Billy Sharp seals dramatic derby win over Huddersfield TSS February 1, 2015 Match reviews 12 Comments Neil Redfearn’s young Leeds United side continued their fine to start to 2015 with victory over Huddersfield Town in a dramatic encounter at the John Smith’s Stadium. The Whites took control of the tie early as Sam Byram added a goal to his impressive displays as right-winger for Leeds, cleverly flicking the ball over Town’s keeper to open the scoring. Leeds dominated the opening half hour but Marco Silverstri once again proved indecisive in-goal, failing to collect a cross he should have claimed with ease which then gifted the opposition an equaliser. The Whites looked like they’d be masters of their own downfall after the costly mistake gave Huddersfield the confidence to go on and dominate the rest of the first half, but Leeds held on and with the scores tied at the break, Redfearn’s side had chance to regroup. There was drama at the start of the second half as both sets of fans were left incensed by the referee’s poor performance. After handing out very soft yellow cards in the first half, one of Huddersfield’s players made a poor challenge which easily justified a yellow and Rudy Austin – also on a yellow – looked like he’d be seeing red moments later following a similar incident. But the referee, making the soft yellows he gave out in the first half look even more ridiculous (both these incidents were worse), chose to give neither of them a second booking. No one wants to see red cards settle a derby fixture, but referees can’t be so inconsistent and expect to retain control of a game. His decisions now seemed to be based on whether a player was already booked – zero tolerance, straight into the book if they aren’t on a yellow, no punishment and a free pass if they are. For what it’s worth, I don’t think any player should have seen red but if a referee books someone for something incredibly minor, then gives no punishment for a worse challenge, his inconsistency must be brought into question. Yellows result in bans too, they shouldn’t just be handed out so the referee can try to show who’s in charge. As much as I hate referees dominating match reports, those weren’t his only bad decisions unfortunately, he’d also deny Sam Byram an absolute stonewall penalty later in the game as he continued to get the big decisions very wrong. Sam Byram, man of the match for me, also saw his efforts to win the game thwarted by Mirco Antenucci who he teed up with a sitter of an opportunity inside the area, only to see the Italian make an absolute mess of what should have ranked among the easiest goals he’s scored all season. After seeing Sam Byram denied a clear penalty and Antenucci fluff a golden opportunity to win the match, it looked like it was going to be another one of those days for Leeds. To make matters worse, Lewis Cook picked up an injury (hopefully just a touch of cramp) and had to be replaced in the dying minutes. But Cook’s replacement proved to be an inspired choice. Mirco Antenucci, making amends for the sitter he missed earlier, delivered an excellent cross right into the danger area between keeper and the defensive line which substitute Billy Sharp threw himself at to level the tie with Leeds’ first headed goal of the season. Great scenes followed as Sharp dove into the 4000 travelling Leeds United fans behind the goal he’d just scored in, but as players and fans were celebrating the last minute winner, fourth game undefeated and first back-to-back wins since September, attention started to turn towards Huddersfield Town defender Tommy Smith, who’d just tried to prevent the goal and had remained down on the ground, not moving, ever since. Whether he’d collided with Billy Sharp or his own keeper is unclear, but there followed a long stoppage as medics came on to the pitch to assess the situation. As minutes ticked away and the stretcher was brought on, concern grew for the player’s condition. Smith would be carried from the pitch to applause from concerned fans on all four sides of the ground who’d later learn he’d been unconscious and was taken to hospital by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (more on them at the bottom) which landed on the pitch after the game had resumed and played out the final minutes of stoppage time. Tommy Smith spent the night at Leeds General before being discharged this morning. Huddersfield Town tweeted to say they’re still awaiting a final all-clear, but his release from hospital is positive news and I’m sure I can speak on behalf of all Leeds United fans in wishing him a full and speedy recovery. Ups and downs v Huddersfield Another important win for Leeds eases any fear of relegation and builds upon a much improved start to 2015. Once again, Redfearn’s young players shone throughout the fixture, particularly Sam Byram who proved our biggest attacking threat while never shirking his defensive responsibilities. Sol Bamba was a surprise inclusion after joining the club earlier in the week with very little first team football in the last 12 months, but he repaid the faith Neil Redfearn showed in him with an impressive debut at the heart of Leeds United’s defence. Marco Silvestri’s command of his area is an evermore troubling concern, there’s simply no excuse for him failing to collect the ball that led to Huddersfield’s equaliser, this is the absolute basics for goalkeepers. His shot-stopping remains excellent but I recall Massimo Cellino hyping Silvestri up and expressing his confusion at why Silvestri wasn’t a regular before joining Leeds and I think we can now see the difference between a chairman and a football scout – a scout would recognise there’s more to goalkeeping than shot-stopping. I don’t want to be too harsh on Silvestri because he does have genuine quality, but it’s now overshadowed by having zero command of his area and in terms of our defensive unit, he’s become the weakest link. He’s young and can definitely improve, but in the meantime, it may be worth giving Stuart Taylor a few games. Elsewhere, I’m staggered by how quickly Charlie Taylor has adapted to first team duties and made the left-back spot his own. Lewis Cook misplaced a couple of passes after breaking at pace, but he had another strong performance overall and I’m praying his injury isn’t too serious. Yorkshire Air Ambulance This being a football blog, I don’t usually do stuff like this, but in light of the scare with Tommy Smith, I’d like to draw attention to how important the Yorkshire Air Ambulance is. The area around Huddersfield’s ground is incredibly congested on matchday and would have made it very difficult for a normal ambulance to gain access. Without the air ambulance, the response time would have been much longer and while Tommy Smith looks to be OK, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance has responded to thousands of incidents, many of them life-threatening, providing fast and vital emergency response to the people of Yorkshire. And what many people won’t realise is that the Yorkshire Air Ambulance is a charity. It isn’t funded by the NHS, but by donations from the public. It costs £9990 each day to fund Yorkshire’s Air Ambulance and you can help by texting YAAC00 £2 to 70070 to donate just £2. If you’d like to make a larger donation or are looking for more information, please visit the Yorkshire Air Ambulance website by clicking here.