Bristol blown off course by storm Saiz
Sunday, 22nd Oct 2017 11:21 by Tim Whelan
Where did that come from? In just the sort of fixture we’ve found a struggle in recent weeks, Leeds produced a superb performance to overcome Bristol City and stop the rot.
The dismal run over the last few weeks have cause a few to doubt whether Thomas Christiansen was really the man for the job, whether his style was too predictable, and whether we’d only gone top of the league due to an easy run of games at the start of the season. But you can certainly say that he’s not afraid to make the big decisions when the situation demands it.
Having changed the goalkeeper the previous week, Christiansen followed up by dropping our self-appointed talisman, Pontus Jansson. Perhaps this was in response to Jansson’s outburst on Twitter, when the man himself said his form had been “absolute ****”. If anything another change was even more significant, as responded to popular demand by giving Vieira a rare start, and he also recalled Alioski.
Perhaps we needed a moment of good fortune to turn things around, and that came after only four minutes, when a clearance was whacked straight into Phillips and fell nicely into Lasogga’s path. The German took the ball past a couple of defenders before backheeling to Saiz, and his shot took a deflection to spin away from Fielding into the far corner.
Perhaps the first goal in this game was always going to be the most important one, and you could see the confidence oozing back into this Leeds side, even away from home against a team above us in the table. Vieira’s was making a huge difference by giving the central midfield a physical presence, and allowing Saiz and Alioski to get forward.
Our dominance was rewarded with the second goal in the 14th minute. An excellent through ball from O’Kane put Alioski though in a dangerous position, and although Fielding came off his line quickly to block the shot, his intervention only sent the ball back as far as the onrushing Saiz, who made no mistake in blasting the ball into the net.
The official figure for the number of Leeds fans present was 3,717, but that figure probably excludes a few who got thrown out of the stand to our left after celebrating the second goal. Evidently the victims of an unprovoked assault by the locals, but if I’d had to resort to buying a home ticket at Ashton Gate I’d have chosen a less volatile part of the stadium.
We continued to control the game for the rest of the half, playing with a lot of intensity and looking to get forward quickly. Which made a welcome change from the slow build-up from the back that sent us to sleep against Reading, with Christiansen perhaps realising that the continental fannying around doesn’t suit when we’re playing with an English goalkeeper.
The new-look defence was looking solid, and Brizzle’s only decent moment of the half was a header from Reid that went just wide. At the other end Lasogga tried a couple of shots from range, but without quite mustering the power that was going to cause Fielding any difficulty. I started to wonder if the home side would get a telling off from their manager during the break and emerge all fired up, but the game continued in much the same vein in the second half.
By now storm Brian had started, with the wind getting up and rain lashing down, much to our advantage as Reid slipped in our box when he could have had a decent chance. He can blame the City groundsman for watering the pitch before the start, even though bad weather had been forecast.
Hegler headed just over from a free kick, and I was thinking we might need a third goal to kill the game off. That nearly came when an excellent move involving Lasogga and Vieira led to a great ball across to an unmarked Saiz, but he couldn’t quite stretch far enough to get the touch needed to send the ball into the net. I thought he might have been offside, but later the TV replay would show me that he wasn’t.
Then a Fielding shot from a Phillips shot rebounded to Lasogga, but his shot was brilliantly cleared by a defender who had raced back to put his body in the way. But finally we did manage to extend our lead to 3-0 in the 67th minute, when Lasogga got in front of the defence to head the ball over a crowd of players and into the net. Just when we were thinking he wasn’t that good in the air.
This caused huge numbers of home fans to head for the exits, and an exchange of unpleasantries while we mocked them for leaving with so much of the game still to play. Some of the retards in the stand to our left stayed only to make gestures to us rather than watch the match, with one gentleman in particular obviously having no idea just how silly he looked.
And things got a little heated on the field with a good-old fashioned set-to with ten minutes remaining. Taylor was tripped by Berardi (but not “scythed down” as the Bristol manager would later claim) and our man moved his head forward as Taylor rushed over to confront him. I thought Taylor had just dived on the floor after running into Berardi, but it seems it was a proper headbutt after all.
Players ran from all directions to get involved, and inevitably Berardi was sent off, with the mood of confrontation spreading to the two benches, as the two sets of coaching staff having words as he was led away. But just when I thought we’d have a man fewer for the rest of the game, Taylor was also sent off for his part in the incident, which no doubt will be the subject of an appeal from Bristol City.
As time ran out Christiansen made a few changes. Alioski had taken a knock earlier in the game and was replaced by Sacko, while the defence was bolstered by Anita coming on for Saiz. Finally Grot came on for Lassoga for one of those time-wasting changes as the game moved into injury time.
We manged to protect our lead without too much difficulty, though Bristol should have pulled one back when a cross found Diedhiou unmarked, but his header went virtually sideways rather than forwards, and ended up well wide. A moment which probably summed up Bristol City’s afternoon. And after five minutes of injury time the final whistle finally put Bristol City out of their misery.
So ended a great performance in a game when many of us feared the worst, and the win took back above Bristol City and back into fourth place. Our bad run has left us four points short of the automatic promotion places, but hopefully Christiansen has finally found the formation and the side which will take us forward, and we can kick on from here.
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Photo: Action Images
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