Late own goal gifts Leeds a draw Tim Hodge April 17, 2011 Match reviews 29 Comments Leeds were gifted a late equaliser to salvage a point against Watford in a match they should really have won. Simon Grayson set his Leeds side out in what looked like a 4-4-2 with Davide Somma and Max Gradel up front. Luciano Becchio dropped to the bench alongside loanees Barry Bannan and Jake Livermore. It was a frustrating first half, replicating much of what we’ve seen this season – the Whites reluctant to pass it around and instead hitting long balls up front to Max Gradel who was being marked by Watford’s Martin Taylor – an absolute giant of a man. My little brother turned to me after the game and said “it’s like we only want 45 minutes to try to win the game.” If a nine year old can see what we’re doing wrong, I’d hope Grayson and the players realise long balls to our smallest player probably isn’t the way forward. Gradel was putting himself about and making a nuisance of himself while Davide Somma was adding to the frustration of the fans inside Elland Road with a surprising lack of movement. Aside from Neil Kilkenny shooting wide after a bit of head tennis, there were no real clear cut chances until right before half time when Snodgrass popped up on the left and flashed the ball across the area to be met by Max Gradel who, stretching, managed to divert the ball onto the bar when he should have scored. The second half started in a similar way and United had the first real scare as the visitors’ Don Cowie hit the woodwork but saw the ball fall safely into Kasper Schmeichel’s hands. The introduction of Luciano Becchio for Neil Kilkenny acted to lift the 30000 Elland Road crowd. Becchio made an immediate impact linking up play and winning free-kicks and suddenly Leeds looked much more dangerous. It wasn’t until Simon Grayson made another change though that we really kicked into gear. Barry Bannan came on for Davide Somma and it was the Aston Villa loanee’s excellent delivery from a free-kick that set up Leeds’ first goal. Bannan placed the ball right onto Becchio’s head three yards out and the Argentine duly obliged. Elland Road exploded in euphoric relief. The crowd were doing their part to keep the energy up but there’s always danger that Leeds will switch off and make silly mistakes and, predictably – after Becchio had blazed a sitter over the bar – it happened just a few minutes later. Watford were passing the ball around the area and Leeds were standing off and failing to get a foot in. Eventually Cowie sent in a deep cross and it was met by the diminutive Lee Hodson who had been allowed to wander freely into the area and nod home unchallenged. It was a nervy finish for all those inside Elland Road and there was a feeling the game could tip either way. Again, excellent delivery from Bannan led to another chance as Gradel was denied on the line and the ensuing scramble was eventually cleared. A few minutes before full time though it looked like we’d thrown it away as Andy O’Brien went to ground in the box but lost the ball to Danny Graham who squared for substitute Andreas Weimann who could hardly miss. It was a sickening blow and looked likely be a fatal in our play-off hopes. Strangely though, luck seemed to be on our side briefly as another Barry Bannan delivery, this time from a corner, was inexplicably sliced into the net by Watford striker Troy Deeney. With two minutes left, spurred on by a noisy crowd, both sides seemed to want to go for the win and not settle for a point. The game ended abruptly and strangely as Leeds won a corner, the atmosphere again beginning to bubble with a sense of urgency and anticipation, only for the referee to blow for full-time before we could take it. Generally you should be thankful for an 88th minute equaliser but it definitely felt like we’d thrown away two points. It certainly puts added pressure on our remaining fixtures. There weren’t many outstanding shouts for a man-of-the-match. Eric Lichaj and Leigh Bromby were the most assured of our defenders while Max Gradel was typically energetic and enthusiastic. Becchio looked hungry when he came on and grabbed his goal but had to be taken off injured after being on for less than half an hour. Bradley Johnson did his job well for the most part and can’t really be criticised for his performance but, for me, it would have to go to Barry Bannan – simply because he changed the game and we may not have scored if it hadn’t been for his outstanding delivery. More dropped points means it’s looking a lot harder for us to retain our play-off place. It’s going to be a nervy few weeks.