Leeds blunted by lowly Blades Tim Hodge March 21, 2011 Match reviews 9 Comments Leeds headed down to Bramall Lane with hopes of an easy three points. Sheffield United are stuck in a relegation fight and it was a chance to really push on in our attempts to cement a play-off place. In the end Leeds hardly turned up and may have been better off saving the petrol money for the sixty odd mile round trip to South Yorkshire as we went down 2-0 to the Blades. The opening stages didn’t really hint at what was to come with Max Gradel heading just wide from an Eric Lichaj cross when he really should have scored. Still, we miss plenty of chances but usually make up for them with plenty of goals. However, it wasn’t to be and soon enough the Whites were on the back foot and should have been one down when Bogdanovic was found unmarked (the nearest Leeds defender was in a different time zone) seven yards out but his finish lacked conviction and was smothered by Kasper Schmeichel. It seems a recurring theme this season that Schmeichel has been there to mop up after catastrophic defending and yet again we were lucky to escape. Again and again Kasper came to the rescue and was probably our best player, though the rest of the team left little to be desired. It was because of Schmeichel that we were able to hang on until half time and head in to regroup. The Blades kept up the pressure in the second half though and took the lead ten minutes in through an Eric Lichaj own goal. Quinn and Montgomery were allowed to wander through the Leeds defence without coming across anything resembling a tackle and it was Montgomery’s low cross along the goal mouth that was diverted in by Lichaj. To be fair to the young American, he was stretching for it and it would have been tapped in at the far post had he not got a touch. 1-0 down. After the early pressure in the first half, Larry had changed from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 pushing Gradel up front and Howson dropping out wide. Gradel was as energetic as usual if not really effective while Howson really was a spare part, having little impact. Being a goal down in a game we were expected to win comfortably, fans were looking to Grayson to make changes and after a while he did – a straight swap, Paynter on for Becchio. I’m pleased for Paynter getting his first Leeds goal in midweek but I still can’t understand how he’s pushed ahead of Somma in the pecking order. Micky Adams wasn’t afraid to make changes of his own and it was substitute Bjorn Helge Riise who, minutes after coming on, wandered into the penalty area and was able to drive his finish low through Schmeichel’s legs. It was Howson who let Riise wander away unmarked, compounding a miserable day for our captain. The second goal finished it and Grayson bringing on Somma and Watt for McCartney and Snodgrass was far too little far too late. Neither sub was able to make any real impact and it was a tall order to try and claw back from two goals down with just fifteen minutes remaining. It became evident it just wasn’t our day as a goal-line scrap saw both Gradel and Bromby attempt to stab the ball home but in the end it was cleared easily. Our miserably day was rounded off when Paynter was sent off right late on for an off the ball stamp. If you’re searching for a silver lining it may be that Somma should get a chance now Big Billy is suspended. The worrying thing about the defeat was that, not only did it mean successive games not scoring – very unusual for this season but, we were completely outplayed by the lowest scorers in the whole Football League, currently in a relegation battle while we are pushing for promotion. As well as this, the performance seemed to lack any really fight or desire and it’s a big concern if the players are unable to get up for a Yorkshire derby while pushing for promotion to the Premier League. As mentioned before Kasper was probably our best player but Barry Bannan also showed some promising glimpses. It may be that the players are pretty tired and couldn’t put in the sort of determined, dogged performance we saw earlier in the season away to Watford, where we ground out a 1-0. Let’s hope the international break serves as a good rest for the squad and they can bounce back against Forest in what is going to be a massive match in the promotion push for both teams.