17 minute hat-trick for Luci

The first league game between Bristol City and Leeds United for more than 30 years got under way after a minutes silence was held around the country to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country. The teams were also wearing modified kits, which included a red poppy to mark the occasion and there was a number of service men and women in attendance at the game.

In the Bristol City side were a few familiar faces, not least of which was former England keeper, David James. Former Leeds United Academy player, Danny Rose also made his return to Elland Road as a Bristol player on-loan from Tottenham Hotspur – he started from the bench.

Simon Grayson meanwhile remained as unpredictable as ever. The Leeds boss once again went with a 4-5-1 formation, but had replaced Luciano Becchio with Davide Somma alone up front. More surprising perhaps, was Bradley Johnson retaining his place in the team after an absolute mare of a game against Hull City in midweek.

It was a slow and scrappy opening ten minutes, but Leeds United eventually took control of the game with a long spell of patient passing that retained possession whilst they looked for an opening. The extended spell of possession ended when Jonny Howson back-heeled the ball into the path of Davide Somma, who despite a poor first touch, managed to get a shot away which was well saved by David James.

Jonny Howson remained influential in everything and was once again the provider as Max Gradel’s shot was deflected into the path of David James just minutes later. This time, Bristol City managed to break quickly with a brave Kasper Schmeichel denying Jon Stead, as Bristol forged their first real attack of the game.

Leeds remained the more dominant of the two sides, but the game was pretty scrappy overall and neither team created much in the way of solid goalscoring opportunities. Howson, Gradel and Snodgrass were all lively for Leeds but the final ball wasn’t there and the sides went in goalless at half time,

At half time, the talking point was the formation and the general consensus was that we needed to go 4-4-2 with the introduction of Becchio or Paynter alongside Somma. Grayson stuck to his guns though and the teams lined up for the second half unchanged.

With unchanged tactics, came an unchanged football match. Leeds remained the more dominant side, but a combination of mistakes, poor passing and offsides were starting to cause frustration and the crowd were getting restless.

After 15 minutes of the second half, the substitution board finally appeared but there was to be no change of formation as Grayson brought Becchio on for Somma and Sam on for Gradel. I thought the better option would have been Johnson or Killa off for Becchio with the team switching to 4-4-2, but what do I know?

Simon Grayson’s persistence with the 4-5-1 was fully vindicated just minutes later when Robert Snodgrass surged down the wing to cross in for Luciano Becchio to send Leeds United in front.

1-0 to Leeds. TSS silenced…

…for all of two minutes anyway, because that’s the amount of time it took Bristol City to equalize. Some pretty lousy defending from Leeds gifted Jon Stead the space to equalize with ease. 1-1. Game on.

The game had really sparked into life though as Grayson’s other substitute, Lloyd Sam was pulled back in the box and denied a clear penalty. Rather than complain about another injustice, Sam came again forcing a save from David James which spilled into the path of Luciano Becchio who scored his second in four minutes to put Leeds back in front. 2-1

Leeds remained in control and despite the self-destructive nature of our draw to Hull still fresh in memory and the added worry of Danny Rose’s introduction, I was confident our run of home games without victory was about to come to an end

My confident stance proved well-founded too, as McCartney delivered the cross that would provide Becchio with the chance to finish off his hattrick in front of the Kop. The Argentinian made no mistake, scoring his third in just 17 minutes to simultaneously end his run of games without a goal and Leeds’ run of home games without victory.

A couple of other chances after that, the best of which came from Bristol as they forced a save from Kasper Schmeichel but the game ended 3-1 and the Leeds fans left Elland Road happy for the first time since September the 25th (when we beat Sheffield United 1-0).

I was a bit mythed by the substitutions at the time, but in hindsight you can really see why Simon Grayson picks the team and why we watch on scratching our heads. Grayson used a similar tactic last year, letting the pacier striker start (Beckford) and sending the stronger, more physical striker on to finish them off. When Becchio and Sam were introduced, Bristol just couldn’t adapt to the new threat and were found wanting as Leeds went in for the kill.

Becchio also answered my recent criticisms in style today. After singling him out following the Scunthorpe and Coventry games, I actually thought he improved no end midweek (v Hull) and was surprised he started from the bench. But as I said above, the tactics worked well and Becchio was used to devastating effect.

That win takes Leeds up to 5th in the table as the twists and turns continue. It also takes our goal difference out of the negative with 31 for and 31 against. Never boring watching Leeds this season, is it?

TSS man of the match

Howson, Snoddy and Sam all had excellent games, as did O’Brien and McCartney who often get overlooked because of the dire defensive record Leeds have. The hat-trick hero takes the spoils though with a memorable three in front of the Kop.

64 Responses

  1. les irwin

    what a great hatrick for becchio his first for the club 2 worldy headers better performance all round we are getting better slowly and i have been the biggest critic of connelly but his last 2 game she has got forward a bit more i guess cos he knows he has got o’brien behind, him and bruce are doing ok good alround performance well done again although another goal conceeded

  2. Clarkeonenil

    Becchio, proper striker, scores, works and holds up the ball. Whilst 4-5-1 works there is no other player to play.

    The Becchio v Somma debate is over, now for the Becchio with Somma/Paynter/McCormack/No-one…

    • TSS


      Come on MG, one good game hardly makes up for the two where he had no effect, does it? I sound exactly like you criticising Beckford last year – we’ve gone full circle!

      Truth be told, I have nothing against Becchio but I’m also not blinded by man-love either and am able to acknowledge he has bad games as well as good ones – something far too many of you seem incapable of doing.

      • TheReaper08

        @TSS Why does one good game not make up for two where he had no effect ? Works for the Howson club……

  3. James Morris

    I thought Howson was best player by a country mile today…. Even though Becchio did score 3… Somma simply isn’t good enough as a lone striker and I thought Johnson looked out of his depth in midfield…

  4. Christopher Gee

    The headlines are deservedly all Becchio’s but agree with James about MOM today also note the fact we actually fielded the same 5 players in defence who started the last game and they looked comfortable working together. This is progress.

    • TSS

      @James Morris @derbyshirewhite

      I did too, but if I picked him for MOTM, people would say it was because I had a vendetta against Becchio! Haha.

      Over 90 minutes Howson was superb and had it not been for the hat trick, it would have been no contest.

  5. paulg

    Do you people watch the same games as me??? TSS, you say that Johnson had a “mare” against Hull ….. I thought he had a decent game, other than the OG. (You really can’t blame him for the first goal, however much you want to!)

    Johnson out of his depth? Without him today we would have been overrun – he worked tirelessly for 90 minutes, covered more ground than any three other players put together. Kilkenny was again ineffective; Howson had a good second half, but didn’t do much in the first. Certainly not MoM.

    Somma showed today that he’s no lone striker – can’t understand why SG thought he would do well in that role. It doesn’t play to his strengths.

    Had to smile when their Centre Half nearly put through his own goal in the first half; if that had been one of our defenders, you can bet your life it would have gone in!!!

    All in all I thought we looked a decent side today, but lacked any cutting edge until Becchio came on. I was listening to Radio 5 this evening, the Bolton Chairman was quoted saying they have financial problems …. hope we can make O’Brien a permanent deal in January.

    • timm

      @paulg Nothing i can add to that Paul. Spot on assessment. I thought Johnson was the biggest plus of the day. He was just breaking things up & then giving nice simple balls to get the other lads on their way. I was one of those wanting a 4-4-2 at half time,but it just goes to show how much us lot know! I would say in Sommas defence though that the team definately stepped up a gear when they made the subs,Somma didn’t get the service that Becchio got. McCartneys error for their goal was schoolboy stuff, but he made up for it a little bit with his cross for the third. A very pleasing performance,& especially nice to see Snoddy back on top of his game. He’s a real threat.

    • TSS

      I can’t recall one positive thing Johnson did v Hull, aside from the goal.

      As for whose to blame for the first goal, I agree no one could have seen it coming, but was the clumsy tackle beforehand really necessary?

      The own goal was laughable and sums up the talent held in his left foot, and aside from that he continued his record of having more shots (and less goals) than every other attacking player in the team – most of which were about a mile off target, wasting any chance we had going forward.

      I just don’t rate him. Weakest midfielder in the team as far as I’m concerned and I think the stats are testament to that.

    • White to the core

      Johnsons a sackless twat that constantly wastes possession, thinks hes Zico everytime he gets the ball which invariably ends up in row Z. Mind he scores the odd goal, IN HIS OWN NET! He has no bite or vision in midfield. Send the useless git off to the blue square premier where he might find the pace more to his liking. He is not one for our future. Unless our future lays in the divisions below. Get rid pronto!

  6. steo byrne

    All the bitching you did tss about becchio not being able to score goals and not being able to play as the lone striker and that somma should start instead of becchio what do you have to say know

  7. mightywhite

    not bad for a striker that just stands there trying to hold the ball up and gives away silly free kicks eh tss??????

    • TSS

      @mightywhite @steo

      As I said, he proved his point but you have to give the manager some credit too because it was only by changing them round and bringing Luci on late that he got the hat trick. It was a failure to respond from Bristol to the change of tactics that made the difference, and they just didn’t cope with a different kind of threat as well as they had Somma.

      Besides, that doesn’t change my view of the games v Coventry and Scunthorpe. He improved last week against Hull and again today, but let’s not pretend he’s incapable of a bad performance. Before this, he’d gone what… five/six hours or so…. without a goal?

  8. sawfeet

    Somma ain’t no target man like Becchio, but for 60 mins all the players kept lobbing the ball at him! Play it on the bleedin’ ground for him! With Gradel and Snoddy down the wings, and Howson pulling the strings the game plan was to use speed to play to Somma’s strengths, But no, we just lobbed it at him. So Plan B, and thankfully, that worked. 3 attempts on target, and 3 goals. Becchio now an impact sub! Hope Johnson doesn’t sign a contract, he is not a central midfielder no matter what he thinks. O’Brien is class and showed it again today – gives confidence and calming quality to Bruce, Connolly and McCartney. Gotta keep him.

  9. Chareose

    Actually i enjoy TSS ramblings, hes an honest fan with an opinion so lay off him over the Bechio thing pls…….

    • TheReaper08

      Sorry @Chareose @TSS was quite vocal in his dismissal of Becchio.

      As you reap so shall you sow and payback is a bitch.

      • TSS


        I’m in danger of repeating myself now, but he still didn’t play well in the games where I criticised him and blindly praising him regardless of performance is hardly productive. When he plays well, I’ve always acknowledged it and always will, but he does have bad games – whether his fan club chose to accept it or not!

      • TheReaper08

        @TSS For risk of also repeating myself, similar to Howson then ??

      • TSS


        Indeed. Funnily enough I said Howson was a spare part against Hull because he was marked out of the game, but that didn’t result in any crazed mob of irrational fans jumping to his defence.

        Becchio has developed a following of hardcore fans that lust over him and refuse to accept any criticism. It’s the same every time you say he was poor in a game, 20 people come on crying and pointing to his work rate – I’m sure the people who built the titanic worked extremely hard too, but evidently, weren’t without flaws.

        It’s insane.

        Also, what I said seems to have been twisted entirely out of context. I never once questioned his usefulness to the team, I just said that standing still with the ball at his feet is pointless without someone alongside him – which hasn’t changed. The goals he got were direct from crosses and from a rebounded Lloyd Sam shot. If Leeds had followed the same tactics they had for the first hour, and indeed for numerous games so far this season, he wouldn’t have got on the scoresheet.

      • TheReaper08

        @TSS That’s some of the most crazed nonsense I think I have ever read, to sum up..

        The people beuilding the Titanic were responsible for it sinking because it was driven stright into an iceberg.

        If Howson doesn’t play well it’s because he is marked out of the game. If he is good it is simply because he is brilliant and not because the opposition were not marking him.

        And finally tactics impact every player on the pitch Just as Becchio benefited yesterday so did Howson and Somma previously (when Becchio may not have).

      • TSS


        I do like how you twist my words into something they’re not Reaps, just because I refuse to join the Becchio is the best thing since sliced bread bandwagon.

        It wasn’t the passengers or captain that dubbed the Titanic the unsinkable ship. Was their an asterisk after that famous line, with small print at the bottom stating that the term unsinkable did not apply to iceberg collisions? What else did it not apply to… rough seas?

        Is Howson being marked out of the game not a reflection on his own performance? He should have been able to adapt and find space as far as I’m concerned. You’ve simply twisted what I said to try and make out I was blaming the tactics for Howson having a bad game, which is entirely untrue.

        Not entirely sure what you’re trying to get at with the last point, because it seems we agree. My problem with Becchio is that he wasn’t working as a lone striker, which no goals in six hours kinda proves. He had no shots in two games for christ sake! Becchio needs someone alongside him. Crossing balls into the box worked against Bristol, but the change caught them out to an extent. We’ve tried the same tactic against other teams and it’s failed miserably because they just piled players on Becchio and nullified the threat from the wings. A truly dire Bristol left-back helped too.

  10. Anthony Lewis

    Today proved how important he is for us. I cannot believe some people questioned him! He works his socks off for the team and he scores goals. Nice to win at home again and a good 3 points against a resurgent team. Plus we showed character to hit straight back after they equalised so quickly. We’re now sitting quite well in 5th with 0 goal difference! MOT!

  11. henry vincent lewis

    Excellent result!
    We are handily placed and have yet to hit top form.
    9 goals now for Lucciano!
    I’ll say no more!!

    • craig

      O’Brian is a steadying influence and looks very well controlled, Somma holds the ball up well but needed another striker to play alongside, nobody played poorly today, it is just a shame we were unable to keep a clean sheet, overall a good performance and an entertaining match.

  12. Bill

    Great win with Becchio and Howson the stand outs for me.

    Need to keep this back 4 together tho’ and that means some loan extensions and then a cheque or two. Talking of the cheque book Ken, that Luciano contract……..

  13. Colin

    very nice result – i did say that this was a good run of games, but now i think it gets tougher for the next few games. That said, one thing gets you up to the top in this league and it’s consistency and we haven’t had that for a while!!
    As for becchio, i think any striker coming off the bench is going to give that little bit extra and maybe somma took the knocks from the bristol defence that you get from min 1 and tired out the defence, so i think he played his part also.

  14. Colin

    i’m on holiday at the moment so the best coverage i could get was sky sports news in a pub. You can’t believe how gutted i was when the equaliser went in, but very happy when the other 2 went in.

    Clown David james was england’s no.1 a few months back – what a joke the england team is.

  15. Punter

    I dont see anyone else mentioning this but surely its not just me… Isn’t anyone else constantly frustrated by Somma continuously being called offside?? i dont think you could find another player in the whole footballing league who gets called more times per game than him! almost as frustrating as Johnson and his horrendous long range attempts (which i actually, thankfully, saw not one of finally today)

    • timm

      Yes,he’s caught offside far too often. It was ridiculous yesterday,& i think Grayson was annoyed by it too? In fact,i don’t know if anyone noticed but him being caught off for the umpteenth time coincided with SG calling Becchio back from warming up to get ready to come on.Somma needs to play in a 4-4-2. He’s still a great striker though.

  16. Des

    ha well i dont know where i stand as on this site i got knocked for discussing the way he plays and on another site i got accused of praising him too much and I said the same things as I said here.
    Well thats the way to do it Luci. Score goals
    Well done
    What a crazy season

    Are we going to sign him up? or wait till he scores a few more goals and will cost more.

  17. mikelufc

    Does this mean Larry is finally learning his trade?
    Or is it just another one off?
    Or was it nothing to do with him?
    A very big “well done” to Becchio though.

    I have noticed that too.

  18. trueyorxman

    How ironic on a day that some of the crew of the Ark Royal appear on the pitch at Elland Road an Argie sub comes on to sink the opposition!!

  19. paulg

    Somma took the knocks from the Bristol defence? Hardly ….. he gave them what must have been their easiest 60 minutes of the season!! He rarely challenged them – contrast the time when Howson attacked the centre half as he cleared, and we ended up winning a corner. If he’s going to play lone striker, Somma has to put in FAR more effort.

    Spot on about playing it on to Somma’s feet; on the few occasions we did that he looked a far better player. But we still have a tendency to hoof the ball forward too often …..

  20. Max.

    One thing the (excellent) report doesn’t mention is that, in between the substitution and the first goal, Bristol’s right back Carey (who I think is their captain) came off injured. This meant Sam was playing a different player to the one Gradel played, and it created some extra room for Becchio. ie it wasn’t just the Leeds change.

    I think Leeds are going to have to continue to play 4-5-1 for a while. the 4+5 makes up the fact that the squad still isn’t strong enough to support 4-4-2 defensively. For all the comments about O’Brien, who does look an improvement, the defence was very poor for the Bristol goal (McCartney lost his footing, but whoever was meant to be marking Stead should take a look at the video for the goal).

  21. henry vincent lewis

    TSS. Up to your old tricks again!!
    Nobody who admires Becchio claims he plays well every game.
    That would be silly!
    He gives 100% every game. Other team members take note.
    He never hides.
    Only he could have scored those 2 headed goals in our squad.
    He is the only player we have who can play with his back to goal, and quoting me and Eddie Gray after yesterdays game, he is the only one who can “hold the ball up and lay it off to a colleague.”
    You would have a goal drought with the service he gets most games.
    Humble pie is not on your menu TSS.

    • TSS

      That’s because it’s not about humble pie @henryv. I’ve always acknowledged when Becchio has had a good game, the problem is that whenever he has a bad game people can’t accept it and throw the teddy out. I’m just honest either way, and before Hull Becchio had played crap, Since then, he’s played well. It really is that black and white.

  22. White to the core

    Exactly why we cant afford to lose him in January or next summer. I think Becchio will improve the higher the standard of play becomes. I dont think generally 4-5-1 suits his strengths or Sommas for that matter, although after todays hat trick others will disagree. Sadly i think that tight fisted butt pirate Bates would rather invest his cash in elland rd village or new sails for his yacht the Bounty. Or to stash in his famously overspent “war chest”. I dont think Becchio is demanding ridiculous sums of money, just that Bates idea of a pay rise is pennies rather than pounds. Before the laser eyed twats fan club start wittering on about his status as an Elland Rd saviour and not harking back to the Ridsdale days, the sums being discussed are not comparable. Although im sure come whenever, that Becchio has to leave he will have been painted as a mercenary by the fraudulant twat in charge and his minnions. If Becchio goes im sure he wont be the last of our better players to go, theres a few with contracts looming. No wonder those scum fans view us as little more than a unambitious feeder club.

  23. Joey

    you cannot complain about the attack when becchio is a part of it 4 games 11 goals becchio up front on his own so shush.

  24. Joey

    larry changed it for more than half a game 0 goals, i dont think it was coincidence that wen becchio came on we scored 3, the shower of shit has pushed us up the table, and we wouldn’t have got 3points without him

  25. Jim Barnett

    Really pleased for Becchio…after nearly having his leg broken and cheekbone fractured in the past two weeks, he deserves his day in the sun.

  26. Colin

    I’m trying to put Leeds’ 5th place into a bit of perspective and try and figure out whether Leeds can actually realistically gain a playoff place by the end of the season.

    We started out with an injury crisis (11 potential first team players out) and complete inconsistency, which I expected from a 3rd division club just coming up. For me, the question was whether Leeds could get the best out of their better players and start gaining some consistency. And I thought it would be good if Grayson could get that by Jan 2011 – but it seems that he maybe just maybe has got it.

    Everyone umms and aarghs about individuals but the fact is that:
    – Schmeichel is a class act
    – Snodgrass and Howson are playing with a belief that they are better than any other player in the Championship
    – Becchio and Somma can score in this division, and we’ve yet to see what Paynter and McCormack can really do.

    As for the team:

    – we have strength in depth in midfield – Gradel, Sam, Johnson, Kilkenny
    – we have players being recognised by their international teams – Somma, Gradel and I can’t see it being too long before a Snodgrass Scotland call up

    But this is the biggest thing for me – we never knew how we would fare in the Championship, but it seems that we can hold our own. And most importantly, we’ve learned from our mistakes – we have some players who just aren’t up to the job and they are no longer in the team.

    Goalkeeper sorted.
    Midfield in great shape.
    A formation that works.
    The players who we thought could perform at the highest level are getting better and better all the time – Snodders, Howson etc.
    The captaincy is sorted.

    And we’ve identified our weaknesses – defence mainly. Connolly is looking solid and O’Brien can do a job for us.

    Bates is supportive of the manager and is willing to spend the cash as long as it makes improvements to the team and I expect investment in January.

    Conclusion: I would have happily taken 12th place in Jan 2011. Remember Sky Sports predicted we would finish 19th. But if we have all of our players fit, and we’re starting to get consistency, then our success relies on one thing – getting wins at home. If we can get that, then we’re in good shape, very good shape, for a playoff place.

    I didn’t expect it so soon, but 5 points away from 12th in November, is a very good place to be. I’m quietly confident.

  27. Paul South Wales

    Will probably get lambasted for this, but I totally agree with TSS. Sometimes Becchio does have bad games, and sometimes the the way the opposition play suits him. He does always give 100%, that can never be questioned, but sometimes there are other strikers who will do a better job. I for one didn’t think he would be very effective in this league, but i’m over the moon with what he’s done so far, and long may it last. He’s not prolific by any means (as JB was), but his hard work pays off in some games, and others perhaps not. TSS does laud him though if he’s done well, but some people can’t seem to accept that sometimes he isn’t as effective as someone else might be.

    • TheReaper08

      @Paul South Wales You won’t get lambasted, I think everyone understands that all players will have good and bad games, that’s not the point.

      The point for me is being consistent with constructive criticism of players. It’s also appreciating that sometimes the system and the result are bigger than individuals, and that an individual may be asked to sacrifice his personal ambitions for the greater good, say in a lone striker role.

  28. mikelufc

    Sounds like you agree all we really needs is a manager and we can be promoted!
    You know I make sense :-)

    • TheReaper08

      @mikelufc Perhaps someone who has a good track record of getting teams promoted, is a fan and loves the club…..

      • Colin

        @TheReaper08 that’s the one!!
        to be honest though – if a a manager can get Leeds United from div 3 to the Prem, then they know they instantly become a football managerial legend (not just a Leeds legend) and a household name. And if you get Leeds United to the PL, you can bet your bottom dollar, they will stay up – the fans want that, the players would want that and perhaps most importantly, this board and Chairman would do whatever (and I mean whatever) it takes to do that.

        And that manager makes himself a multi-millionaire overnight. Now why oh why did Grayson drop a league from managing Blackpool to manage Leeds United Football Club??

        If Grayson fails, then he’s a run of the mill manager, he gave it a go and all that. But if he does it, if he just does it…

  29. les irwin

    has anyone thought that we might just be starting to gel
    we had quite a few new players especially at the back and after all we did get promoted. is there anyone happy

  30. henry vincent lewis

    I’m happy Les!
    I have not enjoyed a season some much for years!
    Nil Desperandum!

  31. Bill

    Very happy here too as per the ‘enjoyment level’ thread on the forum page a couple of days ago and since then we’ve had that hat trick from Luciano!!

    Great line above on that particular subject from @trueyorxman too!!

  32. TSS

    Stop cursing it you fools.

    If we all start admitting that we’re enjoying things, it’ll be nothing but 0-0’s til May.

  33. Mike


    If fans could get a team promoted we would always be top of the pile,so there!

    and yes Les, I am happy too….. mostly :-)

  34. henry vincent lewis

    In the ‘Telegraph & Argus':-

    “Luciano Becchio wants to stay at Leeds United and is ready to sign a new contract.

    The Argentine striker’s current deal is due to expire in the summer and predators are starting to gather.

    Becchio has already been linked with moves to Stoke and Hull but he said after his first hat-trick for Leeds: “I want to stay here. I want to live here. My agent has spoken with Leeds and I am ready to sign a new contract.

    “Of course I see Leeds going into the Premier League and I want to be part of that. I would like to play with Leeds against Carlos Tevez.”

  35. Old Billy White

    Decent performance on Saturday. we looked a better side than Bristol, and deserved a win. Now up to 5th, in the event of the unthinkable, how many of this squad would survive in the Premier League?

  36. TSS

    @Old Billy White

    The only ones I reckon definitely would are Snoddy, Howson and Schmeichel. The likes of Somma and Sam could perhaps take the step up too, but it’s hard to call. I didn’t think Becchio would be any use in the CCC, but on current evidence, he might actually have a chance of progressing, so who knows?

  37. Old Billy White

    Not jumping any guns, just a question. For me a mid table finish was always going to be a very good acheivement, giving time to build for an assault the next level.


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