Winning run continues with victory at Blackburn
Sunday, 13th Mar 2016 22:19 by Tim Whelan
Leeds produced another impressive away performance to win at Blackburn Rovers, and Antenucci has now scored his four goals in the last three games. If only we could get results like this at home.
Once again there was an impressive turnout of Leeds fans for this fixture despite the early kick-off. A total of 3,344 according to the official site, though with little to play for we didn’t match the record 6,000 plus we took to the same fixture last season. After last year’s disturbance, it was a surprise that the ‘Postal Order’ was not only open but continuing to admit Leeds fans, though there were plenty of police vans parked outside in case things got out of hand.
Inside Ewood Park we took up the whole of the lower tier of the Darwen end, and the crowd looked a bit sparse in the three home stands, though there was the usual boy’s pen in the two corners nearest to us, the tracksuited teenagers who spent much of their time waving at us rather than watching the game.
Steve Evans made just one change from Tuesday night’s win at Cardiff, with Diaguorara coming back in place of Murphy. This meant we again had a narrow formation with four central midfields, and strangely we also had three wingers on the bench. Presumably with this line-up Evans is relying on the two full-backs to push forward and give us a bit of width.
The opening stages of the game were a bit cagey, with the two sides closing each other down quickly, and any attempts at playing decent football weren’t helped by the poor state of the Ewood Park pitch. There were few decent chances for either side, but we went close with a free kick which Mowatt chipped over the wall and Steele just managed to reach and tip round the post one-handed.
But then Blackburn began a good spell, with Watt going close with a couple of headers as Silvestri dithered. And the Italian worried me again on the half hour mark as he spilled a shot from Graham, but thankfully Taylor got to the loose ball just ahead of Watt, to knock the ball clear. From my seat towards the left of the Leeds end I got a good view of the excellent job Taylor was doing on Bennett, blocking every attempt at a cross from the Rovers man.
Leeds weathered the storm, and managed to take the lead in the 34th minute, slightly against the run of play. Mowatt’s inswinging corner eluded everyone until it was met by Bamba, who was allowed to run in unchallenged to knock it into the roof of the net. That was the cue for smoke bombs to be thrown onto the pitch, one yellow and one blue, but we didn’t managed the white one that would have given us a full set of Leeds colours.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Rovers, and Leeds ended the half well in control. That obviously upset the small group of wannabe hooligans to our left, and after a bit of a disturbance one of them was led away by the police. I thought that was a bit harsh just for doing a bit of gesturing to the Leeds fans, but he did look like a smackhead, so perhaps they wanted to search him for illegal substances.
The second half saw much of the same, with Rovers having slightly more of the possession though Leeds continued to look dangerous on the break. Antenucci wasted one good move with a tame finish, but would do a lot better in the 69th minute.
As Leeds broke out following a corner, Mowatt played an excellent through ball through to set Antenucci free on the left. Just when I thought he’d taken it too far and should have crossed to Doukara, he managed to chip Steele from a tight angle, and the ball squeezed inside the far post.
Steve Evans made his first change after 74 minutes, with Dallas came on for Mowatt, which at last gave us a bit of width, but by then all we really needed to do was keep things tight at the back. The second change saw a welcome return for Chris Wood, in place of Doukara, though he seemed to get out-muscled a bit too easily by the Blackburn defence.
Blackburn continued to put us under pressure and forced a lot of corners, though by the 89th minute we seemed to be coping quite well, and hundreds of Rovers fans were heading for the exits. But when yet another corner was only partially cleared it came back to Jackson, who acrobatically knocked a high ball into the net and set up a tense finish.
The board went up for an extra six minutes, which seemed about right after a couple of injury stoppages, and that was extended further when Silvestri needed treatment after being barged in the back as he collected a cross. As we moved into the eighth minute of stoppage time Steve Evans was furiously pointing to his watch on the touchline, and seemed on the verge of invading the pitch to demand the final whistle.
But Keith Stroud finally brought the game to an end, and the Leeds following could stream happily out of the ground, some chanting “Leeds are going up!”. That seems a bit of an exaggeration, seeing as Wednesday’s win later in the day ensured that the gap below the play-offs remains at eleven points, so surely it’s too late.
But dare we begin to hope that this run has set us up for a promotion challenge next season?
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