Leeds’ transformers vanquish Boro Gary March 11, 2012 Leeds United, Match reviews 64 Comments Adam Clayton grows his hair a bit and becomes a lot more like Scott Parker. Darren O’Dea dons a bandage and becomes a lot like vintage Kisnorbo. Michael Brown sees Neil Warnock and remembers that he used to be Michael Brown. It’s a world of transformations and rediscoveries at Leeds right now. The agent of change has evidently been the rediscovery of back-to-front chasing, harrying and discomforting, via the Championship’s pass master at that old game. Solidity had returned in a way we haven’t seen in years before this fixture, and throwing the grizzled warrior Paul Robinson in for his debut didn’t exactly suggest we were about to get less hard to beat. So it proved. Every inch a ‘Warnock side’ from the first minute, played out to belting noise from an also-rejuvenated terrace choir, Leeds also managed to make light of panic in some quarters about whether we were ever going to score a goal again. Great work from Aiden White, clearly getting used to being a right-sided midfielder, set up Snodgrass to bang home the first, a powerful but straight right-footer past a frankly horrid attempt at goalkeeping. No-one was fooled that his right peg, that you’d be forgiven for thinking may someday wither away and die due to underuse, has transformed into the clichéd ‘wand’. The goal, though, was no less than Leeds’ play deserved in the opening exchanges, which had seen much threat but not quite a magical touch from the impressively position-revolving Becchio, McCormack and Snodgrass. Very little attempt should be made to fix whatever O’Dea has done to his head. After being flattened by Jutkiewicz, the man that allowed both Ipswich and Celtic fans to have a hearty laugh at my expense post-signing and has done little to let me have the last laugh since, transformed into the bandaged leader of a barricade that Boro barely had a sniff of smashing. In fairness, this may not be solely bandage-related: this transformation has been coming, as illustrated by our meagre concessions in recent games, but what looked on paper a testing afternoon was pretty much nulled. Emnes was kept quiet – a quick route to killing the entire team it seems – and without calling the fates out, we seem to have quickly lost the panic and Keystone Cops elements that have plagued all efforts at progress in the last three years. A gift from Justin Hoyte, via McCormack’s persistence, quickly provided the second and last goal of the match. It would be fair to say that in recent times, Ross may well have been tempted to take on the shot from a silly angle after breaking clear on the left of the area, but today it was all head-up, do the right thing. After that, it’s a cinch: Becchio stabs in an archetypal Becchio goal. Luciano may well have transformed back to the player he transformed out of when he cut his hair the first time, with first-rate hold up play, some nice touches and the goal, inevitably slightly dented by a few too many of those back-in-and-dive-unconvincingly moments he favours. But hey, Becchio is Becchio. Some things just don’t change. The second half saw Middlesbrough get a bit more motivated in their typically empty stadium, but other than a header into the side-netting, an uncharacteristically Rachubka-esque fumble by Lonergan in the 96th minute and a few probing escapades from their brilliantly-named and handy-looking sub Bartholomew Ogbeche, they didn’t look like bothering the boys in blue. The change in commitment at the club was epitomised by how Adam Hammill was dealt with, as compared to horror-shows in very recent history when he was a Barnsley player. Allowed the freedom of Yorkshire then, he was today denied a millimetre to work anything; his neutering typified by him shooting out for a throw mid-second half. Boro were reduced to ten when Barry Robson unsuccessfully tried about four times to elbow Adam ‘Scott Parker in his head’ Clayton in the face, but it didn’t really alter how doomed any hope of a comeback was. Leeds still had chances, albeit largely from range, and the full-press never let up. The fans seem convinced, with the most vociferous Only One Neil Warnock yet bellowing out towards to death. ‘Colin’ is well and truly winning the battle for some of the most suspicious hearts and minds in the business. Make no mistake – this was a pretty rudimentary victory against an apparent automatic promotion-chaser. The better side won, and Middlesbrough are flattering to deceive as much as they were when they were swarming with second-tier Brazilians. But hell, we’re Leeds, so we need something to worry about. Erm, well you can hold on to the threat that our Executives’ dithering with Redfearn for four games could see us fall agonisingly short again, even if this turn-about continues. But if you can keep the natural tendency towards doom at bay for a bit, it just might be worth keeping on believing.