|Leeds United 2 v 1 Swansea City|
Wednesday, 13th February 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Leeds back to winning ways against the Swans
Thursday, 14th Feb 2019 17:19 by Tim Whelan
In the end we made hard of work of it, but Leeds survived a late scare to pick up a deserved three points at home to Swansea City.
The evening began with a minute’s applause for the late Gordon Banks, with a few ‘Engerland’ chants to be heard above the sound of all the clapping. Which was obviously to wind up our Welsh visitors, but may not have been appropriate at that precise moment in time.
Marcello Bielsa made just the one change to the starting line-up from the draw at Middlesbrough four days earlier, keeping faith with Luke Ayling despite the concern about some of his recent performances. Jack Clarke is wisely off duty until the medical staff can work out what is wrong with him, so Hernandez took his place.
Leeds made a lively start, but didn’t create many clear cut chances early on, apart from long range shots from Roofe and Hernandez. That was until the 20th minute, when a corner was only cleared as far as Alioski on the edge of the box. It was blocked but fell kindly for the unmarked Jansson, who had plenty of time to guide it into the corner of the net and give Leeds a deserved lead. Cue for a strange celebration on the touchline in front of the South stand.
We continued to dominate possession, but Swansea started to wake up and had a good spell around the half hour mark. Daniel James was starting to look lively and might have been keen to show us what we missed, to the sound of the “he wants to be Leeds” chants coming from various parts of Elland Road.
Barry McKay played a very dangerous ball across the face of goal, with Casilla rooted to his line and looking a bit lost, but thankfully Van der Hoorn just failed to get the touch he needed to bring Swansea level. Instead, it was Leeds who got the next goal, with Harrison glancing an excellent cross from Alioski to guide the ball into the far corner and put us 2-0 up.
And we should have gone even further in front, when Klich crossed from the right and Bamford rose above the Swans defence, but could only head straight at Mulder. But we were still worthy of the two goal lead at half-time, and continued on the front foot after the break.
We went close again with an almightly goalmouth scramble, and we could have had a penalty when Bamford was manhandled to the floor. On one of the Leeds Facebook groups I’ve seen this described as a wrestling move, but I thought it was more of a judo throw myself. Roofe could also have won a pen later on, as a defender clipped his heel after the ball had gone.
At the other end Alioski tripped James for a free kick just outside the box. Alioski accused his prospective team-mate of diving (the words pot, kettle and black spring to mind) but the replay I saw later on Sky suggested it was indeed a foul. The free kick from Grimes took a deflection off the top of the wall, which was just enough to take it onto the post, with Casilla stuck on the other side of the goal.
And the Swans began to have a bit more of the game after making all their substitutions around the half-hour mark. James went off and of the newcomers Asoro looked lively down their right, and McBurnie was a bit of a threat in the centre, having started on the bench due to a recent illness.
Bielsa countered by taking Bamford off, when he seemed to be running out of puff after his recent return from injury. Roberts came on, and the second change saw Shackleton replacing Klich. Shackleton was soon involved, with a run through the centre and an excellent ball to send Roofe through on goal, and Roofe should have done better than to drag his shot wide of the far post.
Casilla had to make a couple of saves from the Swansea Roberts and from Grimes, but we still looked comfortable going into the final five minutes. That was until Ayling tripped Asoro on the edge of the box and the referee pointed to the spot. It was a needless foul, with Asoro going away from goal, and will only give further ammunition to those who think that on current form Ayling doesn’t deserve his place in the side.
McBurnie stepped up and calmly struck the ball into the corner while Casilla went the wrong way, and suddenly we were in for a nervous final few minutes. The Leeds-born player had endured a few boos even before stepping up to take the pen and made a ‘shush’ gesture to the crowd as he ran back for the restart, perhaps forgetting that we were still winning the game.
Dropping two points in this game would have done my head in when we’d been so dominant for so long. We had four minutes of injury time to survive, which was then extended to account for the final substitution in the 91st minute. Davis came on for Hernandez to shore things up at the back, and we had to defend deep, with a few desperate clearances.
But hold on we did, and the night finished with the bonus of going back to the top of the league, thanks to Norwich’s unexpected defeat at Preston. We’re still three only three points ahead of third place with an inferior goal difference, and no doubt have many more anxious times ahead before the end of the season, but after recent disappointments this was a much needed victory.
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