Leeds failed to score for the first time this season as a stunning Leroy Lita strike gave Birmingham City victory on another disappointing day at Elland Road. Watched from the stands by potential future chairman David Haigh, Neil Warnock’s men lost their recent unbeaten streak by putting in a performance of occasional promise but infrequent cutting edge.

The 1-0 defeat brought a limp end to a week which promised much but ultimately delivered very little. Home fixtures against lowly Charlton and Birmingham had fans optimistic of a 6 point haul and an onslaught upon the play-off places. However, the single point gained leaves the Whites in mid-table and desperately in need of an upturn in fortunes.

Warnock made four changes from the side which put in an abject performance during Tuesday night’s bore score draw. Captain Lee Peltier returned to the team following injury and took up an unusual position in the centre of defence alongside Jason Pearce. To make way for Peltier, Tom Lees was pushed out to the right-back position and Sam Byram moved forwards into midfield. Out of the team, unsurprisingly, went Paul Green, Michael Brown and Luke Varney as Rodolph Austin and Michael Tonge returned. The other change saw Adam Drury replaced by Danny Pugh, who made a rare appearance at left-back.

That left the substitutes bench reflecting the colours of the Autumnal/Wintery weather, with Green, Brown, White and Gray all on standby.

The opening half was an even and goalless affair, though Birmingham looked more fluent in attack. Curtis Davies headed wide with the first real chance of the afternoon as the away team took the early initiative.

Leeds started slowly, but grew into the match as Austin and Norris began to make more of a mark in the centre of the field. A powerful long range strike from Austin was saved by the legs of England goalkeeper Jack Butland as the match approached the half-hour mark.

As usual, El Hadji Diouf was at the heart of everything good about Leeds in an attacking sense, consistently holding up the ball and attempting to create chances. The other positive force was Sam Byram, who at just 19 years of age is quickly establishing himself as the new Jonny Howson. Byram’s performances of late have been so assured and constructive that he is surely one of the first names on Warnock’s team-sheet each week and undoubtedly tops Chris Houghton’s January shopping list in East Anglia.

In spite of looking more confident and skilful, Birmingham created few chances of note before the break.

Leeds looked livelier during the second half and began to dominate.  However, in spite of a lot of possession and thrust, the final ball was consistently lacking. The team looked like one in need of a creative player to unlock the stubborn defence of Lee Clark’s men. Crosses towards Luciano Becchio were persistently wayward and a procession of corners from Diouf or Tonge failed to beat the first man time and time again.

With Leeds on top, Warnock seemed to be delaying making any substitutions in the hope that the players on the field would find a way through sooner or later. That moment almost arrived on the seventy minute mark as a Byram cross was headed towards goal by Diouf, only for Butland to make an impressive one-handed save.

Butland’s save proved to be pivotal, as Birmingham struck the killer blow just minutes later. Striker Leroy Lita, on loan in the midlands from Swansea, collected the ball thirty yards from goal and hit a fierce strike past Paddy Kenny as the Leeds defence stood off. It was a goal worthy of winning any match and a hammer blow to Leeds who had looked more likely to break the deadlock in the second period.

Warnock responded by bringing on Aidan White and handing recent signing Ryan Hall his debut, but with only ten minutes to make an impression neither had the chance to change the match. In fact, Marlon King could have added a second Birmingham goal late on as he rattled the crossbar from distance. Three minutes of stoppage time could not inspire Leeds to snatch a late equaliser and a chorus of boos welcomed the final whistle.

As I was leaving the stadium, I overheard a man talking to a young boy. He said, “I’m sorry that this was your first ever Leeds match, but don’t worry, it gets a lot worse than this”.

Many thanks to those of you who entered my ‘predict the score’ competition on Twitter. However, nobody predicted an away win – so no competition winner this time. Send your predictions (including goalscorers) for the next home match to me @Matt_K_Burton for the chance to be mentioned in the match report.

  • Matthew

    Personally I think we’ve hit a brick wall, if we don’t go through it, we can forget about hitting the playoffs this season as things will only get downhill as other teams get an even bigger lead over us.

    Winning 5 of our remaining 10 games would put us in the mix for the playoffs though, assuming we better our previous 23 games. But I think in general most people would agree we’ve hit an epically huge roadblock and have stalled in the race for the playoffs.

    • Matthew

      By remaining 10 games, I’m splitting the season into 2 lots of 23 games. Just to be clear lol.

    • Irving08

      Agree Mathew. Personally I am a bit bothered by Warnock’s apparent passivity when changes are needed; also I don’t really understand some of his selections. Why play Pugh rather than White at left back, for example ?; and whatever the marginal gain that may ensue from playing Peltier in the centre is surely more than offest by the loss of forward thrust when Lees is put at right back: today cried out for full backs who could ‘overlap’ and pull the centre halves wide and we did not have them. The obvious midfield weaknesses can be put down to the personnel at this disposal; but the other items are ones for which he is responsible. Still at at least we have the excellent young Bryam to admire….every inch the real deal.

      • Matthew

        Well said, I agree pretty much with everything mentioned. While Warnocks team selection was poor, I do understand he doesn’t have any other choice as the money just isn’t there. I just hate watching hoofball, and these dire performances. I know we have a better team than other teams performing better than us, such as the scum down south called Millwall who ironically trashed Huddersfield 4 – 0 today.

        We’re a million miles away from being playoff material. I hate to say it, not even a win against Brighton(Though extremely unlikely to happen) will change my mind. If these guys wanting to take over the club are serious about it, they should conclude this deal and give Warnock the money to sign at least 3-4 loan players with a view to making the deals permanent in Jan, I count about 5 decent players in this team playing, which ironically includes Byram, Kenny, Diouf, Pearce is okay and Ross. Lees does alright, Green needs gametime.

        We just can’t continue with this hoofball shit. It needs to stop and if this takeover happens and Warnock gets money, the first thing he needs to do is stop telling the squad to lump the ball to Becchio and Diouf, the former can’t seem to control it well.

        • Chareose

          I agree Matt but I think we have to guard against over-reaction….. We have just had the stuffing knocked out of us at Hillsborough due to a Pillock punching a goalkeeper……. The players and the fans have been effected by that …hence poor attendances. Warnock stated at the start of the season that we were 3 players short and to my mind hes proven spot on……. For me personally I loathe long ball and it certainly wont win you games in the Premiership but in my mind there is NO doubt that Warnock is a quality manager and can get us promoted.
          That said January may be too late to turn things around

          • Matthew

            Attendances in general have been down all season, and the previous buzz and good will that was felt by a lot of fans is starting to fade quite quickly. The Weddy derby game wouldn’t of affected the squad at all, squads have to play through all manners of shit on the pitch, you only have to look at what the Under 21s in the England vs Serbia game went through and most went back and performed as usual.

            We’re a lot more than 3 players short, I would say 5-7 players, we never should of sold Snoddy. More effort should of been put into keeping him, we need at least 2 wingers with pace, such as Snod, Gradel, a decent creative midfielder who can create chances, a decent defensive midfielder, a decent striker such as Beckford who can make up for the abscence of Ross and of course to play alongside him, and a couple of ‘better’ defenders. Some dodgy performances from Lees, Peltier aside.

            We lack pace, and players that can literally run the opposition defenders ragged, we lack that spark in the midfield that can create chances from nowhere and dictate the flow of the game. We’re slow and lethargic.

  • igiveup

    i give up

  • DrD

    Bored of the usual rubbish. No quality.This is Warnock’s team and they are already running out of time. T/O or no T/O the players must realise they are playing for Leeds United and quite frankly they are not up to it at the moment. Need a massive run to get back into the mix. Warnock, time is running out!

  • Alpine White

    We need a new strike force up front, Becchio has been dreadful for a long time, sure he has scored some goals but how many have been quality? Being in the right place at the right time or penalty taking is easy for a half decent professional; why on earth has Poleon gone out on loan? Him and Ryan Hall would inject some much needed pace into the side, we are so sluggish it’s painful.

    • wjohn228

      Poleon has gone out on loan because he is a million miles from being a Championship player

      • Bubionwhite

        He’d be in good company then after the last few team performances … can the same be said about Robbie Rogers or is it that Neil just doesn’t like the guy. He is a full USA international who can play on either flank or as a 2nd striker. He has pace to burn with the ability to go past defenders … seem to remember that this is why Ryan Hall was signed, perhaps we are already paying most of the wages and the answer lies within … give the guy his opportunity Neil.

        • henrymouni

          “Robbie Rogers continues to struggle at Stevenage. The midfielder was an unused substitute in their 4-0 home defeat by Swindon Town”.

  • Mickerick

    Performances have gone down hill since the Hilsborough game, no coincidence the behaviour of the “louts” effects the team and the club and any potential new owners, it will take Warnock another week to get the spirit back

    • Chareose

      not sure why this comment has been voted down because hes right…..when all that happened I thought our performances would dip just as attendances have……guess the truth hurts some people

  • Alpine White

    …good to see young Byram having a go though…but not a great deal else to shout about! ….in fact the predicted improvement in atmosphere from Tursday did not materialse but need more from the team to liven things up a bit….

  • Col

    ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz………..!
    Watching Leeds is enough to send a glass eye to sleep!
    Why does warnock deploy such negative tactics? He always talks with such enthusiasm, which is in stark contrast to his brand of football.
    It’s no wonder our attendances are dropping faster than a slag with lead knickers!
    C’mon Warnock, sort it out.
    Ps. BATES OUT!

  • Matthew

    Also, if Warnock doesn’t want the atmosphere to be crap at home, give the crowd something to cheer about. No one will cheer the team being outplayed by lesser sides, no one will cheer the constant loss of the ball, via either hoofball, or some players just genuinely lacking skill. Play a decent game of football and the crowd will get behind you, regardless of its only 17k or 30k. The atmosphere will be booming if you simply give the crowd what they want. You’re not doing that.

  • Col

    Petier has been pretty crap all season but to be fair, we were warned by Leicester City supporters that although he’s a defender, he can’t actually defend.

  • Paddy1992

    Jesus Christ. What is it with Leeds fans?! 2 weeks ago warnock was the best thing since sliced bread and players like Austin, tonge and lees were been lauded as gods on this very site. A few good performances don’t make a good side nor do a few bad ones make a bad side. We are where we are because of the continued lack of ambition shown by our board. Hard work commitment and team spirit will carry you to mid table, pace and class will get you promoted. For f*** sake the latter 2 attributes cost money. Grow up Leeds fans see the bigger picture and stop whining about warnock and his ramshackle team. And if u think I’m wrong just think about what brum did to us last season. Rant over.

    • Chareose

      totally agree…..reading lots of whiner postings from people who a week ago thought warnock walked on water

      • Matthew

        Paddy wouldn’t of posted that had he attended some of the more recent games. Infact the Charlton game is the worse performance I have seen in years and was quite frankly awful, I was pretty much disgusted by the game in general.

        And you can’t say I thought Warnock walked on water, I barely post on here these days. I just can’t see how Warnock is taking us forward, we’re not getting destroyed like last season but we’re not showing any kind of presence or danger on the pitch to teams. We’ve been found out and any manager who is worth his salt will dismantle us.

        Starting to think the same as I did about Grayson and soon enough my expectations will be downgraded to hopes that we simply avoid relegation this season. If David Haigh is serious about buying this club with his GFH buddy’s he needs to start thinking about life beyond Warnock.

        I’m not impressed.

      • Irving08

        Do not confuse constructive criticism with whining. It is perfectly possible to support both a manager and a team/squad in general, while seeking to comment helpfully on particular items.

  • Chareose

    Diouf needs to be sat behind the two strikers in a free role…… we need Mccormack back, someone to push Becchio and a top class winger or ball player. Also think that Warnock would like a new left back as he cant seem to find what he wants with Pugh, Drury and White……..SO THREE TOP CLASS PLAYERS SHORT THEN>>> thats what was stated after transfer window closed so to be fair to Neil he was spot on

    • Irving08

      Warnock has a perfectly good left back – White, who more than held his own in tussles with this Division’s best wide men last season: he just needs to give the lad a chance to settle in the position – similarly with Peltier at right back. Lees and Pearce together may lack pace, but I don’t believe this is a fatal weakness given their other qualities. NW needs then to decide finally who of Austin or Brown is to play in front of the back four (as he seems to want to play this way) – let’s say Brown, so Austin together with Tongue and Byram forms a three in front of them, with Green gradually coming into the equation (Austin perhaps taking Brown’s place). The most difficult bit is the remaining two positions…..My overall point being that we are not as ramshackle as Paddy would have us think – although we are lacking in pace, most crucially up top…As for ‘class’, there’s not much about in this Division. And I hope NW can pick himself up again, as well as the team: it has been his demeanour that has bothered me most in the last two home games. ‘Keep on an even keel, Neil’.

      • mrbigwheels

        Well said Irving.

  • henrymouni

    It reminds me of many recent seasons.
    Poor performances and lucky results.
    Players seem to lose their way when they join us?
    We have been poor to average for most of the season.
    I like NW, but his win ratio has been disappointing since he joined us.
    It will be interesting to see what the new owners do, if it goes through.
    With the takeover just around the corner, NW should be looking to bring in some cream on loan.
    Exciting times ahead. Please!!

    • TimPM

      Let’s be honest with ourselves. We’re shit, we’ve been shit for the better part of a decade, and we’ll be shit nezt season too.
      Oh, wait, apparently some magical faeries are flying in with pots of gold, they’ve just been delayed since May… ——————

      • henrymouni

        Oh Tim!
        You sound a bit down buddy!
        An eternity of shite for us??

        • billymcadams

          It was my second game of the season…yes shame on me… and it was a poor afternoon..you regulars over the past decade have my undying respect…I could not cope with it…suffering scores on the internet is bad enough…I go about five or six times each season..yet Im still devoted..can that be true?…I think so but not like you suffering regulars..anyway they stuck at it after a poor start but lacked attacking bite and width and confidence…huff and puff..surely White adds better width than Tonge..I hope Hall can do the same on the right…Diouf and Austin lacked the bite and zest I saw against Oxford..hopefully Austin is still carrying a knock..on that performance they looked lower mid-table Im afraid

  • mrbigwheels

    Yes…. it’s a pile of poo but …….What goes around comes around. It will happen!. Stay positive and get your heads up.

    Ok, the timing of this TO/Investment is now totally out of line for this season but if it goes through very soon we will be in a great position to build a talented team for the future.

    How the hell can anyone expect Warnock to do a QPR when his hands are tied and has never been given the financial support he was promised. The realistic fan knows £5m minimum HAD to be on the table in the pre-season period and where that money needed spending on the pitch.

    Bates is still in charge, just waiting for the dosh. He has never invested in the team and never will. He’s always been frightened of the financial commitment required of being in the Prem. Why would he when everything has just flowed into his coffers anyway.

    GFHC seem to be the White Knights and ‘to be honest’ after the original fallen takeover bid they were leading to the table, I’m thankful there is something going on suggesting every possibility of Bates leaving this club… once and for all.

    The single fact that GFHC are involved could be seen as a blessing in disguise presently offering financial support to a dire cashflow problem. It is so difficult for all of us that just want to see this Club progress but please do not lose sight of the only priority we should have and that is to see Bates leave LUFC. His time is up and while he’s around we will only tread water, be on the edge of a Manager leaving mid season and further demoralisation of the team and its support.

    Let’s be thankful for what we’ve got today and believe our future is to be brighter soon rather than the alternative of no buyer, no manager and Bates still spinning his crap and taking this Club down.