Tom Lees headed home from a corner to fire Leeds United into an unlikely lead at Blackpool last night, a lead that The Whites held on to right up until the final 15 minutes when the intense and relentless pressure Ian Hollway’s side were putting on Leeds was finally rewarded.
In truth, Leeds never deserved to take anything from this game. Blackpool were by far the better team, in every area of the pitch for the entire duration of the fixture.
Neil Warnock’s side had somehow escaped wave after wave of Blackpool attack, helped in no small part by Paddy Kenny who made several good saves.
But after chasing shadows for the majority of the match, seemingly unable to take control of the ball and relieve the pressure with any substantial spell of possession the Leeds United side tired and a frustrated Blackpool were finally able to make their chances count.
The equaliser came from a quick one-two that tore straight through Warnock’s defence with brutal efficiency, allowing former Leeds man Stephen Crainey to cut the ball back across the six yard box and gift Nouha Dicko the simplest of finishes at the back post.
Seeing how simple and effective it was to get in behind Leeds United’s defence and cut back across the six yard box, Blackpool repeated the trick five minutes later with exactly the same outcome. This time it was substitute Matt Phillips firing home from close range.
Leeds had frustrated Blackpool for much of the night, but in the end, their superior quality told and the result was entirely deserved.
It’d be all too easy to blame right-back Sam Byram for both of the goals, but the truth is, Blackpool created chance after chance throughout the game and it’s nothing more than coincidence and bad luck the two that counted came from the youngsters area of the pitch. They could just as easily have came from the opposite side or straight through the middle, such was the ease with which Blackpool moved through our defence.
Had it not been for Paddy Kenny’s heroics and a huge amount of luck, this defeat could have been a much heavier one. The problem – as I’ve already mentioned – is that Leeds have no one capable of relieving pressure by retaining possession, so Blackpool found it all too easy to forge attacks and maintain their attacking momentum. It was an absolute onslaught of relentless attacking power which Leeds were incapable of matching, leaving Blackpool with very little to worry about at the opposite end and able to leave more men forward.
From the moment Tom Lees scored Leeds seemed to be trying to hold on to their one goal lead with desperate defensive clearances the order of the day. This served not only to gift possession straight back to Blackpool, but it also meant Leeds were chasing shadows for the entire match. Consequently, Leeds tired quicker than Blackpool did and things only got easier for our opponents.
Taking a one goal lead early and trying to hold on for dear life is not a game plan which is going to work very often. We defended like we were 1-0 up in stoppage time against far superior opposition, only the stoppage time was the entire match and the superior opposition was a side who could – and should – be used as a yardstick to measure how close we are to a team capable of achieving promotion. By every measurement, in every area of the pitch, Leeds United were thoroughly outclassed.
On and on…
Neil Warnock post match