The last team to beat us at Elland Road triumphed again as they held us to a 1-1 draw. The result brings an end to the fifteen successful league wins at Elland Road, but the Whites will take some consolation knowing they remain undefeated and move three points clear of Charlton who were hammered 3-0 by Colchester.  

The match saw a welcomed return for Leeds United skipper, Richard Naylor who partnered Patrick Kisnorbo at centre-back. Casper Ankergren also came in for the injured Shane Higgs. Jason Crowe was out injured with the adaptable Leigh Bromby switching to right-back whilst Lucciano Becchio returned after missing the MK Dons for the birth of his baby girl, Bianca.

There were a few recognisable faces in the Carlisle line-up with Ian Harte making his return to Elland Road for the visitors. Former academy players, Tom Taiwo and Gavin Rothery were also in the team, although Rothery remained on the bench throughout.

Leeds had the better of the opening stages with Lucciano Becchio heading over in the first minute and Robert Snodgrass went close. The game lacked urgency though and there were few decent chances for either side.

When the referee blew his whilstle on the half hour mark, both sides looked puzzled as to why. Micky Doyle had gone down fighting his way through the defence, but no one expected a penalty to be given, not even the Leeds fans. Leeds’ fortunes from the penalty spot failed to improve as Jermaine Beckford’s tame effort was saved by Pidgeley. The Carlisle keeper couldn’t keep hold of the ball though and Beckford followed up to tap it in. 1-0.

The game sprang to life briefly after this and Snodgrass went close to making it 2-0 when his curling effort beat the keeper but came back off the post. Carlisle countered, which led to Casper having to make his first save of the game. Carlisle created a bit of a threat when a curling free-kick had to be pucnhed clear by Ankergren (still not learnt to catch then!) but Leeds went in ahead at half-time.

The second half started as the first ended with Carlisle’s confidence building. Johnson hit a shot from range that went just over the bar, but it was Carlisle who applied the early second half pressure after that. They couldn’t find the finishing blow though and the game began to fizzle out. Jonny Howson did fire a shot wide, but other than that, Leeds had taken their foot off the gas and seemed happy to sit on the 1-0 lead.

Leeds paid for their failure to kill the game off when Carlisle brought on Scott Dobie. Within five minutes of coming on to the pitch, Carlisle had earnt a corner that he headed home. It would be easy to put this down to the return of Casper Ankergren, but for me it was more to do with the reshuffled defence that gave the striker far too much space.

Leeds sprang back to life with Prutton going close and Leeds firing balls in from corners and free-kicks. The final chance fell to Jermaine Beckford though who couldn’t connect quite right and fired over the bar after a nice flick from Enoch Showunmi.

Overall it was a poor game. Maybe it was the busy schedule the Whites have had lately leaving the team a bit tired or the changes Simon Grayson had to make, but either way we should have won this. Definitely two points lost rather than one earnt.

Looking on the positives, it’s good to remain undefeated and as Simon Grayson said after the match, we’d have taken this at the beginning of the season. That said, Charlton seem to have hit a bit of a rough patch at the minute and we need to take advantage of that and give ourselves some breathing space.

Both Robert Snodgrass and Leigh Bromby went off injured last night as the injuries begin to build already. Casper Ankergren still doesn’t convice me and if Shane Higgs is to be out for a while then he definitely needs replacing. Snoddy is a major concern too as he looked in serious pain when he went down and could be out for a while.

Simon Grayson’s reaction to the game and season so far;

“It was a quiet dressing room after the game but you have to be positive with the start we’ve had

“Being honest, we would have taken four points from the two games against MK Dons and Carlisle and we would have taken the start we’ve had – every team in the country would take it.

He goes on to add “I’m disappointed we didn’t win but ultimately it’s another point

“We were lacking the sharpness and quality we’ve had in other games, but you get performances like that.

We’ve had a busy schedule and there’s a few tired legs, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse.”

Elsewhere, Greg Abbott – who had earlier been sent to the stands for arguing with the officials – was left annoyed at the penalty decision but happy with his teams performance;

We’ve had a run of bad decisions against us lately and that was another. Their player was outside the box. I just wanted to ask the referee why he had awarded a penalty kick but I think the officials wanted me out of the ground and out of town! “I told the referee I wanted to talk to him. There was no swearing and no abusive language, though I suppose he will find something. They wouldn’t even let me on the pitch at the end to congratulate my players who had done themselves and the club proud, but those are the rules I suppose.”

TSS man of the match
All the team looked a little jaded and out of sorts at times, except for Jonny Howson who has continually impressed me all season. He battled well in the midfield, tried to create things when his team mates were lacking in ideas and ultimately stood out in a tired display from the Whites.

Next up is probably the biggest game of the season at home to Charlton. An expected crowd of over 30,000 will be at Elland Road for the clash of the top two and with Charlton currently looking a bit out of form, this could well be the chance to put some breathing space between us.