Ross McCormack scored twice in a six goal thriller at Brighton’s new Amex Stadium to become the first Leeds United player in over fifty years to score in six consecutive league games.
Not wishing to tempt fate here, but only three players have scored in more consecutive league games than Ross McCormack now for The Whites. They are Tom Jennings who scored 16 goals in 7 games during the 1926/27 season, Charlie Keetley who scored 10 times in 7 games during the 1929/30 season and the current record holder, Billy Furness, who scored in eight consecutive games during the 1931/32 season.
Massive thanks to Joe Mewis for providing us with those stats.
While Ross McCormack will quite deservedly grab the headlines, it was unsung hero Andy Keogh who opened the scoring with his first for the club on 18 minutes following an impressive passage of play from The Whites. 0-1
It was all looking a little too easy for Leeds when Ross McCormack added the second just six minutes later with a fine strike into the bottom right hand corner. 0-2
It was a pretty dominant first half away from home, with the defence functioning well and giving us few moments of panic, whilst the attack proved to be just as capable of scoring goals as we have been for the last couple of seasons.
It looked as though Leeds had finally learnt how to deal with these quick, short-passing sides, similar to Doncaster Rovers and Norwich City, where we so often come undone and seem to be chasing shadows. Brighton were given very little time to find their rhythm, and Leeds looked capable of going on and adding more to the tally.
But football is a game of two halves as the old cliché goes, and true to form, the second half was absolutely nothing like the first.
Within two minutes of the restart, Mackall-Smith managed to find a gap between two of our defenders, who he left for dead with a quick turn before slotting Brighton’s first beyond Andy Lonergan. 1-2
Leeds looked to reawaken at that point, but an undeniable penalty on 60 minutes dealt another blow to the fragile confidence of our defence. Barnes duly converted and the momentum to go on and win the game was now with the home side. 2-2
It looked like Brighton would be celebrating a famous comeback when Mackall-Smith capitalised on more poor defending from Leeds to fire Brighton into the lead with just over five minutes left to play. 3-2
But for all their faults, Leeds are rarely accused of giving up before the final whistle and that mentality paid off once more as Jonny Howson cut a ball back from the touchline to gift Ross McCormack an equaliser in injury time. 3-3 FT
On and on and on and on…
To lead a game 2-0 and then find yourself celebrating a last minute equaliser is a strange feeling, but we were playing a side who had it not been for McCormack’s second goal would now be top of the Championship.
It’s frustrating that we didn’t collect all three points, and our tendency to switch-off in defence winds us all up, but if you’d have offered me a point as I made the long journey down to the Amex, I’d have snatched your hand off.
It’s a strange world of conflicting opinion is football; one man’s “excellently worked goal” is another man’s “shoddy defending” and that was highlighted quite brilliantly in the post-match interviews as both managers grumbled about the concentration levels of their team in defence.
Three more goals conceded naturally means fans are playing the blame game. Few of our fans will be praising Mackall-Smith for two excellently taken goals, but will instead be complaining about our defence and demanding we get rid of players we were praising only a few weeks ago.
Case in point, Tom Lees and Aidy White. The overwhelming opinion before the last couple of games was that our young full-backs were the best thing since sliced bread. We were willing to accept the odd mistake and would practice patience as they were “blooded” and prepared for lengthy careers at the club.
That patience was roughly 180 minutes long by my calculations, as I’m already seeing forum posts and tweets calling for them to be shipped off to the pub leagues.
Then there’s Darren O’Dea, who follows Andy O’Brien in going from a “steady, assured central defender” to a total liability – again, this took about 180 minutes of football.
Jonny Howson and Robert Snodgrass meanwhile have caught Mark Viduka Syndrome, which is a rare disorder in which certain fans are unable to see any positives in their performance, and instead concentrate solely on a couple of mistakes. They pick out the couple of mistakes that every player has, in every match, and use them to justify their opinion that said players have become “lazy and disinterested”.
Of course, some fans have realised the hypocrisy of blaming players they previously praised and decided instead to aim their gloom and doom at the head of Simon Grayson who is no longer the best manager since Howard Wilkinson, but has instead become the new Kevin Blackwell.
And all this, because we lost to the Premier League Champions and drew away to a high-flying Brighton side who will no doubt finish the season in the top six.
The truth is, things aren’t ideal at Elland Road. We missed a couple of quality signings that only good money would have brought, but we know this and have to work with what we have.
The defence is a lot more capable than fans give it credit for, we’ve seen brief examples of this throughout the first few games, but the overwhelming amount of pressure and scrutiny we’re putting them under isn’t helping matters. It’s difficult to perform and gel when you can feel the aura of expected failure all around you. The sighs and sarcastic cheers are only making matters worse I’m afraid.
Yes, the players and manager have work to do, but so too do the fans. We have to show a bit of faith in Simon Grayson and the players, grant them the patience we previously promised and hope they can pull off the unthinkable in what you have to admit, is extremely difficult circumstances.
Anyway, rant over. Hard to believe we’ve taken seven points from the last three league games, isn’t it? On and on…