After a frantic dash to Walsall, I missed all opportunites for pre-match socialising and took my place just minutes before kick-off to find myself surrounded by almost 4,000 Leeds United fans.

Leeds dominated throughout the fixture, starting brightly and attacking well. The chances came, but Leeds failed to convert and when Walsall got a questionable penalty decision eleven minutes from time it looked like our luck had run out already. Walsall converted the penalty and Leeds were behind for the first time this season.

Walsall v Leeds 18-08-09

Great picture found on a forum of Leeds United fans and players celebrating.

The close to 4,000 Leeds fans that had travelled however urged the side on and within minutes we were level. The enigma that is Bradley Johnson levelled with an impressive diving header, leaving it to Jermaine Beckford to add an Hollywood finish to the game late on when he fired home from a long pass from Rui Marques to seal the third straight league victory for the Whites. 2-1.

After a couple of below-par performances where we grinded out a result, we look to have improved a lot against Walsall. Leeds attacked from the off and played well for pretty much all the 90 minutes.

Robert Snodgrass who has been relatively quiet so far had a much better game (moreso in the second half than the first admittedly) and was consistently involved in the attacks. He could have rounded the night off with a third in the final minutes, but fired into the side-netting. Leeds didn’t rest on the 2-1 win either despite there being just 3 minutes of the game left (plus added time). Snodgrass’ attempt was followed by another attack which he was involved in where he crossed looking for Jermaine Beckford, but a Walsall defender beat him to it and headed clear.

I think Walsall have been the toughest test of the 2009-10 season so far, but the fact we dominated and got the result is a very good sign. It’s games like these where we were dropping points last season and the ones that will ultimately be the difference between automatic and another one of those play-off “runs”.

We got a lot of things right tonight. For one we passed well, attacked well and looked a threat throughout the entire fixture rather than in fits and starts as in previous games. The team looked good all round with perhaps the right and left back positions remaining our biggest flaws. Hughes is totally unsuited to left-back and Larry’s logic in picking him continues to baffle me. From a defensive point of view he’s sort of OK most of the time, but like his counter-part at right-back, seems to struggle when attacked at pace. Like all right-footed players playing on the opposite wing, Hughes’ biggest problem is that he has to turn onto his stronger foot to whip a cross in, by which time, the attacking move has often broken down.

I don’t want to dwell on too many negatives as Crowe is a good enougb player for this division (although I’d like another option for when we come up against a pacey side) and Hughes is only filling in in Ben Parker’s absence.

100% record maintained, third in the league and a team shaping up nicely. Good to be a Leeds fan at the minute. Next up is John Barnes’ Tranmere, who lost 1-0 at home to MK Dons tonight. The confidence in the squad is building and although I’m not a fan of these last minute wins, I’ll happily take another 43 of them. On and on.

Walsall 1-2 Leeds United

TSS man of the match/Jermaine Beckford watch
I’m going to go with Jermaine Beckford, with Patrick Kisnorbo a very close second. Although Becks had a lot more chances than he scored and perhaps should have got his name on the scoresheet earlier, he’s a constant threat who forces teams to keep players back and keeps defenders busy throughout. His goal, his celebration and his contribution all round were quality. “Sign your contract for the lads!”

On a side note, I just want to give a quick plug to another Leeds United blog written by a fellow supporter. Like so many of us, ‘MOT’ travels up and down the country following the Whites and updates it on his blog ‘Travels of a Leeds fan’. Well worth checking out.