Leeds maintained their recent unbeaten run and ended a streak of losing home league matches on Tuesdays with a 1-1 draw at home to newly-promoted Charlton Athletic. But this was a poor and uninspiring match from which the Whites were fortunate take a point.
The less said about this match, the better. Nevertheless, I will attempt below to describe the very few highlights from an evening on which the lowly 17,000 crowd were as flat as the disjointed performance on the pitch.
Following Friday evening’s infamously eventful match in Sheffield, Neil Warnock made four changes to the starting eleven. Out went injured captain Lee Peltier, replaced at left-back by Adam Drury. The midfield saw wholesale changes, with the jetlagged Rodolph Austin being rested along with wide players Michael Tonge and Aidan White. Into the team came David Norris, Paul Green and the much-derided Luke Varney.
The opening half an hour was a turgid display of feeble football from two Championship sides providing all the quality of a Sunday league pub contest. Charlton started brighter, though Leeds did have half chances with Jason Pearce heading over and Norris seeing a shot blocked. The most notable moment of the opening period was the flag related malfunction which caused the assistant referee to wave only a stick when the ball went out for a Leeds throw in. Cue chants from the kop; “we always get s**t flags”.
In a flashback to Leeds’ previous home match against Barnsley, Warnock’s men would take a highly undeserved lead into the dressing room at half time. Norris, one of the better performers of the evening, fired in from the edge of the area to provide the first half’s sole moment of quality. Tom Lees almost levelled immediately for Charlton, but saw his own goal attempt thwarted by the crossbar.
If a half-time lead left the home support dreaming of an improved second period, then those dreams were swiftly flattened as Charlton drew level after 50 minutes. Dorian Dervite fired through a crowd of players from the edge of the area, leaving Paddy Kenny unsighted and beaten.
The equaliser did temporarily spur Leeds into action for 10 minutes. El Hadji Diouf began to dictate play and won several corners. Sam Byram headed over following a good move, but in spite of the improvements there was still very little in terms of final product.
For the final half an hour, the match descended once again into pub football. Leeds continually pumped long-balls towards Luke Varney and Luciano Becchio, whose headers would simply fall at the feed of an opposition defender time and time again. Becchio, Varney and Paul Green were ineffective throughout and were unsurprisingly replaced as Warnock tried in desperation to get his side going. On came Tonge, White and Andy Gray, but alas the passes remained misplaced and the shots remained non-existent.
As the match drew towards a close, Charlton smelled blood and went for a sucker punch. Paddy Kenny had to be alert to deny Bradley Wright-Phillips and also pulled off a stunning save in the third minute of injury time to ensure that at least a point was salvaged from the evening. Simply for managing to conjure several shots on target, Charlton probably deserved to sneak a win.
A poor match, but Leeds do now find themselves in seventh place in the Championship table and looking upwards towards the play-off positions.
Many thanks to those of you who entered my ‘predict the score’ competition on Twitter. The closest guess came from Alfie George Burns (@BurnsAlfie) who predicted a 2-2 draw and a goal from Norris. 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.