Leeds back in automatic places with win over Carlisle TSS April 14, 2010 Match reviews 27 Comments Leeds United moved back into second place with a comfortable win over a Carlisle side with one of the worst central defensive partnerships you’re ever likely to see. It was the strange cycle of League One results that helped Leeds United clinch back an automatic place. Only a couple of weeks back, Millwall strolled to a 2-0 victory over Leeds United. Leeds finally got back to winning ways however with a win over Yeovil Town, so logic suggests that Millwall are better than Leeds, Leeds are better than Yeovil so Millwall should pretty much walk past Yeovil. Unfortunately for Millwall, logic is something that rarely applies to League One and it was only a last gasp goal that clinched them a 1-1 draw. Leeds meanwhile had a much easier time of it as they exploited a weak Carlisle defence without the help of top-goalscorer Jermaine Beckford. Before Leeds registered their first goal, Max Gradel missed what was a great one on one chance v the Carlisle keeper and Richard Naylor had a header ruled out for what I assume was pushing in the box. Snoddy also had a chance to put Leeds ahead but blazed his shot high over the bar as Carlisle’s defensive pairing – which included former Leeds United left-back Ian Harte – struggled to cope. All this, and the clock had only just hit ten minutes. Just a few minutes later and Leeds took the lead they deserved with Luciano Becchio opening the scoring. A free-kick from Snoddy looked easy for the Carlisle keeper, but he spilled his catch and Luci was on hand to give Leeds United the lead. The game continued in much the same manner with Luci missing a chance that was easier to score and Max Gradel losing out on another one on one chance against the Carlisle keeper. It’s no exaggeration when I say Leeds United should have been four or five goals up by this point. As we’ve seen so many times however, failing to take your chances usually leads to you being punished and there was no let off here for the Whites. Minutes before half time Ian Harte whipped in a powerful free-kick which was weighted perfectly for Richard Keogh to direct it home and level the tie at the interval. As bad as Ian Harte was in defence, he was Carlisle’s biggest threat elsewhere. His perfectly hit free-kick made it all too easy for Keogh to level the tie. 1-1 A frustrating interval for the Leeds United faithful who almost unanimously agreed Beckford would have had a hattrick by now. Although definitely out of form lately, it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t have had a field day with the endless chances Leeds United wasted and the sheer uselessness of Carlisle’s defence. Despite the wasted chances of the opening 45 minutes, Simon Grayson stood by his starting line-up and was rewarded almost instantly when Max Gradel fired Leeds United back in front. Leeds pressed forward immediately from the restart and with the first proper attack of the second period a cross landed nicely for Gradel who headed home to put Leeds back in front. Just three minutes later and the game was over when a ball from Gradel set Luciano Becchio free who slotted home to put the game totally beyond Carlisle’s reach with forty minutes left to go. Euphoria broke out in the away end with the Leeds fans fully aware of the score in Yeovil and sensing there may be more to come for the Whites. “Na na na na na na na, Leeds are going up!” A welcomed return for that chant. The Leeds fans were now urging Luciano Becchio on to finish his hattrick and he was gifted the perfect opportunity but his header from close range lacked direction and was far too easy for the opposition keeper. However happy he’ll be with the two goals, Luci must be disappointed with the series of easy chances he missed. The game kind of died off with Leeds comfortably in front and Carlisle posing little threat. Beckford and Grella got a bit of a cameo role with a couple of minutes left to play but this was probably more time wasting than anything else as neither had any chance to score with the team seemingly happy with the scoreline. Can’t help thinking this should have been closer to a rugby score, but it was total dominance from Leeds. Three straight wins and back in the automatic spot so can’t complain really. Leeds without Beckford Hard to say we were better without him because Carlisle’s defence was pathetic and he’d have probably had a field day had he started. Some of the chances Luci missed were criminal, but not surprising as he’s never been the most natural of goalscorers (and may not be 100% match fit). I guess the major difference is that Luci relies on hard work to get his goals, whilst Beckford gets his with clever positioning and by playing off the shoulder of the last man. In this game, Beckford would have definitely been more effective, but in those games where the chances are few and far between, the hard-working partnership of Becchio and Gradel would likely pay off. A definite thinking point for Larry as the debate undoubtedly rages on… TSS man of the match Despite my criticism of his missed chances, Luci’s hard work paid off and he won us the game so the man of the match could be no one elses. I know it sounds like I’m yoyo-ing a bit here, but two six yard misses are hard to ignore. Still, he never gave up, kept his head high and sent us back to Yorkshire with three points.