|Leeds United v Barnsley|
Saturday, 22nd April 2017 Kick-off 15:00
Match Report: Burton Albion 2-1 Leeds United - The Buoyed Burton Vulgarians Carry The Day
Saturday, 22nd Apr 2017 23:22 by @LucasMonk_
Following a perfunctory performance on Monday at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, the play-off aspirations of Leeds United were today dealt a potentially devastating blow as Garry Monk’s charges were vanquished by Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium this afternoon.
As the sun beamed down upon the humble construction that is the Pirelli Stadium ahead of the game’s beginning, the players of both teams knew that there was much to be played for; a victory for the hosts would all but ensure their evasion of relegation, while the visitors required a win to keep their hopes of play-off qualification alive and kicking.
And it would be the upstarts from East Staffordshire who would carry the day, courtesy of a two-minute double salvo in the second-half. A sumptuous curling strike from the edge of the area on the part of Marvin Sordell in the 75th minute was promptly complimented by Burnley loanee Michael Kightly, who struck the ball into the bottom-right corner to score his fifth goal of the season, despite the endeavours of United ‘keeper Robert Green.
Leeds would mount a brisk response, with Kyle Bartley poking the ball home after latching onto Chris Wood’s flick-on, but the hosts would negotiate the game’s remainder in a manner facile, and to the doubtless relief of their supporters.
The result, in consequence, means that United must win their last two matches of the season whilst yearning for one of their rivals to implode, with the fate of the Whites now out of their hands after securing a derisory four points this month. For Burton, a merited victory all but corroborates survival, after Blackburn Rovers could only labour to a goalless draw with Wolves at Molineux.
In their next fixture, Leeds shall play host to Norwich City on matchday 45 next Saturday, with a sell-out crowd anticipated to be in attendance for the club’s final home fixture of the season.
Burton Albion (4-5-1) - Bywater; Brayford (McCrory 79’), McFadzean, Turner, Flanagan; Akins, Christensen, Mousinho, Irvine, Dyer (Kightly 65’); Sordell (Varney 85’).
Unused Substitutes: Campbell, Naylor, Palmer, O’Grady.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1) - Green; Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor; Phillips (Pedraza 66’), Vieira; Roofe, Hernandez, Doukara (Sacko 61’); Wood.
Unused Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, O’Kane, Dallas, Antonsson.
Prior to kick-off, both sets of supporters observed a minute’s silence in remembrance of the lives of both footballers Ugo Ehiogu and David McAdam, in addition to that of Burton student Hannah Blaydon, who was tragically murdered in a knife attack in Jerusalem only earlier this month.
It would be the visitors who would begin proceedings, with Pablo Hernandez setting the ball into motion on a resplendent afternoon, at least with regard to the state of the weather.
United made a sprightly start to the match, with a skilfully crafted move culminating in Hernandez firing narrowly over the crossbar from the verge of the penalty area with a mere four minutes elapsed.
Only moments later, and the visitors had appeared to have established an early advantage through the talismanic Chris Wood in the match’s 11th minute. A precise set-piece delivery from Hernandez was headed across goal by Kyle Bartley before Wood headed the ball into the back of the net, though the goal would be contentiously disallowed by referee Darren Bond, who considered Albion goalkeeper Stephen Bywater to have been impeded.
The game’s next noteworthy act was to come in the 32nd minute. Once more, Bartley would nod on a set-piece delivery on Hernandez’s part, this time to the far-post, only for defensive partner Luke Ayling to head agonisingly wide from an acute angle.
With only moments to pass until half-time, and the interval fast approaching, the final chance of the first period would fall to Kalvin Phillips. The ball had fallen to the feet of the midfielder, who could only leather an unbridled effort on the half-volley over the crossbar.
HT - Burton Albion 0-0 Leeds United
Prior to kick-off, a shared opinion among a great many observers was that this would be a closely-fought and highly competitive fixture. That was to be the theme of the first-half, with both sides working assiduously to open the scoring, but to no avail; a total of 11 shots were taken by both sides, with neither team mustering an effort on target.
As the visitors had begun the first period, it was the prerogative of the hosts to begin the second, now shooting toward their own supporters.
The first notable opportunity of second-half play arose with 64 minutes played. Visiting left-back Charlie Taylor crossed splendidly for Hernandez, though the Spaniard could only glance a feeble header wide of the mark.
Ten minutes would pass before Leeds would create another opportunity by way of a set-piece. Again, it would be Hernandez who would deliver, with Pontus Jansson emphatically connecting with the ball only to see his effort elude the back of the net.
A minute later, and Burton would establish a slender advantage, and though it could be plausibly argued that the opening goal came against the run of play, there can be no doubt that Marvin Sordell scored it in consummate style. It was a quintessential curling strike, one that evaded the grasp of Green between the posts and was guided into the net with almost surgical precision, after substitute Michael Kightly had diligently created a minute degree of space in which Sordell could operate.
The misery of United was only to be compounded in a mere matter of two minutes, as Kightly, who had so superbly paved the way for Sordell to open the scoring only moments earlier, raced through on goal before finishing into the bottom corner. That strike was Kightly’s fifth of the season, and one that now placed his side in a position of considerable vigour.
But shortly afterward, with Burton still ostensibly basking in the euphoria of their second goal, an exasperated Leeds promptly conjured up a response and in consequence halved the arrears. Though he’d been wrongly deprived of a goal himself in the first-half by way of egregious officiating, Chris Wood proved instrumental in heading across goal for Bartley to bundle the ball home from close proximity.
Bartley’s fifth goal of the season offered a glimmer of hope for Garry Monk’s charges, but after Kemar Roofe saw an effort hacked desperately off the goal line, former United striker Luke Varney (who had by now replaced Sordell as a substitute), could and should have increased the margin of his team’s lead with two minutes to play.
Having been played clear through on goal by Kightly, the 34 year-old was twice denied by Leeds ‘keeper Green as the Leicester-born forward failed to score his inaugural goal for the Brewers since his transfer switch to the Pirelli Stadium in January.
Man Of The Match
Michael Kightly, Winger
A nomadic winger of 31 years, the introduction of the Burnley loanee by his manager Nigel Clough in the second-half radically altered the complexion of the match. Kightly, whom the achievement of scoring a goal had eluded in the player’s last 46 appearances for Burnley before joining the Brewers in January, masterly assisted Marvin Sordell for the opener before netting his fifth goal of the campaign and his side’s second of the game..
Pass Success: 100%
Key Passes: 2
Media: Victorious Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough and a rueful United head coach Garry Monk
Nigel Clough, speaking to the BBC:
"With the other results around today it was imperative that we got something out of this one, either a draw or a win. To win the game with all the nervous tension around the place, especially in the last 10 minutes, speaks volumes for the character of the players.
"I am very pleased with our two goals. It's a lovely strike from Marvin Sordell. Once he gets turned he hits it with such power and accuracy it's difficult for the goalkeeper. Then you get the second so quickly and it would have knocked the stuffing out of most teams but Leeds came straight back at us.
"To be one point away, as it stands, we won't be celebrating or anything until we get that point, hopefully at Barnsley. The dressing room is euphoric right now but tinged with an element of disappointment that it is not done yet. We thought we might do it today but it hasn't worked out that way so we keep battling on."
Garry Monk, also speaking to the BBC:
"I think it is an extremely unfair result on my players to be honest. Second half there was only one team on the front foot. We started it extremely well and we were pushing and looking the most dangerous team.
"The goal came right against the run of play and it was a mistake from ourselves and they got the goal from it. From there we lost our composure a bit. I think it was the shock of them scoring when we were on the front foot.
"They got a second in that short period and we had to fight right to the end. We perhaps didn't have the right quality in certain situations today but we didn't deserve to lose that game."
Match Statistics and Facts
Stats - (Burton/Leeds)
Possession - 36% / 64%
Pass Success - 57% / 70%
Aerial Success - 51% / 49%
Shots - 11 / 10
On Target - 3 / 2
Tackles - 20 / 20
Fouls - 7 / 9
Corners - 6 / 8
Referee - Darren Bond
Booked - Kightly (Burton).
Attendance - 6,073
A thoroughly dispiriting defeat, and one that shall result in the attraction of opprobrium and ignominy in copious quantities.
While I cannot determine the exact reasoning for which Chris Wood’s goal was contentiously disallowed, I consider that we deserved zilch from this match. Into the hands of the Brewers (as they are colloquially known) we played, not relenting in sending umpteen impetuous long range lumps into their half.
It seemed to me that we were utterly bereft of a catalyst of creation; an instigator of sweeping attacks, executed expeditiously and ingeniously so as to take our opponents by surprise. I had, prior to kick-off in my preliminary preview, earmarked Pablo Hernandez as our potential saviour. How imprecise my judgement proved, as Burton firmly established a hegemony in the middle of the park with the Spaniard contributing zilch bar a scattering of set-piece deliveries. While we enjoyed substantial amounts of possession relative to Burton, we were prosaic and vacuous with the ball, and thus exuded mundanity.
Were Burton marginally fortuitous in securing victory? Perhaps so. But though we could all lament the incompetence of officials until our faces turn a sullen shade of blue, to do so would be a futile act. In lieu of determining that injudicious referees are the proximate cause of Leeds United defeats, we must come to infer that our performances this month have been of inadequacy.
To have emerged from fixtures against Brentford, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Burton Albion with a pitiful total of zero points is, simply put, a calamitous failure. While our season has confounded all expectations, our performances of late leave much to be desired, and offer little in the way of hope ahead of our remaining fixtures against Norwich and Wigan Athletic.
I now believe our prospects of play-off qualification to be meagre. But until a coveted play-off position is mathematically beyond our grasp, I’ve no doubt that the coaching staff and the players will give their utmost in our final matches of the season, and as supporters, it is incumbent on us to not cease in lending them our vociferous backing regardless of what is to come.
Photo: Action Images
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