Whites two strong for goal shy Robins TSS February 13, 2011 Match reviews 22 Comments Leeds United reverted back to 4-5-1 for the visit to Ashton Gate with Davide Somma dropping to the bench and Neil Kilkenny returning to central midfield. On-loan Aston Villa full-back Eric Lichaj also came in, in place of the injured Paul Connolly as Leeds looked to build on their 1-0 win over Coventry City and cement their place in the top six. What we witnessed was one of those rare occasions where the game went according to the script. Going into this match, Leeds United had lost just once in the last 17 fixtures whilst Bristol City were flirting with the relegation zone. The difference between the two sides was vast. The Leeds United players looked physically stronger and quicker than their Bristol counterparts and the first half was one of near total dominance. Leeds were first to every ball, dominating the centre of the park, intercepting under hit passes from the opposition and catching Bristol in possession time and time again. The dominance didn’t quite translate into a host of scoring opportunities, but when Leeds broke into the final third, the brilliance of Robert Snodgrass and Max Gradel down the wings was causing Bristol problems which their full-backs simply couldn’t deal with. When the opening goal came on 17 minutes, it was no surprise the two wide players were the ones celebrating. Max Gradel released Snodgrass inside the box, who jinked his way past a hopeless looking Bristol City defender before firing beyond a helpless David James. 0-1, and Leeds United momentarily looked like Arsenal. Try as they may, Bristol City struggled to respond to the opening goal and Leeds United continued to dominate the fixture with calm and collective passing triangles that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Premier League. This was clever from Leeds United, allowing them to regroup and halt Bristol City’s attempts to respond, before pushing on for a second. Bristol tried to pressure the Whites late in the first half but Leeds cruised comfortably into half-time without Bristol City ever posing a real threat to the goal of Kasper Schmeichel. Whilst a second would have been desirable, the Whites actually looked comfortable at 1-0 for the first time this season. Bristol started the second half with a little more purpose than they ended the first and saw their best chance of the game so far bounce off the side netting. Leeds responded immediately, with Robert Snodgrass working his way towards goal from a wide position, only to see his shot blocked. Max Gradel was alert to the loose ball however, and managed to get a shot away from an extremely acute angle which he drove underneath former England goalkeeper David James to double the Whites advantage. 0-2. Shortly after the second, a chance to kill the game off entirely fell to Bradley Johnson, but his headed effort from a Robert Snodgrass cross grazed the wrong side of Bristol City’s bar. Bristol responded and quite how the final 30 minutes didn’t produce a goal for home side is anyone’s guess? Some impressive goal-keeping from Kasper Schmeichel, a helping hand from the crossbar and some desperate clearances from Andy O’Brien and Alex Bruce were all that kept Leeds’ clean sheet intact. There was even a goal line clearance from Luciano Becchio, who had been extremely quiet all day as the lone centre-forward but had put in an excellent shift as Leeds’ third centre-back. Lady Luck simply wasn’t favouring Bristol and a couple of pinball games in Leeds’ area somehow failed to produce a goal. Even the return of prolific goalscorer Nicky Maynard couldn’t help Bristol get back into this one and the Whites managed to survive the late flurry with all three points and a clean sheet still intact. Ups and downs v Bristol City (A) Defence – I imagine Bristol fans feel a little unlucky not to have got anything from this fixture with the series of chances they had late on, but for 60 minutes the home side failed to test Kasper Schmeichel whose main duties were hoofing the ball up field when he got bored of Leeds United passing in triangles. There were moments of panic from a Leeds United perspective, but the defence somehow managed to get it clear time and time again. Not the most orthodox defending, but back-to-back clean sheets for only the second time this season, so credit where it’s due. Becchio - Doesn’t look anywhere near as good in a head bandage as Patrick Kisnorbo. I don’t think he ever had a shot, which is a pretty strange thing to say about your lone striker when you’ve just won 2-0. Did absolutely nothing up front aside from clatter Bristol City players into the floor trying to win the ball back. That said, he was excellent when we were on the back-foot – maybe he can play DM? Snoddy-Gradel – Deadly. In this form, no one can deal with either of them. The ease at which they pass full-backs must cause severe anxiety attacks to our opponents fans. Gradel did show his selfishness at one point when he shot from an angle at distance, making it far too easy for the keeper. What he should have done was square it to the oncoming Leeds player (Howson I think?) who would have made it 3-0, but with 10 goals and a boat load of assists this season, he has licence to be greedy. Schmeichel – ‘Make yourself big and fearlessly throw yourself in front of anyone who threatens your goal’ seems to have been the lessons his Dad taught him. Incredible display from the number 1. McCartney/Lichaq – Oh, the contrasts of these two. In the final 30 minutes, every Bristol City break went down McCartney’s wing and he did absolutely nothing to stop any of them. An absolute nightmare performance from him – easily the weakest link in our defence throughout the game. Lichaq meanwhile was impressive. Didn’t have to do quite as much defensively – which is no doubt helped by having Snoddy in support of you rather than Max – but when he was called upon, he was quick and reliable. We saw a couple of glimpses of his attacking credentials too, as he won the ball in Leeds’ final third, turned a couple of Bristol players, before accelerating to the other end of the pitch to create a great opportunity for the Whites. Great little player. Crunch time – The next five games for all the promotion chasing teams see some extremely tough encounters and a few head-to-head clashes where points are bound to be dropped. The next month or so may well decide our final position, so back-to-back wins and clean-sheets isn’t a bad way to head into them. TSS man of the match Tough one. Snoddy, Gradel or Schmeichel would be the contenders, all equally deserving of praise. I think I’d have to go for Snodgrass due to the class with which he finished the opening goal – he also works tirelessly down the right when Leeds are on the back-foot covering every blade of grass in pursuit of the ball. Dje Excellent result and write-up. I’m glad to see Snodgrass finally get his extra accolade for his defensive duties up and down the wing too. Gradel does try to do the same at times but his approach to tackling can be very much tap-tap at the opponents ankles rather than a full blown challenge or just good old physical pressure. It’d have been interesting to see if Sam or even McCormack could have helped McCartney out more for the last thirty minutes when we seemed to have settled for the 2-0 score and three points. All the same, most encouraging. Craig I’ve been impressed with McCartney all season TSS. You reckon it was a blip or has he been slowly getting worse before Saturday? TSS Not sure. Their right winger was impressive, but McCartney was just holding off too much and crosses were getting by him time and time again. Also been impressed with him thus far, so wouldn’t be too concerned about it. Craig The Delhenn Debrief doesn’t seem to agree TSS: “George McCartney was assured down the left and is improving with every week.” TSS Joy of football I suppose. Someone said the same on Twitter, but I pointed out that in the last 30 every attack that caused us problems came down the right so who do you blame? To his credit, he didn’t do anything wrong for the first 60, but when under the cosh, all the success Bristol had came down his wing. The Reaper 08 In all reality though TSS was it just that he suffered through lack of coverage from Gradel ? TSS It was definitely a factor, but he was holding off too much as well and the winger was easing past him. It’s not that Gradel doesn’t get back, he’s just not that great as a defensive player. The Reaper 08 Very solid result, as you pointed out TSS of particular note is the consecutive clean sheets. It’s a bit boring and old school but if you don’t concede you can’t lose the game. si Spot on with report – think Kilkenny is worth a mention, he was impressive yesterday and a real calming influence in the middle of the park – i am still not a BJ fan and never will be, he just doesnt cut it for me s this level… Irving08 No posting on this site is complete without someone having a dig at Bradley Johnson. Give it a rest; find someone else to pick on. TSS Didn’t think Bradley had too bad a game. Bit clumsy at times, but covered the ground and his physical presence helped in the boxes. I’m usually the first to criticise him, but he’s improved no end since dropping into a deeper role. When he had license to attack he was wasteful. Gryff On the clean sheets, is the new ‘professional’ Leeds preparing for the playoffs? I’ve never been impressed with Snodgrass’ ability to play on a dodgy surface or a narrow pitch. I think the surface vs. Northern Ireland affected his ability to shine, but yesterday he was simply world class against a world class keeper and less than talented defence! Upper league football’s going to do wonders for him. Liked the writeup, agree with si that Kilkenny was decent in the centre, but tbh I thought he lacked a lot coming back (as always). It’s fine, playing someone like that, but it adds to the workload of Howson & Johnson… Colin Not sure enough credit has been given to the Snodgrass goal – that was sublime. Dink to to the left, dink to the right, roll the ball over with the foot and smack it with the left. It made Bristol look like mugs. But Gradel also deserves some sort of special prize for putting the ball through the legs of England’s no.1 keeper at the World Cup, Mr. David James. David James. England. World Cup. Disaster. FFS. captaincrash Agree, the Snoddy goal was superb, had that been Messi it would have been all over the telly. Wonderful skill, balance, calmness and execution. David Went to the Bristol game yesterday with my 13 year old son, our first of the season having travelled up from Cornwall and could only get tickets in the Bristol stand. Having been to a few away fixtures in the past,at Plymouth,Yeovil and last season’s 4 -0 drubbing of Rovers, I am fully aware of the need to be circumspect about your true allegiance in the midst of opposing fans ! When the first Leeds goal went in, two Leeds fans about ten feet away foolishly celebrated and about 30 Bristol thugs pounced on them like a pack of dogs, kicking, punching and spitting at them, before the stewards and police eventually managed to get them away. Whilst this may be the norm at away matches,there were at least 12 youngsters that I counted in our immediate area, including my son and I was horrified at what they had to witness. Colin David, after it got sorted out, did the stewards/police take any action against the Bristol thugs? Paul South Wales I was also in Bristol end, with a complete Leeds lunatic next to me (his mates were all Bristol). He celebrated and cheered them on all game, but no one said anything to him strangely, but very edgy atmosphere. How we kept a clean sheet i’ll never know, but Snoddy’s goal was awesome, what a classy piece of skill. Lichaq looked good, but Becchio was quiet, going to Swansea in two weeks, Leeds end this time though. The next to Saturday clashes will demonstrate what chance we have of going up, interesting! Paul South Wales That should have read next two clashes David Not that I was aware of, but about six police in riot gear stayed for about 10 minutes and the same Britol thugs started venting their spleens at them! Gryff Colin: “David James. England. World Cup. Disaster. FFS.” Not sure what you can mean, here. Between John Terry surging upfield as a forward (despite being so slow he could never retreat in time) his dodgy positioning; the wannabe-winger Glen Johnson and his cluelessnes; and Upson struggling to plug the Titanic-sized gaps left by the two, I’m really not sure what on earth anybody could expect David James to do, short of break the laws of physics? Colin Gryff John Terry keeps his place because he’s he best that we’ve got. Not saying that’s good but that’s where we are right now. I can’t defend David James in any way shape or form though. Against Germany, Joe Hart would have saved 3 of those goals. I would have saved 2. He’s an absolute shocker, and he’s been found out again by Gradel putting it through his legs. Ron Good result and the next 2 weeks is what it’s all about. John Terry is a c*nt by the way.