Yorkshire derbies seldom go to plan for The Whites and Bradford City came to Elland Road determined to continue that tradition.

There were starts for Ramon Nunez, Lloyd Sam and Ben Parker as several first team regulars were away on international duty, but it was those that remained which would give Leeds United fans the most cause for concern as the evening’s events unfolded.

The biggest problem area remains the defence which was all over the place when Bradford City took the lead through a Jack Compton goal just after the half hour mark. Through a crowded defence, Compton managed to pull away and find space for a shot that left Andy Lonergan with no chance.

The general reaction within the ground was that Ben Parker was at fault as he allowed Compton to pull away without giving chase. And it’s true that Parker should definitely share the blame, but the defence were so badly organised that our two centre-backs are nowhere near the centre of defence when the shot was fired almost dead centre. The lack of organisation meant both Patrick Kisnorbo and Andy O’Brien had been left clumsily scratching their heads at the left-hand side of goal, whilst Ben Parker – who in my opinion should be covering the far post in this situation – was caught in two minds as the only defender remaining. There’s no escaping the fact he should have chased, but had he done so, it would have been just as easy for Compton to lay the ball off to whoever was coming in at the back post and then we’d have complained he was out-of-position. The fact is, the entire defence was at fault.

After a disappointing first half, Leeds United came out on fire and Ramon Nunez equalised within 30 seconds. Lloyd Sam did incredibly well to somehow work his way through a crowd of Bradford City players to tee Nunez up for the equaliser and his first goal as a Leeds United player. What Lloyd Sam lacks in the skill and trickery department, he more than makes up for with an unrelenting determination.

Lapse defending was to blame once again however as Michael Flynn restored Bradford City’s lead on 57 minutes. Andy O’Brien will once again come in for criticism here, and it seems Simon Grayson agreed as he decided to replace O’Brien with Leigh Bromby just five minutes later. Tom Lees was also brought on to replace Paul Connolly. Two changes in defence when trailing by a goal tells you all you need to know about The Whites’ performance up to this point.

On a more positive note, Ramon Nunez always looked a threat, Lloyd Sam worked tirelessly throughout and Ross McCormack was constantly on the move trying to create space and chances for himself. And it was McCormack who leveled for The Whites on 69 minutes, latching on to an incredible cross from Tom Lees to head home his first goal of the season and restore parity at Elland Road.

Leeds were starting to look more and more threatening going forward with Ross McCormack and Ramon Nunez showing the potential to forge a strong partnership up front. On several occasions, McCormack showed his ability to create space for a shot and was unlucky not to get a second with a couple of well-struck long range efforts. Nunez meanwhile was at times let down by a bit of rustiness in his control, but was always giving Bradford something to think about. Neither can really be classed as an orthodox striker, McCormack for example was still working his way back from defence at one point whilst half The Whites squad were up the other end of the field attacking and he does have a tendency to drift back into central midfield, but between the two of them, we may just be on to something.

Leeds eventually sealed victory when a Lloyd Sam cross was spilled by the Bradford City keeper gifting Ramon Nunez his second Leeds United goal with just 15 minutes remaining. From there on out, Leeds United dominated and retained possession well. City did manage a couple more half chances, most notable of which was a hit-and-hope attempt from the wing that Andy Lonergan had to peddle back and save at full-stretch, but we came through in the end to progress to the second round.


Credit to Bradford City, they came fired up for the battle and gave a very good account of themselves making this a thrilling Yorkshire derby match. What I particularly like about City is that they aren’t a side who spends half the match complaining to the referee when a decision goes against them or he misses something. Case in point, Leigh Bromby shoved their forward to the ground in an off-the-ball situation, but instead of rolling around like most Premier League (and Championship for that matter) players would have done, he got up and went over to the referee playing down the incident with Bromby, shook hands and left it at that. They’re not a team who ruins the game with constant whinging and moaning, they simply get stuck in and get on with it. I admire that it any team.

As for Leeds, the defence is a still a total shambles. The only positives I can take from this is that Ben Parker got 90 minutes under his belt – he needs games to get back to his old self unfortunately – and that Simon Grayson identified Andy O’Brien as a weakness and gave Leigh Bromby and Tom Lees a chance to impress. Both Lees and Bromby looked an improvement to me and should be considered ahead of O’Brien who is clearly lacking fitness this weekend.

Micheal Brown looked a lot better than he did against Southampton and seemed to time his tackling a lot better too. Adam Clayton is an absolute warrior who I’m quickly falling in love with (he hasn’t got a bad shot on him either) and Lloyd Sam was an example every player should follow – absolutely tireless.

Other positives were Ramon Nunez and Ross McCormack, but I think I rattled on about them enough above?

Overall, we’re still not the finished article but in the second half we performed much better than we did last week against The Saints. Conceding two goals against a League Two side is a concern and one which needs to be addressed quickly, but at least we have some positives to take from this game unlike last week. On and on…

Leeds United 3 2 Bradford City
Ramon Nunez Jack Compton
Ross McCormack Michael Flynn
Ramon Nunez
Elland Road (Att. TBC)
League Cup 2011-12, August 9th 2011