|Leeds United 0 v 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers|
Monday, 17th April 2017 Kick-off 15:00
Match Report: Leeds United 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers - Parasitical Efficiency Trumps Woeful Whites
Monday, 17th Apr 2017 23:22 by @LucasMonk_
After securing a point at the death away to Newcastle on Good Friday, Leeds United today succumbed to an acrid defeat at the hands of 16th-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers, who emerged as victors courtesy of a solitary Nouha Dicko goal in the first-half.
Upon the blast of the full-time whistle in their last outing, the Leeds players roistered in having earned an invaluable point, while the supporters of their exasperated opponents trudged ruefully toward the exits, cursing the Whites under their breath.
On this occasion however, it would be United who would be subjected to a great many methods of frustration, as they were thwarted in front of over 30,000 expectant observers by a stern and obdurate Wolverhampton Wanderers outfit.
After a sprightly start on the part of the visitors, Paul Lambert’s charges established a merited advantage on 38 minutes, with French forward Nouha Dicko registering only his third Championship goal of the season. In spite of the hosts’ hegemony of the ball possession, conjure clear-cut opportunities they could not, mustering only two shots on target in the match’s entirety.
The result, coupled with victories for Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday, and Reading, see United fall into seventh position in the table, trailing sixth-placed Fulham by way of goal difference.
With a mere three matches of the season remaining, the focus of Garry Monk and his side must shift swiftly to Saturday’s excursion to the Pirelli Stadium, as the Whites do battle with newly-promoted Burton Albion, in only their second-ever visit to the home of the Brewers.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1) - Green; Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi (Taylor 63’); Bridcutt (Sacko 56’), Phillips; Roofe, Hernandez, Pedraza (Doukara 72’); Wood.
Unused Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, O’Kane, Dallas.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-2-3-1) - Lonergan; Coady, Williamson, Stearman, Doherty; Saiss, Edwards; Marshall (Hause 85’), Weimann, Saville (Lee Evans 68’); Dicko (Bodvarsson 68’).
Unused Substitutes: Burgoyne, Gibbs-White, Iorfa, Price.
It would be the Whites who began proceedings on an overcast afternoon, though the wolves of Wolverhampton would make much of the match’s early running. With 11 minutes elapsed, a sumptuous cross found George Saville at the back-post, but the midfielder, off-balance, could only glance a headed effort wide of the mark.
Five minutes would pass before the Austrian attacker Andreas Weimann, on loan at Molineux from divisional rivals Derby County, would spurn a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring. Pontus Jansson and Gaetano Berardi were irresponsibly responsible for an impetuous defensive error that allow the former Aston Villa forward a one-on-one opportunity with only United ‘keeper Rob Green to outwit - only for the veteran shot-stopper to deny him, by virtue of alert goalkeeping; promptly racing from his line to make an imperative block.
7 minutes later, and Berardi was once more caught napping in a manner almost predatory by Wolves’ Conor Coady, who regained possession for his side from the Swiss defender prior to being felled to the right of the hosts’ penalty area. From the consequential free-kick, another crucial save was elicited from Green, who reacted impeccably to palm away a venomous, volleyed effort from Dave Edwards.
With the majority of those present within the stands becoming ever more disenchanted on each occasion that United relinquished possession, the visitors continued to apply substantial pressure upon the home side. On 31 minutes, Nouha Dicko unleashed an audacious left-footed drive that fizzed narrowly wide of Green’s right-hand post, to allow the travelling contingent of Wolves supporters even more cause for sanguinity about their prospects of victory.
And that particular effort would serve as an ominous warning of what was yet to arise. Only a mere minute after Jansson headed an effort over the Wanderers crossbar following a corner in the 37th minute, the Swede was guilty of ceding possession in a precarious midfield position after embarking upon an ill-advised dribbling run. Ben Marshall, a January acquisition from relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers, proceeded to play an exquisite through ball into the path of the onrushing Dicko, who converted the chance, right-footed, with real aplomb at the first time of asking.
About that, the vastly experienced Green could do zilch. It was a consummate finish from the Frenchman, who rolled the ball into the bottom corner with a sharp degree of self-assurance for only his third goal of the season.
Before the half-time interval, two direct balls would be played in the direction of Chris Wood. One of them, the New Zealand international controlled, before striking a shot against a determined Wolves defender in what would be the half’s last noteworthy action.
HT - Leeds United 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers - Dicko 38’.
A tepid first-half performance, that was bereft of innovation and desire in equal measure.
Though Leeds did have a plausible appeal for a penalty repudiated when Kyle Bartley was forcefully thrust to the ground in the 33rd minute, the visitors wholly merited their advantage, with the hosts only spared further embarrassment thanks to the heroics of Rob Green between the posts.
With five minutes of second-half play elapsed, Wanderers’ much-maligned goalkeeper Andy Lonergan (who played for Leeds in the 2011-12 season), was almost once again the subject of derision after his clearance was blocked by a tireless Chris Wood. Fortunately for Lonergan, the ball would bobble harmlessly into touch.
Three minutes and a rising effort from Luke Ayling would follow, before another credible claim for a penalty on United’s part was waved away by referee Jeremy Simpson, despite central defender Richard Stearman appearing to have handballed a cross into the penalty area from Wood.
On the hour mark, Jansson would attempt and fail to atone for his earlier error. A well-taken corner by Pablo Hernandez was met at the far-post by the Swedish juggernaut, who could only power an emphatic effort into the South Stand.
Leeds would incessantly inundate their opponents with crosses, but on each occasion, the durable defensive blockade of the visitors would snuff out any potential danger in a manner akin to a cold breath upon a candle’s flame. United’s first attempt on target would arise in the 73rd minute, when substitute Souleymane Doukara connected with another Hernandez corner, only to see a formidable header saved with much vigour by a defiant Lonergan.
The introduction of Doukara appeared to instill, if only ephemerally, life into the home team. On 75 minutes, an energetic, vivacious run down the left followed his aforementioned header, before the Frenchman crossed for his compatriot and fellow substitute Hadi Sacko, who was incapable of making anything of the former’s contribution.
With the game’s conclusion fast approaching, United would spurn two glorious opportunities to score an equalizing goal. Firstly, a back-post header from the in-form Kemar Roofe was desperately hacked clear off the goalline, before Wood could only head a soaring, searching ball from Hernandez over the crossbar in the fourth minute of stoppage time, to the discontent of the now crestfallen home crowd.
Man Of The Match
Matthew Doherty (Wolves)
The showing of the 25 year-old Dublin-born full-back exemplified all the virtues of his side’s performance. Dogged, disciplined, and determined, with an unbridled desire to secure victory, the right-footed defender enjoyed an almost infallible match despite being played out of position.
Tackles Completed: 2
Defensive Aerial Duels Won: 5
Media: Leeds United head coach Garry Monk and Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Paul Lambert
Garry Monk, speaking to the BBC:
"We're disappointed with that result.
"We didn't want that to happen at this stage of the season but we've had the mentality for so long where we've been in the play-offs quite comfortably and have kind of been in that protective mode of trying to stay in there.
"Now we have to change that mentality to be a team that goes on the hunt and lets it all go.
"It's still a really good situation for us. We've got no time to feel sorry for ourselves, that doesn't get you anywhere."
Paul Lambert, also speaking to the BBC:
"We were excellent and should have been two or three up in the first half.
"We were strong defensively in the second half and a threat on the break."
Match Statistics and Facts
Stats - (Leeds/Wolves)
Possession - 67% / 33%
Pass Success - 74% / 51%
Aerial Success - 59% / 41%
Shots - 12 /11
On Target - 2 / 4
Tackles - 13 / 15
Fouls - 9 / 12
Corners - 10 / 5
Referee - Jeremy Simpson
Booked - Bartley, Bridcutt (Leeds). Saville, Dicko (Wolves).
Attendance - 32,351
Firstly and foremostly, Wolverhampton Wanderers were wholly deserving of their victory. They arrived at Elland Road, in my view, with a parasitical strategy - to leech the game of any life and to deprive the home supporters of any unadulterated joy - and they executed it impeccably. Their coherence and collective endeavour, coupled with their many acts of gamesmanship as they sought to exasperate, to infuriate, won them this match.
As had been at the time of the Griffin Park debacle, United delivered an insipid and impetuous display, one that will only serve as a catalyst for the purveying of melancholic defeatism among a vocal minority whom likely attend matches only sporadically, if at all.
A less than conciliatory perception that may be, but it is not my intention to only convey opinions that are agreeable to a majority. It is oft forgotten, perhaps in many cases without malicious intent, that Leeds United have considerably exceeded expectations in the present season. For us even to be in contention for a play-off berth come the campaign’s conclusion is intrinsically remarkable.
Today was an aberration, and to describe our performance today as such would be axiomatic and not in any way challengeable. But what we must all remember at this moment is that Garry Monk, and the coaching staff that he recruited, have through their own brilliance eked superlative performances from a playing squad many considered to be rife with mediocrity. It is an inevitability then, that on occasion, perfunctory performances such as today’s will arise.
There are three matches remaining, and with us only banished from the play-off positions on goal difference, there is still much to play for. On Saturday, we will encounter credible opposition in the form of Burton Albion, whose efforts on a stringent budget warrant much effusive praise. They are a workmanlike outfit who combine defensive discipline with a seemingly imperishable team spirit, but as Wolverhampton Wanderers were today, they remain a side of whom we are capable of defeating.
Will our play-off ambitions dissipate at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday? I trust not. But should they, I will refrain from berating our head coach, his colleagues, his players; our team, because they are the most consummate professionals to be contracted to this football club for a great many years.
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Photo: Action Images
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