Rodolph Austin produced a scintillating league debut performance as Leeds got into the new season groove with a 1-0 win over Wolves at Elland Road. After a summer of rumour, remonstration and rebuilding, this was the perfect way to start the league campaign. Leeds were excellent, in every department, from start to finish.

Neil Warnock named an unchanged side from the team that brushed aside Shrewsbury in last week’s League Cup first round tie, handing 8 players their Leeds League debut. There was, however, one surprise in the team news as the captain’s armband was handed to Lee Peltier. With speculation circulating that the honour would be bestowed upon David Norris, Tom Lees or new-contract man Ross McCormack, it was a move nobody was expecting. Warnock is a shrewd and experienced man who has clearly seen something in Peltier that many of us had overlooked, but we can most certainly trust his judgement.

The Wolves line-up looked intimidating, as you would expect of a team who were playing Premier League football as recently as May. Ireland striker Kevin Doyle, England winger Matt Jarvis and Championship goal-machine Sylvan Ebanks-Blake were the standout names on the team sheet. To their credit, Wolves looked good. This was a match between two of the division’s better teams and the fact that Leeds were the better side on the day is an indication of just how far Warnock has brought a team who lost 7-3 to Nottingham Forest just a few months ago.

The match began at a quick tempo, with Leeds creating most of the openings. Half-chances came and went, following some very encouraging build-up play amongst Leeds’ attacking quartet. The attacks were not hoof-ball, but flowing moves full of McCormack creativity, Becchio strength, Varney panache and Green diligence. Luke Varney’s ability to play a striker role allowed for him and McCormack to switch positions at will – a tactic clearly encouraged by the manager.

Despite being second best during the opening quarter of an hour, Wolves did look dangerous when they came forwards, passing the ball with speed and precision. However, a Warnock side is never easy to break down and so it proved. Captain Peltier and defensive partner Jason Pearce put in outstanding performances, keeping the impressive looking Wolves strike-force at bay time and time again. If ever Pearce or Peltier were unable to mop up, Rodolph Austin would appear as if from nowhere to throw his body on the line or acrobatically scissor-kick the ball out of the Leeds penalty area. Austin was sensational, ending countless attacks from the away team with brawny sliding tackles and faultless positioning.

The only goal of the game arrived after 17 minutes. Goalkeeper Paddy Kenny displayed his distribution abilities with a sublime long range pass to McCormack on the left wing. From there McCormack produced a pinpoint cross (on his weaker left foot, no less) for Luciano Becchio to head into the net.

Leeds retained control of the match for much of the first half, restricting Wolves to infrequent forays. When the visitors did venture forwards, they invariably engineered the ball towards Matt Jarvis (a player who may yet sign for a Premier League club before the end of August). For all of his trickery and undoubted skill, Jarvis could not get the better of Sam Byram, an 18-year old right back making his professional league debut. For his tenacity against the quality of Jarvis, Byram deserves immense credit. The manager had taken a gamble in playing the teenager and deciding to leave Tom Lees on the substitutes’ bench – a gamble which Byram proved to be a winner.

The only sour note of the most exciting opening half of a season for many years was an injury to Paul Green. The Irishman seemed to pick up a knee injury and could not continue. He was replaced by the marmite-emotion-inducing El Hadji Diouf, who was welcomed onto the pitch with the same mixture of pantomime lunacy that greeted his previous appearance.

Leeds began the second period still on the front foot. Luke Varney in particular was presented with a good opportunity to double the lead, but mis-controlled when through on goal. With Diouf on the field, Leeds now had three winger-slash-strikers available, with McCormack and Varney now completing a triumvirate of position-shifters to tax the opposing defenders.

Having had the upper hand for an hour, it was perhaps only likely that Wolves would eventually stamp their own authority upon the game. The final half an hour saw the away side apply a lot of pressure to Paddy Kenny’s goal, but the Leeds defensive machine is palpably stronger than the wilting flower of last season. When the ball was cleared up field, Diouf in particular was demonstrating superb hold-up play, endearing himself more and more to the Elland Road faithful as he continually took pressure away from the home goal.

Tom Lees entered the action, coming on for Ross McCormack and adding extra defensive qualities to the rearguard for the final fifteen minutes. Leeds held on, with relative comfort, and greeted the final whistle with scenes of jubilation, determination and solidarity.

Overall, a great win to start the season and a first mouth-watering sight of Austin’s powers.

  • Steob

    Can’t believe pearse got man of the match over Austin not saying pearse had a bad game it’s just that Austin had a brilliant game he was all over the pitch I’d say elland road was buzzing would off loved to be there and how well did byrum do great performance against an English international

    • RC

      Disagree i thought they both played equally well but the defence had more work to do arguably as a lot of the time the ball was bypassing the midfield. Dont get me wrong Austin was awesome but i think people were always really excited about him so was watching out for him and Pearce seems to have been ignored by a lot of fans for just how dominant he was and it was him that put by far the biggest tackle in lol.

  • Tyler75

    Very solid performance and relatively comfortable performance – we are going to be much more difficult to beat this season. Rudi Austin is a player we have been waiting for – to say the boy likes a tackle is to say his great mate Usain Bolt is a bit quick. Pearce was excellent and Paddy Kenny exudes calm. We won’t come up against many better front 3’s in the Championship than Jarvis,Doyle and Ebanks-Blake and they had one shot on target ! Not sure about Varney – he works hard is good in the air, links up well with Ross and has got pace but can’t control a football. Diouf on the other hand, was immaculate with the ball at his feet – Wolves couldn’t get it off him. White was the biggest disappointment, I don’t think he’s defensively good enough at left-back and should be played further forward. Other than that a very pleasing (and relatively stress free) opening day win. MOT

    • Allan

      I couldn’t agree more! I also think White should be moved further forward and bring in Drury at fullback. Varney could drop to the bench. If Green is unfit for the Blackpool game then start with Diouf, as you say….he is immaculate with the ball at his feet and gives other attacking options. I look forward to an exciting and productive season especially if we can get the two or three icing on the cake players Mr. Warnock wants.

  • marcco62

    A I going mad or did I comment on article on here last night about picture taken at Elland Road of Arab chap with Bates? coz it seems to have disappeared.

    • marcco62

      “Am I” sorry

      • TimPM

        Yeah, it didn’t really help anybody having a guessing game about it. The chap was explicitly not the one sitting with Bates but peope ignored it, the similarity was to a chairman of a club but people started saying I was stupid because he can’t own two clubs at once.

        Not worth the hassle if people can’t read and can’t think logically tbh! That said it’s all out there on forums if people were that bothered.

        • Tyler75

          According to the UAE Sports Paper 360, the man with Ken was Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, a member of Qatar’s ruling family and the Secretary General of Qatar Olympic Committee. Keep The Faith !

          • djedjedje

            I’d have more faith if the Olympics were not currently taking place in this country!

          • RC

            he means olympic comittee for 2012 at Qatar…

          • RC

            2020*

          • LufcDrst

            I went to school with Nassa Al Thani Saoud’s… Did ask him to ask if his dad could buy us but got laughed at… Maybe planted the seed?

        • RC

          I agree it is high unlikely that someone would own 2 clubs at once yet not impossible. I believe the Watford owners own 1 or possibly 2 other clubs dont they?

  • djedjedje

    Good report – I’d only add that I thought we sat too deep for the last half hour and we resorted to hoofing it past midfield, as much as Wolves pushed us back. I thought Varney only had an average day too, with him wasting our best chances. The highlight, as you say though, was the defence. I can’t remember the last time we looked so confident that whatever the opposition threw at us we’d mop up with ease – perhaps back to of the mid-O’Leary era?

    • TimPM

      Looked to be trying to hard to me? If we keep getting results I suppose he’ll loosen up a bit?

  • Dr Zen

    Exciting start! So glad that Rudi has begun to prove doubters (including me) wrong. MOT!

  • H

    Great win, but 4 bookings is a worry with a squad as small as ours!

  • AussieLeeds

    Was lucky to be able to watch this game in Australia but I was really impressed with how we defended. We looked strong, stable and confident and I’m more comfortable with Paddy in goal then Lonners for some reason. Austin was dynamic and made sure everyone knew he’d arrived and despite a nervy start Byram did really well. Up front I have no fears we will lack goals because Becchio and McCormack have the best understanding and the best bit was that the lack of “structure” proved to be a strong point as it confused the defence and showed how versatile we can be. If we play like that for the next 45 games then I have no qualms that we will be going up

  • wyla

    More than matched Wolves in every department, should perhaps of scored more. Warnock’s signings not looking so bad now eh?

    • TimPM

      If Green is injured, where does that leave us for wingers? Does this mean we have to push Aidy White into the midfield and lose the cover for left-back?

      It’s too small a squad. It was a great result, but what the hell are we supposed to do when we get the usual 2-3 simultaneous injuries? We’ve got Paddy K barely back from injury, Bromby out for the season, Somma just about back from a season-long injury, Becchio’s season was ruined by an injury.

      We don’t have the cover for when that happens this time.

      • Irving08

        Where we were. We haven’t got any ! But then neither did Italy in the Euros ! The bench is obviously weaker, but it will get stronger: Ramon is raring to go !
        Great start.

        • TimPM

          Did Italy played 46 games plus cup matches in the Euros?

          • Oxford White

            Glass half empty Tim. After seasons of dire defending etc lets at least enjoy this performance.

          • TimPM

            Let’s not get carried away. We’ve a good first eleven clearly, and that’s good. But let’s not start thinking we’re going to walk the league because then we’ll all be miserable as anything come November.

            Some reality early on should cushion that – and that is that we’re not competing in a month-long cup competition :-)

          • Oxford White

            Walk te league? I only suggested you enjoy the performance!

      • RC

        Could push Byram up and bring Lees in at CB pushing Pelts out to his natural position, or put white on the wing like you said as he was the weak link at left back. Or you could play Diouf there? But yes if we get a couple more injuries i would be worried.

  • oldschoolbaby

    Yeterday was an opportunity to build confidence, bond the team further, keep a clean sheet, gather 3 points and reinvigorate the faithful. Every box ticked and I`m more than happy wih that.
    Going to reserve judgement on the new boys but I have to say I started the match yesterday contemplating Austin`s attributes and finished the match wondering what it is he hasn`t got. I really cannot believe he`s been languishing in Norway for so long. Captain`s armband ???
    Oh and I know schadenfreude isn`t the most attractive of emotions but Norwich conceding 5 with Johnson, Howson and Snodgrass in the starting XI left me with a smirk right across my face.

  • I was impressed with how Leeds played yesterday. Nothing too fancy, quite direct and rumpy pumpy up your bum and Wolves didn’t like it up ‘em. I though Wolves were a bit shell-shocked in the first half, with the atmosphere and the venom of some of the tackles going in. Austin looked good. I thought Byram was excellent, not sure he can last a full season, he may be rotated, but a great prospect. I understand now why Warnock was so keen to get Paddy Kenny – his distribution was excellent. Ross & Becchio look very sharp.
    Diouf is unfit – he was blowing out of his arse after 10 minutes. I still don’t like the rat, but that said, you could see some real signs of quality. At this level, when you’re up against it, like we were at times in 2nd half, some players go missing – they don’t want to take responsibility. Diouf just asked for the ball and just kept it, no rush, nice and calm, worked the ball into the corners, slowed down the game and encouraged Wolves to commit a foul which bought Leeds a bit of respite. Very intelligent football. But his pace wasn’t there. Watching Diouf was like watching a fat kid holding a cake trying to escape a swarm of wasps. But to be fair to Diouf, he kept hold of the cake. Excellent cake holding skills.

    • RC

      This made me giggle and you’re very right about Diouf he was quality but like you said lacked pace and fitness it seemed i was shocked by how slow he was. But on the plus side i was also shocked how strong he was it was nigh on impossible for Wolves (which themselves are a big physical team) to knock him off the ball without comitting a foul.

  • For anyone who wants to see games, especially those outside UK who can’t get to a pub, google footballstreaminginfo and then click on the live streams link and you’ll see a lot of streams for all televised games (of all the major games). No need to install anything, just find the game you want and click on the browser option (you have to download software for the sopcast option so i don’t bother with those).
    Some of the streams can be a bit stuttery, but usually you can find a steady stream.

  • Chareose

    With reference to the article you posted yesterday about Keb Bates guests at Elland Road…..could it not be conceivable that hes just playing mind games. I mean all he needs to do is invite any arabic millionaire friend he can find and bang every leeds fan is on twitter getting over excited….. Are we going to go another season or maybe a few years of speculation with no takeover ? and before you know it weve all got so wound up over takeover speculation that weve forgotten who still owns Leeds United and its the same person who WILL ALWAYS hold his club back if he remains here……… dont let him fool you. By all means go to the ground and support the team when they play but bear in mind that all this take over gossip is probably being exploited by Bates to deflect attention….. Bates: ” the protests and boycotts are scaring the investors away….” yeah right……

    • djedjedje

      Some of the guests yesterday are said to have been big wigs in the Football League. It could be a coincidence, true, or maybe part and parcel of the ‘fit and proper test’ of new owners – which let’s face it, is unlikely to be more grueling than a bot of a chat over a G&T.

      • TSS

        Greg Clarke (the FL chairman) is pictured here –
        http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=218335058296013&set=a.218335014962684.47706.208719579257561&type=3

        Strange that Harvey doesn’t appear in any of the pics. He’s on the FL board, I’d have expected to see him alongside Clarke.

        • TimPM

          Richard Bowker (also on FL board) is pictured next to him. Then we’ve got our heavily body-guarded couple with the Bates’.

          Then there’s the guy we had a grainy shot of on the original article and apparently the ex-CEO of Man City was there according to some?

        • Harvey was there but not in the photo because when it was taken, he was inside making the tea and coffees.

          • One lump or two Ken?

          • djedjedje

            Yeah, as a tipsy Suzannah can be heard croaking in the background, “Hey! ‘R Ken’s sweet enough already!”

          • TSS

            **Shudders**

          • RC

            This article has the best banter i have come across on TSS haha, your comment then and the other guy with the ‘he only owns one tie’ comment haha.

      • djedjedje

        The picture on the right is Al-Thani outside of Elland Road yesterday, the middle is him doing some official thing for their Olympics bid, and the left is him again during the Olympics. Conveniently he seems to only own one tie.

        • djedjedje

          Sorry correction. Uploaded the wrong picture. The guy outside Elland Road is the one below on the right. The one on the left is, I think the same guy (same shades etc), sat next to Bates. Both have the same head shape and receeding hairline as Al-Thani.

        • ‘He only seems to own one tie’
          Brilliant. Made me chuckle. What a cheapskate: )

      • I think it’s coincidence that the FL guys were there. This was the biggest game of the FL weekend. They could have gone to Exeter to see their game against Morecambe but probably decided against it as it would have been a shit day out.

    • djedjedje

      Also, I didn’t really follow the ‘Guess Who’ discussions on TSS yesterday, but most seem to think it was connected to Saudi’s and Man City. Today it is said to have been Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani of the Qatar Royal Family. He’s heavily connected with the Qatar Olympic association and their punt to hold the Olympics in 2020.

      So could we be the next Qatar state-backed football team after Paris St.Germain? That could be a real possibility as the Leeds United name would offer them a great platform for the sleeping giant just as Paris St. Germain and Man City were? Or was it just a rich foreign Olympic committee passing through the UK with a weekend off between the Olympics and the Paralympics and fancied a bit of football watching in Leeds?

    • RC

      You’re being very speculative and cynical here, i personally dont believe your story it would mean that Ken Bates has a friend to start with.. secondly an Arabic friend the chances of him having a friend and them being arabic is highly unlikely lol.

  • Roger

    AS USUAL a massive over reaction to what was a great result. we scored a good goal from a good bit of play but we were hanging on at the end and struggling to cope in periods of the game. warnocks signings did well kenny, pearce, peltier and austin. green, norris, varney werent quite so impressive to be diplomatic. diouf showed glimpses of what he could do both good and bad. so a good battling display and good attitude from the team something we have missed for a good few years, but still we lack that little bit of extra class. we need more on the wing and up front and something different in midfield, id personally like another centre back. wolves only showed flashes of what they are capable of, at times nobody could get near doyle. but maybe thats wolves problem as to why they got relegated. good 3 points and i more confident in what warnocks trying to do but we will need more in the locker to keep it going so lets be realistic.

    • I’m as sceptical as the next man, but credit where its due, they impressed me. Honestly, before the match, I thought we were going to get battered. Didn’t expect 1 point, let alone 3.
      Still a long way to go and as you say Roger, we still need some more quality players.

  • Melvyn Burton

    I thought Varney was shouldered off the ball rather than mis-controlled it or was that a different incident?

    • djedjedje

      If that was the chance when he was nearly clean on through in the second half then I reckn his second touch was heavy and took it to the keeper, after that any contact and he went down. A better second touch and he’d have made sure he’d stayed on his feet and a great chance to score, IMHO.

  • Michael Lazarou

    It was quite a good performance good 3points even thou we were hanging on a bit , but I feel we are still letting the ather teams have more possession inthe whole game same with the shrewsbury game they had more of the ball, and I feel better teams will be attacking more because they would have more possession , and I feel are away game that we be defending a lot more, and therefore more chances of conceding, i like to see Leeds pass and keep the ball more so we have more possession , if we keep the ball and make easy passes then the ather teams won’t be able to attack us as much and therefor we would have more of the play

  • markman

    great to see nw giving Byram his debut in the league.he must think very highly of him considering the quality of jarvis,who must be one of the best in that position in the championship,facing him.what with lees starting on the bench,the defence looks very good.
    shame to see Rogers seems to be on the way out,he certainly put his body on the line.

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