds for a while so I’m sure she would want to come along as well:)
    warm pints mmmmm

  • Tony

    Sometimes, when you’re feeling important,
    Sometimes, when your ego’s in bloom,
    Sometimes, when you take it for granted
    You’re the best qualified man in the room.

    Sometimes, when you feel that your going
    Would leave an unfilled hole,
    Just follow this simple instruction,
    and see how it humbles your soul:

    Take a bucket and fill it with water,
    Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
    Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining
    Is a measure of how you’ll be missed.

    You may splash all you please when you enter,
    You can stir up the water galore,
    But stop, and you’ll find in a minute
    That it looks quite the same as before.

    Bye bye Beckford and thanks for all the goals

    • Tony

      The moral of this quaint example
      Is to do just the best that you can;
      Be proud of yourself, but remember,
      There is no indispensable man.

  • Leeds4eva

    I wish Carlile were this clueless in the JPT.

  • Will

    I do remain a Grayson sceptic, but my MOM last night would be Grayson himself for at last making one necessary and long overdue change to the team – the dropping of a sulky, disinterested, and unprofessional Beckford.

    That said, all reports indicate Carlisle were very poor, and going in to HT at 1-1 was probably better for us than leading 1-0 with their equaliser coming shortly after the start of the 2nd half given the horrible wobble much in evidence at Yeovil.

    Anyway kudos to Grayson – his first tactical masterstroke in the league in 2010!

    Winning SHOULD breed confidence, and the same again at Gilligham will leave this fan startig to believe what seemed impossible after the Swindon debacle.

    They key impression I am left with is that the team appear united, suprisingly so after Grayson’s “playing for your career” comment imo, but what do I know?!!! Nada!