Leeds United ended their pre-season campaign with a 3-2 victory over Premier League side Newcastle United at Elland Road. 

The Whites took an early lead after a Robert Snodgrass free-kick was spilled by Newcastle United goalkeeper Frazer Forster allowing Patrick Kisnorbo an easy tap-in.

Leeds kept up the pressure and dominated much of the first half but The Magpies got back on level terms when Steven Taylor was left unmarked to head home from a corner kick.

By half-time, Leeds United had undoubtedly been the better team. The Whites were creating plenty of chances going forward whilst the defensive partnership of Andy O’Brien and Patrick Kisnorbo was looking much stronger than anything we saw last season.

That partnership however was broken up for the second half with Leigh Bromby coming on for Andy O’Brien who is no doubt some way from match fitness following his recent injury.

Other substitutes followed throughout the second half as Simon Grayson started to break-up what is likely to be his opening day line-up.

And it was one of those substitutes that would restore Leeds United’s lead. Lloyd Sam somehow managed to win the ball on the by-line before slotting home from an incredibly tight angle to make it 2-1 and give Newcastle United fans more reason to worry about their defence.

The lead was short-lived however as a good move from Newcastle United finished with a powerful strike from Haris Vuckic who left Leeds’ new keeper Andy Lonergan with no chance.

But Leeds United weren’t done yet, and it was another second half substitute, Billy Paynter who would seal victory for the Whites and bring his Leeds United goal drought to an end. The relief was almost palpable as Billy celebrated a rare goal.

Conclusions

Overall, this was a very encouraging display from Leeds. The Geordies will be furious with the defending on display, but to put Leeds United’s victory down to Newcastle’s incompetence would be unfair on the players who, to a man, performed very well.

The squad looked sharp and eager throughout the game. Recent injury concerns Robert Snodgrass and Andy O’Brien both looked in good shape to start the new season whilst the returning Patrick Kisnorbo has transformed the defence completely.

Jonny Howson put in an excellent shift and clearly enjoys the attacking freedom he’s afforded with Michael Brown and Adam Clayton alongside him in central midfield.

Despite conceding two goals, I also think Andy Lonergan will improve our defensive fortunes. He showed he had the shot-stopping ability on a couple of occasions, but more importantly for me was that he just appeared calmer and more in control than Kasper Schmeichel ever was.

What was particularly encouraging was seeing the cover available to us. Lloyd Sam put in a tireless display when he came on and constantly looked a threat, whilst Ramon Nunez and Alex Mendy both look like capable squad players with the ability to change a game.

Up front remains a bit of a concern despite Billy Paynter’s late winner and a positive display from Ross McCormack. The big question mark for me personally, is whether McCormack can play the lone striker role – he displays excellent movement and does find the space you’d expect from a seasoned pro like Ross, but I’m convinced he’d be better with a target man alongside him.

   
Leeds United 3 2 Newcastle United
Patrick Kisnorbo (5) Taylor (35)
Lloyd Sam (67) Vuckic (76)
Billy Paynter (85)
Elland Road (Att. 20,457)
Pre-season friendly, July 31st 2011

  • no alan smith today …..dare we read anything into that ? did you hear any whispers regarding his absense TSS? Sqaud looks stronger than it sounds on paper now aswell i think ..apart from upfront , we need a big 6 foot 5 incher to knock the balls down for oncoming midfielders……

    • TSS

      There was a lad in the Kop who claims he knows him – he reckons he just couldn't stomach the inevitable abuse so they went with the "minor injury" story but who knows? Can only speculate really.

    • Heather

      According to Yorkshire Radio's commentary, Alan Smith was not available today due to a groin strain. Yeh, right!! Does anyone actually believe that?

  • Dje

    Does this mean that we are looking to play Howson as a forward centre or an out-of-position midfielder?

    I'm impressed that Smith didn't get a mention.

    • TSS

      Was sick of hearing about him after the first ten minutes.

      Also omitted the argument Joey 'horrible' Barton had with our fans. "You're supposed to be in jail"

      • Dje

        Lol. Fair enough.

        Mystery will fan it both ways I guess – one, he was rested as he might join us imminently so why complicate a loan move with all the booing? Or two, can't stomach the fans dishing out etc and is once more consigned to crimes against humanity (well, Leeds' fans).

        Lovers, loathers and those indifferent, please cast your vote now.

  • kingbilly

    why would they play alan smith, he is not part of the plan, no brainer

    • Dje

      Neither are Guttierez and Barton.

      Besides, Smith is transfer listed; the national media were waiting to see what would happen with him at Elland Road once more ~ so a great chance to showcase him for potential buyers.

  • Jmo

    Yep, I was pleased with that today. I feared the worst though when Bromby came on with Lees too. Bromby is too soft unlike Paddy who gives opposition strikers what for..Lees would do better learning from Paddy. I though Howson was outstanding. Paynter getting a goal was a pleasant surprise too.. (Couldn’t miss though). Mendy looks like one we could do with signing up. He is strong, tall, quick, and he doesn’t appear to over complicate things. He played a lovely pass to Paynter but he Billy just got tackled in time. The only negative thing I would say is that we do need 3/4 players as reinforcements. We def need a LB and a TALL striker. When we did hoof the ball up to McCormack he found it difficult. Overall performance 8/10

  • Tyler75

    First half team looks like SG's first choice 11 – Keith Andrews alongside Brown would strengthen it even more if the rumours are right and Lichaj coming back would make us stronger still. Good to see Billy get his goal, let's hope that this is the start of an improvement in confidence and form for him – because like it or not he's an important part of the squad with Becchio and Somma out. How was Parker ?

    • TSS

      I thought he did OK considering the problems he's had. Still a yard off the pace at times, understandably, but just needs games to get him back to the Ben Parker who looked a hot prospect only a couple of seasons back.

      • Bubionwhite

        Out of position for the first equaliser …

      • I really hope that Billy gets his confidence back because on his day he is a good striker, i still feel that the squad is a little weak and we need some more quality . This is a massive season for us and a worry of mine is that a number of clubs have strengthened quite significantly , where has we have stood still. MOT

    • Jmo

      We don’t need Andrews… Clayton was fine.. This will free up Howson to do what be wants and hopefully not to go missing in games like he does from time to time… Today though be ran the show!

  • Henryv

    Lets not get carried away with a reasonable performance against a poor Newcastle team.
    Pre-season means little.
    This season will see us struggling for goals, with an improved defence.
    I read an article by Peter Lorimer in which he said we the supporters, and the Board (Ken)
    will expect promotion this season.
    How can anyone expect promotion with the squad and total lack of investment.
    Ignoring the people who ring Eddie ('elloEeddie) on Yorkshire Radio, and must have been planted by Ken as they always get through each week. Does anyone think we have a chance?
    I doubt he will keep the trialists – only 2 left!
    Mendy, maybe?

  • Matthew

    I thought I was dreaming when Paynter scored lmao..

    Anyway good job today from the lads, lets repeat this on Saturday and make the Saints have a terrible first season championship game :P

  • Ray

    Why are people still talking about Alan smith. Overall it was a good result from Leeds and hopefully we’ve all just gotten carried away with the lack of transfers and were going to have a good season. Would still like to see two or three quality signings tho to spice things up a bit.

  • mojoluafc

    Decent game, still slow at the back when the balls on the floor but the geordies wernt really a test for me, thought they were pretty poor and could struggle if they keep playing like that. Nice to win the last pre season game ready for the Saints.

  • Matthew

    I think we clearly sent a message to the Saints in this game, we're coming to Saint Marys on Saturday and we're leaving with 3 points and there is nothing you can do about it. Simple as.

  • Jez

    Friendlies mean nothing when we lose, are important when we win, a good run-out when we draw.

    Barn Door scored a bit in last season's pre-season run-outs. He is just not up to it in our system and really should go somewhere else so he can get his form back.

    In all, nice to win but it means nowt.

    • TSS

      I do love how Leeds fans insist on being gloomy regardless of results.

      Pre-season friendlies do mean very little in terms of scoreline, that's why it's the performance you look at. Our players looked sharp and very eager. They battled well in defence and had an attacking spark Newcastle struggled to cope with.

      There are plenty of reasons to be encouraged by this performance – try allowing yourself a moment of peace in the otherwise tormented world of perpetual gloom you and so many Leeds United fans inhabit.

      Overall, the team looks a lot more balanced than last season, stronger in defence and is still a constant threat going forward.

  • sim

    spot on TSS – just as Meat Loaf sang it, You took the words…..

  • mattbb

    thought parker was well off the pace today, and although Boldizan Bodor sounds like a bond villain that he offered a tad more solidity. Kisnorbo top drawer, and O'Brien too. Lees for me, like parker also seemed off the pace. Lonergan a much more commanding presence in goals.

    Revelation for me today was Clayton who i thought was excellent alongisde Howson, perhaps thats down to Brown's presence?

    Other than that glad the game wasnt just about Smith, and perhaps Clayton and HOwson put to bed the argument for signing him?

    • TSS

      I think you may be right – that Clayton is benefiting from Brown's influence. Those two could form a pretty solid partnership this season.

      Not too concerned about the defence any more with those too offering support from midfield to a strong central pair and a much more well-rounded goalkeeper.

      Seems we've discovered that little bit of "bite" we've been missing for the last couple of seasons. We should be a lot better in the physical games where you just have to dig in and rough it out. With Neil "luxury player" Kilkenny and the absent defending last season, we were always vulnerable.

      • mattbb

        couldnt get over the irony of the `pie-rich' north easterners calling McCormack 2fat as f*ck" for most of the game.. glass hooses.

  • kev

    good game, could do alot for the confidence when we go down to southampton nxt week,still think we're 3 players short,howson's turning into a real quality player, well done lads !!

  • Dje

    Grayson says a decision is to be made on Mendy and Bodor in the next 24-36 hours. I wondered what people reckoned. Yay or nay?

    I've not seen Bodor play but the reports have been a bit average so I think we could do a tad better in the transfer market (if spent a few pennies?!), as Bodor seems to be an infill gap for a position we have got wrong too many times already.

    Mendy I've seen twice now and he looked as good as any player we fielded. I'm not sure what his wages would be, and I'm sure we would set ourselves up for a kicking yet again in the future by only offering him a 12 month or two year deal, but I'd take the risk and add him to a our good depth of Sam, Snodgrass, Gradel, Nunez as any one of those might still leave. Besides, he strikes me as more effective than getting Watt back for a third attempt.

    • TSS

      Mendy I'd sign, can't see the point in offering Bodar a deal – very average player.

      • Bubionwhite

        Sign both! Mendy looks useful and will improve over time as he gets to know his team-mates better and Bodor appears to have more "defensive bite" than our remaining options and looks capable of a good cross or two.

  • EYLEEDS

    It’s funny that I thought Clayton looked out of his depth and really only comes to life when attacking. Is he really a defensive midfielder I wonder? Brown and Howson were outstanding and if you add one more quality midfielder into the equation we will be a million times better in the middle of the park then when we had BJ and NK.

    Kisnorbo is going to become a legend if he keeps sticking his head into challenges like today. He must like bandages!

    Hate to say it, but Parker was really poor today and I think we might have to accept he is not going to make the grade which will be a shame after the start of his career. He looked slow and was out of position on several occasions.

    Everyone else did well but The Toon looked poor for a Premier League team. Give their fans credit though for respecting the tribute to Lord Harewood and bringing such a large following. Think we should swap leagues based on today’s performance!

  • Captaincrash

    Thought Howson was immense.

    Lonergan more than okay once he settled down, first 2/3 goal kicks wayward. McCormack quality, Brown just has that 'know how' we need and Paddy, well he is just Paddy and he's back.

    One swallow and all that but all in all enjoyable and gives a little more room for optimism.

    • Matthew

      Well said.

      Re: Lonergan

      Nice to see people are starting to understand Lonergans qualitys as a goalkeeper, he is clearly a much superior keeper to what we had last season.

      We're going up up up the table this Season.
      (Emphasis on up, and hopefully we'l stay up)

  • Bowden

    Outstanding performance today; my confidence has gone up 50 % in a cupla' hours.

    Re. the whole Smith thing.. When he's published as saying, regarding playing at Elland Road again, "It's not something i've ever wanted to do to be honest", his manager isn't going to pick him is he. Would you pick a player you know doesn't want to be there? No.. Simples!

    Thtat' not the Smith I fell in love with as a Leeds fan; that Smith would run any gauntlet! Remember the Smith who totalled Schmeichel, Stam, Seaman and Adams in two tackles!?! That was the stuff of legend, unfortunately that time has now long since passed.

    Here's to a great season without pseudo-romantic bollocks, and true grit like back in 90!

    E I E I E I O
    Up the Football League we go
    When we win promotion
    This is what we'll sing
    We're Champions!
    We're Champions!
    Sgt.Grayson's King!

  • I really worry about the injuries of our bests strikers, Becchio and Somma. We need a player, at least on loan. We also haven´t found a good LB, and some positions does not have good replacements…

    Sorry for my bad english. I´m a big Leeds fan from Argentina

    • TSS

      I wouldn't worry too much mate, your English is better than most of those born and bred here. ;)

    • Jeepster

      Que tal, Martin! But I gotta ask — an Argentine Leeds fan? How come?