GFH off to a flyer as Leeds clip Eagles’ wings Matt Burton November 24, 2012 Leeds United, Match reviews 15 Comments 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.