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Newcastle United 1 v 1 Leeds United
Barclays Premier League
Friday, 14th April 2017 Kick-off 19:45
Match Report: Newcastle 1-1 Leeds United - Whites Wholly Merit Wood Equaliser
Saturday, 15th Apr 2017 10:56 by @LucasMonk_

After reclaiming winning form in merciless and emphatic style at home to Preston North End last week, a goal from Chris Wood in the dying embers of an enthralling match at St James’ Park on Good Friday ensured that Leeds United remain in contention for a Championship play-off place - with a mere four matches remaining.


In spite of being forced to play on the periphery for large periods of the game, Leeds United confounded all pre-match expectations; by delivering a dogged defensive performance and exuding much fortitude to emerge from an austere and tempestuous encounter with an invaluable point.

The hosts, who were yearning for a victory after suffering defeat against Sheffield Wednesday in their last outing, had established a slender advantage in the 67th minute through Jamaal Lascelles. The former Nottingham Forest defender headed home after Alexander Mitrovic flicked the ball on following a precise cross from the right channel.

In lieu of relenting in their endeavour and allowing Newcastle to increase the margin of their advantage, an assiduous Leeds continued to defend stoutly in a manner most admirable, before seeing their efforts rewarded with a wholly merited equaliser at the death.

After being denied a 28th goal of the season in all competitions by an offside ruling last week, there was no fault on this occasion as an unmarked Chris Wood gleefully converted Kemar Roofe’s sumptuous ball from the left channel in the fifth minute of added time.

With Huddersfield, Fulham, and Sheffield Wednesday (three sides with whom Leeds are duelling for a play-off place) all securing victories prior to kick-off, the hard-earned point that the Whites have gained from this fixture is made even more precious.

Garry Monk’s charges now occupy fourth place in the Sky Bet Championship table, having amassed 73 points from 42 matches, with just four games remaining. United’s next encounter will see them host Wolverhampton Wanderers at Elland Road, in a 3:00pm kick-off on Easter Monday.

Team Lineups

Newcastle United (4-4-1-1) - Darlow; Anita, Lascelles, Mbemba, Dummett; Ritchie (Yedlin 84’), Shelvey, Hayden (Colback 79’), Gouffran; Perez (Diame 90’); Mitrovic.

Unused Substitutes: Elliot, Hanley, Atsu, Murphy.

Leeds United (4-2-3-1) - Green; Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi (Taylor 78’); Bridcutt (Doukara 76’), Phillips; Roofe, Hernandez, Pedraza (Sacko 61’); Wood.

Unused Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Vieira, O’Kane, Dallas.

First-Half

It was to be the hosts Newcastle who would begin play, with 52,000 supporters looking on and having clamoured to see two sides who are both pursuing promotion, albeit through slightly differing means.

A frenetic start to the match saw the heads of Pontus Jansson and Alexander Mitrovic collide in an aerial duel of much intrigue, before Alfonso Pedraza, right-footed, unleashed a venomous shot full of sheer power that rattled the aluminium of the crossbar before Karl Darlow expertly denied Kemar Roofe on the rebound.

Newcastle would have to wait until the 15th minute for their first opportunity to open the scoring. It arose when a header from Jamaal Lascelles took the visiting defence by surprise, though Matt Ritchie’s ensuing effort was blocked at the near post.

11 minutes passed with Newcastle having zilch to show for having inundated their opponents with umpteen crosses, before Jonjo Shelvey chanced his arm directly from a corner kick that was curling inwards to the near post, eliciting an astute piece of goalkeeping from Leeds ‘keeper Rob Green who pushed the ball away to safety.

A minute later, and the Magpies would threaten once more through Ritchie, who has been a talismanic figure for the Tyneside club since his arrival from Bournemouth in the summer of last year. From the right, the Scotland international shifted the ball onto his favoured left foot prior to conjuring up a swerving effort that dipped over the crossbar.

With ten minutes of regulation time to play before the half-time interval, Leeds would enjoy a spot of respite by launching a swift counterattack that culminated in Pedraza driving a drilled left-footed effort marginally wide of the post.

In the 41st minute, it would be the turn of the hosts to hit the woodwork as Pablo Hernandez relinquished possession in a precarious position, before Yoan Gouffran’s right-footed effort connected with the post with Green beaten.

From the consequential corner, Chancel Mbemba met the ball emphatically only for Green to muster up a piece of goalkeeping brilliance to divert the defender’s fierce header over the bar.

That would prove to be the final noteworthy action of the half, with Leeds having frustrated their hosts as the sides went in level at the interval.

HT - Newcastle 0-0 Leeds United

Second-Half

As their hosts had begun the first period, it was the right of Leeds to begin the second, but it would be Newcastle who would make a sprightly start to the half. With little over two minutes the second-half elapsed, Kyle Bartley was called into action to turn a threatening ball behind with an imperative sliding block.

A minute passed before the Magpies were awarded a free-kick on the verge of the visitors’ penalty area. Up stepped Ritchie, left-footed, with Green making another pivotal save to his right to push the curling effort behind.

In the 64th minute, Luke Ayling’s feeble header toward his own goal was almost seized upon by Mitrovic, only for Pontus Jansson to reach the ball before the Serbian and head clear the danger for yet another Newcastle corner.

From the ensuing set-piece, the hosts would establish a slender advantage. Though the initial delivery was cleared, the ball was soon crossed into United’s penalty area from the right channel, with Mitrovic flicking the ball on for Lascelles whose header crept over the line, in spite of Green’s efforts.

If not for the unflappable resolve of Jansson, Rafa Benitez’s men would surely have increased the margin of their advantage in the 73rd minute - the Swede making yet another block of crucial importance to divert an effort from Ritchie behind for a corner.

One minute later, and another fine save was drawn from Leeds ‘keeper Green, with the former England international keeping out an effort from Ayoze Perez at close proximity.

Newcastle did not relent in their application of attacking pressure until the match entered its dying embers, at which they began to needlessly, in a manner that could only be described as petulant, sought to run down the clock by way of contemptible gamesmanship.

But there was yet to be a sting in the tail for the hosts. With time ebbing away as the game neared its conclusion, the visitors would confound each and every onlooking observer by surging forward to score an equaliser in the fifth minute of added time. Hernandez evaded the desperate challenge of a Newcastle’s Mitrovic, before demonstrating his excellence by finding Roofe on the left, who promptly shifted the ball onto his favoured right foot prior to finding an unmarked Chris Wood with a sumptuous delivery. The New Zealand international was to make no mistake, scoring his 28th goal of what has been the most prolific and bounteous season of his playing career.

That would be the game’s last act of note, and the emotions upon the blast of the full-tiime whistle could not have been more markedly different - jubilation for Leeds, and exasperation for Newcastle who, for every cross and corner, could only labour to a draw, much to the disappointment of their expectant supporters.

FT - Newcastle 1-1 Leeds United - Lascelles 67’, Wood 90+5’.

Man Of The Match

Rob Green

The Chertsey-born goalkeeper of 37 years arrived at Elland Road in July 2016, with a vast wealth of experience to his credit, having played over 200 matches for both Norwich City and West Ham United. In recent seasons, Leeds United have been bereft of competence between the sticks, but Green once again proved that his signing was a considerable furtherance, making several saves of paramount importance to ensure that the lead of Newcastle remained assailable until the game’s final moments.

Media: Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez and Leeds United head coach Garry Monk

Rafa Benitez, speaking to the BBC:

"I am pleased with the performance of the team, the commitment, the passion, the effort but I am disappointed because we make a mistake at the end - at the end, I mean 95 minutes.

"I don't understand a lot of things from the last few games but we have to be proud of the effort.

"We have to keep winning our games and that's it. The priority is to go up and we have to win games if we want to do that."

Garry Monk, also speaking to the BBC:

"We showed what a spirit we have, the determination not to give up until the end and that is what brought the goal.

"We got the point that we are happy with, but I am really proud of the players - they never gave up.

"What an amazing mentality they have created. We have played better but you need both. You need the mentality, the spirit but also the quality and we were able to show that quality in that single moment, which was important and sometimes that is all it takes."

Match Statistics and Facts

Stats - (Newcastle/Leeds)

Possession - 56% / 44%

Pass Success - 74% / 67%

Aerial Success - 61% / 39%

Shots - 22 / 4

On Target - 4 / 2

Tackles - 15 / 21

Fouls - 7 / 16

Corners - 19 / 0

Referee - Chris Kavanagh

Booked - Shelvey, Colback (Newcastle). Bartley, Jansson, Phillips (Leeds).

Attendance - 52,301

Writer’s Verdict

A remarkable effort to attain an invaluable point. We approached this match as supporters in the knowledge that for much of the game, it would be necessary for us to play on the periphery and that a significant contribution from the players toward the game’s defensive aspects would be required, if we were to procure anything from what was an austere fixture.

For all of their crosses and corners, Newcastle were unable to increase their advantage once they had taken the lead through Lascelles’ header, and one could correctly attribute this to United’s stout defending and collective mental equilibrium. At no point did the players become perturbed by the raucous atmosphere that the Magpies’ opener generated, and I am of the opinion that, with all of this taken into careful consideration, we merited our goal.

It is most pleasing to see that Kemar Roofe’s performances of late have reached a new zenith, and the fortitude shown by the team in their entirety last night is cause for sanguinity ahead of Monday’s visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers, as we continue to pursue a play-off berth.

Photo: Action Images



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TimWhelan added 22:31 - Apr 15
Hilarious to see Rafa moaning about the amount of time added on at the end. It might have been something to do with their timewasting and the slightly large chap who invaded the pitch in the second half.
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