Sam levels it for Leeds

The first away game of the season brought a 150 mile round trip to what I’d decided pre-match was a very winnable fixture against Nottingham Forest. On the road again, and in numbers with a 16-seat packed minibus cruising south down the M1. As the beers flowed, my predictions for the game became more and more ridiculous with my cautious 1-1 turning into a 4-2 before we’d even parked up (I’d decided both defences were lousy).

Forest is one of my favourite away grounds in the country, right on the side of the River Trent with a nice ‘away fans welcome’ supporters bar just outside the ground. As I knocked back another pint, I couldn’t help but get a little nostalgic. Seeing the sea of Forest and Leeds replica kits swarm towards the stadium, reflecting in the River Trent, you couldn’t help but think about the history of these two great sides.

With my insides suitably drowned in lager, we headed into the stadium just in time for the kick-off. 4,000 Whites fans were in great voice immediately, and it didn’t take long for the ‘there’s only one Don Revie‘ chant to emerge. Predictably, Forest replied with echoes of ‘Brian Clough, Brian Clough, Brian Clough…‘ filling City Ground – Leeds fans decided this bloke was a bit of a “w**nker” which was an opinion that didn’t sit well with the opposition. It was good to be back!

After three years in League One it was nice to be visiting a club that meant something to Leeds United. I’m not saying Leeds and Forest are bitter rivals, because if anything, we’re more like kindred spirits – two teams that have fallen out of the natural order and are trying to claw their way back. However, the two sides certainly have history and it’s the kind of history that really makes these games stand out.

Forest started brightly and within only the first few minutes they’d had a penalty shout denied and saw a glancing header blocked by Kasper Schmeichel. It didn’t get any better for the Whites either and Forest kept coming. Just 9 minutes into the fixture and Forest took the lead as Dexter Blackwell beat Schmeichel with a header. 1-0 and Leeds were struggling.

The onslaught continued with Earnshaw being denied by the woodwork as Leeds struggled to get a stranglehold on the game. Not even fifteen minutes had passed and Leeds were lucky not to be 3-0 down.

As the game slowed down a little, Leeds started to get a hold of things with a couple of half chances and some much needed time on the ball. As Leeds gained composure and Forest took their foot off the gas, Bradley Johnson sent a cross into the box which Lloyd Sam got on the end of with a glancing header to level the scores at 1-1. Sucker blow for Forest, but ecstacy in the Leeds end.

Half-time and it was nothing but relief for the Whites. After the first fifteen minutes, it was a wonder the scoreline wasn’t embarrassing but Lady Luck seemed to be on our side for once and things were level at City Ground.

Spurred on by the equaliser and lifted by the tireless efforts of the travelling army of Leeds fans, the Whites returned a much better team and set about snatching the three points. Despite several efforts and a second half dominated by Leeds, there was no way through and Lady Luck seemed to have changed ends. A blatant red card was missed by the ref as Gunter stamped on the foot of Sanchez Watt. The resulting handbags at five paces seemed to go for an eternity but the referee gave nothing but a couple of yellows leaving the Leeds fans furious.

In fairness to the ref, he held back from waving his cards about for most of the game and tried to let a fiery encounter keep the pace. It was clearly a sending off – no question about it – but whether he could see the incident clearly or not is debatable and I doubt it would have had much effect on the outcome of the game anyway. All it would have achieved was Forest sticking everyone behind the ball and playing for the draw, depriving us of what had been a very open and attacking battle.

After the first 15 minutes, it looked like the writing was on the wall for Leeds, but after escaping only a goal down 1-1 is a fair reflection of a very good encounter. Forest fans will no doubt be disheartened and the Whites will feel they have plenty to complain about, but I doubt either team can claim they deserved all three points?

Overall, what we witnessed was two teams who will only improve as the season goes on. Leeds are missing a lot of key players, but the new additions are gelling quickly with the team leaving plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Forest meanwhile showed an attacking threat capable of terrorising every defence in this division. I’m told their squad is a little thin, so if they avoid injuries, the play-off’s look likely.

TSS man of the match

Struggled with this one a bit, but going to go with the goalscorer, Lloyd Sam. I’m convinced the wingers will be the difference for Leeds this season and Sam continues to look like the bargain of the summer.

It’s good to be back on the road again – MOT!

  • Cracking write up from a Forest fan in peace. Whilst Gunts was in the wrong and should’ve probably been red carded, Watt responded by lashing out at him from my seat – also a red card offence, retaliation or otherwise.

    So a yellow each is probably best for both sides, neither of us want a suspension at this stage!

    Good luck for the rest of the season.

    • TSS

      Cheers mate,

      I agree. I didn’t actually see the retaliation and have only just heard about it – my view must have been blocked by those jumping up in outrage.

      Personally have no issues with the yellow cards. The match was fiery throughout and a different ref would have ruined it by blowing his whistle every four seconds. The ref today showed good composure and allowed things to run which I was very impressed with, and as you say, we’ve both avoided suspensions because of it (for now at least).

      • Craig

        With the benefit of the Sky replay it also looked as if Watt began the affair with a less obvious nudge of his own. I agree on the cards though.

  • Mark R

    A shakey opening and defensively the team were found wanting again in th e1st 20 mins or so.
    Good to see SG reposnd by amending formation to 442 – more solid.
    Although Bradley delivered a great cross for Sam’s goal – I found his performance frustrating – his crossing and shooting were poor overall.

    Didn’t see Howson make any contribution until late 2nd half – he’s talented but appears to be lacking belief in himself.

    I really think we need some experience in midfield and an attacker to play with Bechio.

    Really impressed with Sam .

    The whole back four – worry me. It is a hard call for SG but he needs to inject some pace into central defence. I’d seriously consider a position for Bruce,

    Is it me or is Connolly is not as convincing as I thought he would be ? Bessone as well come to that.

    Kasper made a great instinctive save very early in the game.

    All said it was a good point and we were close to snatching all 3.

    Millwall are on a roll though and that will be the toughest game to date – can’t help but admire Jackett’s work on his limited resources.
    I hope we go with conviction into the Transfer market this week for a midfielder & striker.

    MOT

  • trueyorxman

    Talk about a game of 3 halves!! First 30mins I thought we we’re in for a reet tonking, but after that I was pleasantly surprised to see us turn the game around. What about the penalty we should have had, never mind the Gunter/Sam altercation. And what a following…it’s an honour to support this club, MOT.

  • Mikelufc

    Thanks again for taking the trouble to write another great report after all that lager (yuk) -:) Tetley bitter man me or any proper ale with flavour.

    • Craig

      @mikelufc

      I didn’t have TSS as a lager man either Mike. I’m surprised anyone can write such a good report with so much gas in the system.

  • Ollie

    I watched the game on Sky and thought we looked good once we changed to 4-4-2 around the 30 minute mark, Sam was excellent and Bessone gradually grew into the left fullback role as the come progressed. Bradley Johnson was once again a little infuriating though he looked much more comfortable once the formation change came into play, and it was a beauty of a cross for the equaliser. Kasper looks like the solid confident keeper we have missed for a while now and the early save would have gone in last season.

    The Gunter incident was a case of Watt treading on his toe as he walked into position (though it looked accidental), Gunter then appeared to punch him in the back and stamp on his foot, it provoked Bradley Johnson into throwing his weight around for once.

    Overall I would have been happy with a point before the game, though I can’t help be be a teeny bit disappointed that we didn’t snatch it.

    Great report again TSS keep ‘em coming.

  • TSS

    @Mark R

    As you may have noticed I’ve laid off the criticism of Bessone and Connolly because I think the problem stems from Naylor and Collins in the centre. For one, no one (aside from Kasper who never shuts up, bless him!) takes control and issues orders. But most importantly, they appear to be moving inwards to compensate for the lack of pace Collins and Naylor have who often get caught napping. This leaves HUGE gulfs of area unaccounted for on both wings, as was seen far too often today.

    I’m digressing, but it’s interesting to see the relationship Kasper has immediately formed. He was the one hyping the team up as I walked in and was also on the halfway line issuing instructions and spurring them on when the game stopped for “that” incident.

    @trueyorxman

    Totally agree with regards to support. It was another in a long line of proud moments following this club away.

    As for the penalty? I assumed it wasn’t as no one really reacted and I couldn’t really tell.

  • Mikelufc

    Is it just my obsession with larrys favouritism or do we actually play better when Howson has the armband and maybe this has something to do with jonny not doing so well when naylor is playing.
    It would be interesting to know howsons win/match ratio as Skipper.

    • Craig

      @mikelufc

      Its your obsession.

    • timm

      Well if we do play better when he has the armband Mike it’s pure coincidence. Howson had no more than a dozen good games last season & was shite yesterday. He’s no captain. I think you’ll find it’s more to do with SGs formations & players that were available at the time, & absolutely nothing to do with Howson being Captain Marvel!

  • Ron

    First of all, thanks for the report and thanks to the 4000 away fans for making the effort. If that isn’t enough for Bates to open his purse, nothing can. Granted we have injuries, but at the end of the day, the chances for the opposition in the past 2 weeks have been embarrassing. Better teams will be 3 nil up given the same space. It may well be Christmas by the time Kisnorbo is match fit, so in the interim, Grayson must bring down a premiership defender to add some steel and leadership. Schmeichel can’t do it all.

    I too am happy with our width and pace in attack, but I’d like a proven goalscorer signing on very soon to take advantage of this. We have to wait for the premiership squads to be set before any action I’m afraid. I just hope Paynter gets back very soon. Confidence is everything for a striker and injury does little for a player’s conviction.

    I would have been happy with either Koren or Koumas joining our squad, we look a little green in that part of the pitch.

    Roll on Millwall. This will be the game that sorts out who wants and deserves a Leeds shirt.

  • Jacques Cockell

    Awful first half decent second, we certainly looked more likely to score, Sam was fantastic,
    Paul Connoly was awful, can’t wait for Kisnorbo, as well as Gradel and Snodgrass to return!

  • Hugh Fox

    Slow at the blocks to say the least. I thourght the big difference was that in the 2nd half our midfield started to play. We bossed the 2nd half but am still happy with a point, not many teams will come away from there with a point this season. Naylor not good enough. Who would snoddy come back in for??? If we played like we did in the 2nd half we could beat anyone.

    • timm

      I don’t think it’s fair to single out Naylor today? He was no worse than Collins & far better than Connolly.

    • Tim Wilsom

      Howson or Kilkenny will probably make way, they’ve both been way too quiet so far, Johnsons getting involved plenty but as was said, wellies :) Great second half, two chances to take the spoils.

    • Craig

      @foxy101

      Your question about who Snoddy would replace is a good one. Given the fact that he’ll be off the pace once fit, I think he may struggle to get into the team if Watt + Sam keep their form. We also have Somma waiting in the wings and Gradel after Saturday.

  • timm

    Some might think it’s unfair to criticise a player who puts in a great cross for the goal, but Johnson is infuriating. He does all the hard work brilliantly & gets into great positions but then he crosses or shoots like he’s wearing wellies! He needs to spend an hour at the end of every training session practising his shooting & passing. Also, until Johnny Howson poppedup to help that ball along to Johnson, i thought he must’ve gone into Nottingham to do some shopping! Was he supposed to be playing in a deeper role to protect the back four? Two players who have the potential to run the show in midfield but they both flatter to deceive in my opinion.

    • Craig

      I agree that Johnson is infuriating and I hope that Somma is given an opportunity to play in his place now he’s available. Howson was totally anonymous yesterday – maybe it was because he was asked to play a different role.

  • Colin

    I missed the game today as I was holiday. Were Leeds lucky? Was Naylor really bad again?

    I was a bit critical after the Derby game but it does seem like Leeds are giving it a go, and I still think we’re a million miles away from being a promotion winning club. But, If Paynter is actually decent and Snodgrass performs at his best, then this Leeds team is going to get better and we’ve not been humiliated by any teams yet and seem to be holding our own.

    Maybe there’s an opportunity for us to get some real form going once everyone’s fit and available. Okay 1 point from 2 games, but maybe in a month or so’s time we can start getting regular points and get ourselves into a good solid position?

  • Colin

    One other thing I meant to say is that Leeds don’t look like a team that’s getting relegated and that has to be the first priority!

    • timm

      Agreed Colin. Many of us who are realistic have said that we’ll be happy with mid-table this season, but it’s only natural that we’re disappointed when we don’t win. Based on the players we’re missing, im sure we’ll be ok. I just hope we’re not going to have a Beckford style witch-hunt against Naylor, we came under massive pressure in todays game & he did as well as anyone else & you could never question his commitment & loyalty.

  • Tim Wilsom

    Toss up for man of the match, Referee or the Leeds fans, you buggers were great, here’s to ya. Ref was great, players lying in apparent agony and he waves play on, brilliant.

  • Bill Fox

    I thought in 2nd half we showed we will be competitive in this league. Yes we still need the 2 we all know we need but the midfield got a grip, pushed forward well and Kasper had a reasonably quiet 45. Only one side looked liked winning it in the last 20 and that nasty Billy Davies knew it. Well done boys.

  • AussieWhite

    Agree with most of the comments, we were all at sea for the first 15 minutes or so until Larry changed the formation. I think that Naylor is clearly struggling, as he had his hands on his hips for their goal and every time he was on camera he had his hands on his hips. I play over 35’s here in Aus and permanently have my hands on my hips as I’m usually blowing out of my arse after the first 5 minutes (too much of the amber nectar).

    I thought that Collins didn’t play too bad myself as he seemed to be covering the whole of the back line at times and Bessone looked a hell of a lot better than he did for the Derby game. Killa worked tirelessly and Sam was a real handful for the opposition. All in all, once the formation had been changed, it was a decent effort by the lads and I’m sure that we will get even better once all the injuries and suspensions are out of the way.

  • Mark R

    Morning TSS,

    Fair point on our fullbacks tucking in to compensate for lack of pace in central defence. Great to hear Kasper is trying to marshall those infront of him as well.

    Another compensation is that we play a deep back 4 line. Understand Nottm had a pacy attack – but still we were very deep. Consequence is that the midfield is stretched between defence & attack – this means our players are spaced pretty far apart and gives the opposition more chance to break down our movement of the ball.

    Howson, Kilkenny, & Johnson have spent more time off the ball running around covering ground than actually on the ball – especially Killa and Howson yesterday.

    The 442 formation as we have seen is far more solid and protects any weakness in the back 4 – and suits the players available at the moment > more than any variation on 433 – which is the formation SG has tried to initially use vs. Derby & Nottm.

    A bit of speed Central defence, playing a higher line defensively – has the potential to give our midfielders more time on the ball and be more effective.Better all round for the team.

    If there ar eno new recruits this week – then arguabley SG should start with 442.

    One point at Forest is a good result after weathering the 1st half onslaught.There’s a lot of positives and potential to improve.

    Bring on M***wall.

    MOT

  • les irwin

    a game of 2 halves we should have been 2/3 down .but we also should have won it in second half , watt should have done better .that lad gunter should have been off and i feel will get a ban retrospectively it was nothing but the laws the law .we are doing ok seems to be the defence but CAN YOU DROP YOUR CAPTAIN ??????? i think bruce and collins look a better pair at the moment .sam seems like a bargain at the moment .millwall will be tricky but we are not doing so bad, all in all room for inprovement but the panic button has been put away another week

  • les irwin

    just thought i would mention the empty seats aswell there was quite a few in the forest end behind the goal .is there ground too big for them

    • URED

      Number1inyorkshire(?)
      I assume you did not go or watch on TV your game last week against the Sheep.
      I saw loads of empty seats and the top teir of your stand opposite the TV cameras closed!! maybe your ground is too big for you!!!

  • Old Billy White

    As nearly everyone has said, we are short of pace in the centre of defence, which was also the case at the end of last season. In addition Collins and Naylor are not comfortable on the ball. Should bruce be given a chance in the back four or just in front?
    Watt & Sam give us much needed pace and skill, can we also accommodate Snodgrass & Gradel? If not who would be left out?
    A good point, and a good recovery after the first 20 mins.

  • Mark R

    AS Old Billy White points out , we have some players returning from injury who perhaps we would expect to be in the team > Snodgrass, Gradel, Kisinorbo, Paynter, Parker. Of these I’d expect Snodgrass & Kisonorbo to walk into the team.Paynter needs a run of several matches. Max may find himself in an area with most competition.

    The team as it is has started reasonabley with some key players out.

    It’s all looking good, and much more so than Big Spending Middleboro.

    MOT

  • Forest supporter here. Good report and fair comment from most. I thought that your change of formation was the turning point, unfortunately for us we didn’t really have a plan B to match.

    Cannot comment on the Gunter incident as it was at the far end and haven’t seen it on TV yet, but most Reds agree that he probably should have gone – I can only assume ref and lino missed it as well and booked both for the fracas. Ref was pretty good by the way.

    If I were a Leeds fan, I would be concerned about my defence – Connolly, Collins and Naylor seemed scared of the ball and all of the back four looked terrified every time we ran at you. It reminded me of when a teenage defender makes his first appearance and wants to play it safe, so he hoofs it into the stand every time he gets the ball.

    I am convinced both teams will do OK this term, and both will certainly improve as the season goes on.

    • TSS

      Hi Rish, cheers for the comments.

      I think the problem with the defence starts and finishes with Richard Naylor. His legs have gone so he gets caught out of position constantly and the rest of the backline scramble to cover (leaving themselves exposed in the process). Add to that his newly found fear of tackling and the back-line looks positively ridiculous. Thank God we have Kasper to bail us out.

      • timm

        As i said before, Naylor was no better or worse than the rest yesterday. In Collins we have a player who constantly puts the ball out of play, even when he has ample opportunity to bring it down & play it to Kasper. Defenders are always forgiven for this because you could argue that it’s their job, but for me it shows that he has either very limited ability or very little confidence in his ability. Let’s also not forget that we have a young midfield (whose legs haven’t gone!) who give absolutely no protection to our back four. They just shadow the opposition players without making a challenge & then leave them alone when they get to the final third.

        • TSS

          @timm

          However infuriating it can be to see the ball hoofed off field again and again, the difference between Nayls and Collins is that Collins wasn’t scared to stick a foot in, where Naylor most certainly has been!

          • timm

            We’ll agree to differ on that one TSS. In my opinion both Connolly & Collins were inferior to Naylor yesterday. That’s not to say i don’t think Naylor’s been poor recently, but i do think Leeds fans have a tendency to single out one player & focus on their faults whilst choosing to ignore the shortcomings of others. Howson was worse than useless yesterday & we can’t afford anonymous passengers in our midfield at this level. The first real line of defence is midfield & our midfield is giving zero protection to our back four. It amazes me that Howson can be so woeful but gets so little criticism on here, It’s easy to single out Naylor every week, but i thought he did ok yesterday considering he was on the end of a Forest onslaught & he was getting no help from his shadow chasing midfielders. He has his shortcomings but at least he takes responsibility. Can you say that about Howson & Kilkenny?

  • PS Shameless self-promotion – our match report and podcast on the match are available here: http://www.eighteensixtyfive.co.uk/2010/08/scrappy-leeds/ (I didn’t choose the headline!)

    • Colin

      nice podcast, a bit too forest orientated though :)

  • steve underwood

    Ok i have been critical of the defence but if you take out first 15 mins then kasper had nothing to do against wat i think is best attack in championship so lets give some credit problem we have is howson doing nothing on sunday would swap him for bruce on sat but grayson seems to have a blind spot with him

  • millwall till i die

    you lot are pathetic got a measly draw and 1 point out of two games, you just wait till we come across you boys next week, 1st week it was 3-0, 2nd week it was 4-0 and im predicting a 5-0 smashing of you poxy losers

    • TSS

      Haha, getting a little carried away aren’t you? You’ll be telling us you’re going to win the league after three games if you win, I have no doubts!

      You do have good reason to be optimistic ahead of next week however. Our recent record against you is dismal, we have several key players missing and you’ve started in good form. Still, don’t count your chickens…

    • timm

      @millwall till i die. Firstly ’till’ is something you keep money in. Secondly, Fuck Off you stupid inbred bastard. Knees up mother braaarn, jellied eels, nice cuppa splosh, Pearly King, Guvnor. I’d say see you next week but i doubt you could find your way out of Rovverhive.

  • millwall till i die

    i wont be counting chickens ill be counting the amount of times you beloved kasper is picking the ball out of his net, and how many points clear of you lot we are after just 3 games, your so called fortress otherwise known as elland road isnt going to have seen such a beating

    • TSS

      You’ve played two games! Seriously, I’ve never seen a set of fans get so carried away after two matches. On this basis, Blackpool are dead certs for the Champions League

  • leeds through and through

    ignore this idiot TSS he isnt worth the time, clearly a kid in his school holidays with no mates to go out with that wants to be a big man

  • Colin

    We’ll see Millwall, we’ll see. I think squad depth will come into play later on in the season. Leeds have a handful of players to come back and that will make Leeds stronger. Still Millwall have made a good start and just need to keep doing what they’re doing as it seems to be working pretty well.

  • millwall till i die

    shut up colin you dont actually have a clue you senseless pr**k

    • Colin

      Millwall, I was actually giving your team a compliment – Millwall have some good fans and the odd arsehole. You’re an odd arsehole.

    • richie harris

      fuck off u cockney cunt

      • millwall till i die

        —DELETED DUE TO BORING REPETITIVE NATURE OF CONTENT—

        • TSS

          Go away child. I doubt you’ll even be at Elland Road, and judging by your grammar and stupidity, you’re clearly about 11. I don’t think the Leeds fans are going to be beating kids up!

  • leeds through and through

    now hes a big man throwing around big insults says alot for the millwall fans of this world, your embarressing yourself and your own team little boy

  • Mark R

    Millwally …
    You’re really living up to the cliche aren’t you son ?
    Now jog on – there’s a goodlad.

  • Colin

    Just seen the highlights of the game and it really isn’t favourable towards Naylor. Absolutely awful defending by Naylor for the Forest goal. He stands off Blackstock and then actually ducks underneath the ball that goes into the net. Collins goes mad with Naylor afterwards.

    Then when it all kicks off with the stamp, Naylor goes in having a pop at some other Forest player who had nothing to do with the incident and has to be held back and pulled away by Howson.

    2 games gone and 2 awful performances by Naylor. Yet another horror show from Naylor – i’m sorry but i’m not picking on him, he is actually terrible at this level.

  • Graham Hugill

    For all of Naylors failings on Sunday the thing that wound me up the most was the numerous times that Collins smashed the ball straight out of play whilst under no pressure whatsoever. The bloke is ridiculous and clearly has massive limitations.

    • Craig

      OK, but at least Collins manages to get to the ball…

  • Graham Hugill

    Having said that I do think that the lack of any type of cover from central midfield is unfairly exposing our defensive frailties.

  • dfsdfsd

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    What are the fifth and sixth characters of the following sequence?

  • millwall till i die

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  • Craig

    Well done TSS – at least I assume it was you who deleted the above posts. The alternative could be that Millwall till I die’s brain is trying to save the world from his inanity.