Leeds welcomed new owners GFH Capital to Elland Road in perfect style as Ian Holloway’s table-topping Crystal Palace were edged out in an exciting encounter. The victory breathes new life into Leeds’ faltering season and hints at better times to come as the club enters a new era.

Following Wednesday’s takeover announcement and a clichéd ‘injection of cash’, Neil Warnock had been able to bring in two loan signings from Premier League clubs and both made an immediate debut. Alan Tate joined Tom Lees, Lee Peltier and Sam Byram in defence, while Jerome Thomas lined up on the left-hand side of a midfield which included Michael Tonge, David Norris and Paul Green. The fit again Ross McCormack had to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench as Warnock kept faith with a front pairing of Luciano Becchio and El Hadji Diouf.

Following the disastrous 3-5-2 experiment which resulted in a heavy defeat to Watford, it was a relief to see Warnock opting for a 4-4-2, with players being tasked with roles they are familiar with.

Holloway’s Eagles arrived in Leeds on top form, having soared to the top of the league over recent weeks. Amongst their ranks was England’s latest star, Wilfred Zaha – a menacing prospect for any team in the division. Palace’s rise has been so impressive of late that not even post-takeover optimism had many Leeds fans confident of taking the points.

Leeds dominated the opening twenty minutes with a display of attacking intent superior to anything the team has produced in the league this season. Jerome Thomas was lively and dangerous, taking on his man and delivering crosses at will.

Not only were Leeds on top, but they were also creating chances. A recent trait of Warnock’s team has been an unwillingness (or inability) to carve out efforts on goal – a trait that was well and truly quashed by a new found urgency and cutting edge. A Becchio header was well saved, as were a number of efforts from David Norris, Leeds’ stand out performer of the opening exchanges.

However, Palace look down upon the rest of the league for a reason and duly found their way into the match. Full of pace and trickery, Zaha looked particularly threatening and Sam Byram did well on a number of occasions to avoid being completely bamboozled by the Championship’s star player. Byram’s shackling of Zaha was reminiscent of his impressive opening-day debut performance against Wolves’ Matt Jarvis, and further raises the youngster’s value to Leeds.

Strong defending from Tate and Lees, along with a double-save from Paddy Kenny, ensured that the score was goalless at the break. An entertaining half of football was marred slightly by two unnecessary moments of simulation from Palace players, the latter being a poor dive from Zaha on the stroke of half time which raised tempers in the stands and on the field.

Surveying their new empire from an east stand executive box, David Haigh et al were festooned with Leeds scarves, endearing themselves to the Elland Road faithful and signalling that they intend to be at one with the fans, in direct contrast with their predecessor.

Palace began the second half brighter, but it was Leeds who took the lead on fifty-one minutes. Lee Peltier sent over a cross, which was headed down at the back post by Paul Green. The ball ricocheted off two Eagle’s defenders and fell in the six yard box for Becchio to emphatically hammer home. Cue delirious scenes in the kop and restrained yet welcome applause in the executive box.

Back came Palace, showing the ‘bouncebackability’ that Holloway instils in his teams. But, for all of their flair, chances were at a premium for the visitors. Leeds were nervy, yet comfortable.

That feeling of comfort was amplified tenfold with a quarter of an hour to play as a deflected Paul Green shot from inside the area gave Leeds an unassailable two goal advantage. Green had an excellent game today, finally beginning to show the qualities that convinced Warnock to tempt him to leave Derby for West Yorkshire in the summer.

Dominic Poleon and Ross McCormack entered the fray, and both provided hope of a third goal. What a difference it makes to have players of that quality available on the bench, a luxury that Leeds have rarely been able to call upon this season.

With five minutes remaining, Peter Ramage headed past Kenny from close range to give Palace hope. Nerves exuded from every corner of the stadium as the away side pressed hard for an unlikely equaliser. But it was to be Leeds’ day, as the side weathered five minutes of injury time to take all three points.

A new dawn has risen at Elland Road, and it got off to the perfect start.

Thank you to everyone who entered my ‘predict the score’ competition on Twitter. Nobody predicted the goal-scorers correctly, but there were a few correct guesses at the 2-1 score from @31irk, @Fluff123 and @IDWakefield.

15 Responses

  1. Ady

    Did not think green could play like that! What a difference a week can make feeling more positive now mot

    • TSS

      Seriously? He was the best player on the pitch before he got injured, everyone was raving about him.

      • Matthew

        Agreed, some people here said he was slow when he came back from injury, I’m like dude is awesome, give him time, he just needs gametime and volla he came good.

  2. lambrettadan

    Glad to hear some positive comments finally, just reading some other websites with people moaning about the attendance, who cares ?? the missing 1000s will return once we string a few wins together. Now feel its game on, we can beat leicester tues and I really hope its payback time for huddesfield after that. I’ll be polite, scralling on Billy has not been forgotten……
    Keep the faith, in Warnock we trust. MOT

  3. Matthew

    We still have a hell of a long way to go if we want playoffs this season, ages ago I said we should be aiming for 35 points from 23 games, then if we better that result in the final 23 games we’d get the playoffs, with a min of 73-76 points. To be on track for that we need to win at least 4 of our next 5 games. If we beat Leicester and Huddersfield, and go into the easier games against Ipswich and Derby our season would be well and truely saved.

    Question is, can it happen, will it happen? Will Warnock pull a miracle out his ass and salvage this season?

    • Flippin-Pop-It-Bruva

      Why are there Man U sponsors on the right hand side of the page…lol…I feel a bit violated lol not sure they will get many bookings through this site to be fair lol

  4. spellz lufc

    Much needed win I have always felt positive about this takeover and I hope this is the start of a more positive step forward maybe the team can start to see the structure of our club coming together and start playing the football everyone wants them to play we still need a few new faces of real quality, (,jerome thomas was a good start not to mention tate) to challenge for promotion.
    I guess we’ll see by feb just how much the new board are willing to spend cause if there is one thing warnock likes to do its buying players but we needed to beat palace and did it good style lets just hope we can string a run together now as the next few games are essentially the most important right now till were in breathing distance of the playoffs.

  5. mylifeinleeds

    Better match reports than the BBC here! I think this is where our season starts. Like a few have mentioned, the test of how much money GFH have at their disposal will be in January, that said, what we need are players that have some battle, spirit in them. Established Championship players who want to play at the highest level, not overpaid Premiership players who are here for the money before retirement. MOT!

  6. Michael Lazarou

    I always thought green was a good player when he played first 3 games for us hope fully he would improve more with new signings Tate and Thomas and give our team a lift

    • Matthew

      Thomas and Tate didn’t just give us a lift, they were like a rocket blasting us towards greatness.

  7. Michael Lazarou

    Lets just hope with macormack back in the team and new signing Tate and Thomas that Leeds can now go on a run and move right up the table

  8. Michael Lazarou

    Some people seem to forget that it takes time to bed a vertually anew team together lets face it even goodl players takes time for them to know each anthers play and to gel together I for one right at the beginning said hopefully we can scrape in to the playoff, I’m realist and not expecting to be in top four , I’m mean you look at any team that has to build vertually a new team like QPR for instance look how long it’s taking them to gel and get results

  9. Irving08

    It was interesting to compare the two right backs on show. The comparison probably favours Byram, though I can see why Warnock wanted Ward so badly: his interventions were excellent. I doubt that Warnock will bring Poleon on again when we are just 1-0 ahead; still he had the sense to take him off when his presence threatened to lose us the three points.

    We missed Austin less than had been anticipated: Green, as we knew, is a proper footballer, while Tongue is plainly more at home inside. Great game and result. (Only negativish thing for me, standing in the upper Kop, was the reminder of our darker days in one of the songs – directed against those likeable non-cockneys from South London too. I am fear we will hear more of this if, or as we resurge.)
    Now for the gentlemen of Leicester.


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