Leeds crash out early in League Cup, but Somma-loving continues TSS August 24, 2010 Match reviews 17 Comments League Cup round two at Elland Road was never going to be the most inspiring of encounters against a Leicester side who probably treat it with as little significance as we do ourselves. Nevertheless, still early days in the new season and plenty of faces on both sides no doubt eager to impress their manager as their respective teams look to gain momentum. Unsurprisingly, there was several changes for Leeds United with the return of Max Gradel after his suspension, Alex Bruce handed a start, Shane Higgs returned to the starting line-up and Davide Somma awarded for his brace against Millwall with a full 90 minutes. Max Gradel was the stand-out player in the opening exchanges, desperate to prove his worth after missing the first four games through suspension. Max will have watched on from afar as his replacements, Lloyd Sam and Sanchez Watt impressed the Leeds fans in the opening fixtures. Gradel also had the added incentive of getting one over on his former club, but his eagerness to impress sometimes got the better of him as the winger took one touch too many and lost sight of the bigger picture. Gradel’s persistance eventually paid off though, and it was his cross that provided the opening goal for Davide Somma. The impressive frontman made it three in two games as his clever movement in the box left him in yards of space to head home and give Leeds the lead just after the half hour mark. Aside from some amusing attempts to start a Davide Somma song to the tune of MC Hammer – Can’t Touch This (“..Stop… Somma-time..”) from a couple of lads stood next to me, the rest of the first half was pretty uneventful. Thankfully, the second half started with a bit more pace courtesy of Max Gradel, who went on a mazy run into the Leicester City box. After twisting and turning his way through to create space, Max’s shot was deflected into the path of Luciano Becchio who somehow missed an absolute sitter from no more than six yards. Leeds continued to look the better of the two sides with Johnson and Gradel both having chances. But the pace in the game once again died, and Leeds were duly punished as Leicester caught the Leeds United defense napping and leveled the scores. A deflection and some lousy defending allowed Leicester too much time and some quick passing ended with Richie Wellens handed an easy finish to punish the Whites. It should have been 2-1 shortly afterwards as well, but an exceptional save from Shane Higgs kept the scores level. Clearly, Leeds United needed some fresh blood and Simon Grayson was quick to act bringing on Andy Hughes and Sanchez Watt. By now, Leicester had grown in confidence and Leeds started to look a bit desperate. Mis-placed passes and over-hit long balls were becoming common-place. The 16,000 strong Leeds United faithful started to fear that extra-time and a penalty shoot-out were inevitable, but even that turned out to be optimistic. Out of absolutely nothing, Leicester won a decisive penalty after Neill Collins handled the ball in the area. A rolled finish straight into the bottom corner gave Shane Higgs no chance, and Leicester led with just 90 seconds and stoppage time remaining. Of the four and a half minutes remaining, the best Leeds United could muster was a free-kick and a corner, neither of which were delivered particularly well and Leeds United exited the League Cup in a disappointing manner, without ever really showing what the team is capable of. Hardly heartbreaking stuff for the Leeds fans, but it’s hard to deny that the manner in which we exited the competition was disappointing. For the first half, Leeds probably had the edge and deservedly led at the break, but some sloppy defending cost us dearly and Leicester grew in confidence. From there on in, Leeds lost all composure and too many mis-placed passes and desperate long-balls ultimately cost us the game. On a more positive note, Davide Somma scored again, Max Gradel showed moments of brilliance on his return, Shane Higgs made an exceptional save to keep us in it and a few of the fringe players got a good run out. It’s a commonly held belief that our cup exploits cost us the title last season, so an early exit isn’t a major concern. I don’t think this will affect league form too much either as the players will know where their priorities lie and will look to re-group quickly before the weekend. TSS man of the match For sheer persistence and hard-work, I’d say Max Gradel. One touch too many and failure to pick out the easy option got annoying, but it’s obvious the lad was desperate to impress on his return. He provided the two most notable moments of the game too, assisting in Somma’s goal and almost adding a second early in the second half.