|Derby County 0 v 1 Leeds United|
Saturday, 11th May 2019 Kick-off 17:15
Leeds take a big stride towards play-off final
Sunday, 12th May 2019 10:29 by Tim Whelan
Sky are doing their best to label this game as ‘controversial’, but Leeds were well worth their victory over Derby County in the away leg of the play-off semi-final.
There was just one change to the starting line-up from the Ipswich game six days before, and that was enforced as Berardi came in for the injured Jansson. The bench had a distinctly youthful look, with Peacock-Farrell the oldest of them at 23, but as we know, our talented youngsters have mostly performed very well when called into first team action this season.
The home side started the game on the front foot, and there was an anxious moment when Nugent was put through inside the area, albeit from a narrow angle, but Berardi had chased back and was able to block the shot. At this stage I was worried that our poor form of the last four games was going to continue, but once we’d weathered the early storm, we were able to control the game for the rest of the first half.
It could be that we do well against Derby because they try to play good football, which creates space for us to get in behind them with our neat passing game. Hence the our excellent record against them despite the fact they finished sixth in the final table. We’ve struggled more against teams who work hard to close us down, so I’d been praying for Derby to be our opponents in the play-offs rather than Middlesbrough.
Dallas went close with a curling shot from distance, despite being handicapped by having to wait for the referee to get out of the way before he could get to the ball. On 23 minutes Forshaw pulled up with a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Shackleton, and once again the teenager produced a lively performance, so hopefully he will be in the starting line-up for the second leg.
Once again we were dominating possession, but I started to think that this would be yet another game when we would fail to make it count. Roofe proved that he’s far more mobile than Bamford up front, but tended to drift into wide areas, so there was no one in the box once he’d collected the ball.
It was a first half of plenty of endeavour from both sides, but very few good chances at either end. Yet all this was to change ten minutes after the break. Just as Derby seemed to be building a bit of pressure and getting the home crowd going, we won the ball inside our own half and the referee played a good advantage as it was played to Harrison down the left wing.
Harrison took it forward and then played the pass of the season once he’d seen Roofe breaking through at speed and getting clear of the covering defender. The ball took four defenders out of the game and curled into Roofe’s path so he didn’t even need to break stride. The striker had time to pick his spot and made no mistake, putting it past Roos into the far corner of the net.
And a minute later we could have been two in front, with the Derby defence seemingly in disarray. Roofe went past a defender on the edge of the box and curled his shot into the far corner, but this time Roos was able to get down and deny him with a fine save. Shortly afterwards we had another great chance when Shackleton went down the right and pulled it back for Hernandez, but the little Spaniard failed to make any decent connection with the ball.
Had we taken either of these chances the tie might be dead and buried already, but Derby were still battling, and the game was to get a little bit fractious in the time that remained. Hostilities began when Keogh clashed with Cooper at a free kick, and Keogh angrily suggested that Cooper had exaggerated the contact to try to win a penalty. It’s certainly not the done thing for tough central defenders.
There was an anxious moment when Malone sent a dangerous ball across the face of our goal, but no Derby player could get the touch they needed to turn it into the net. Then the real moment of controversy arrived, when Bogle and Harrison got close and personal in the area and the referee initially gave a penalty. Sky replayed the incident endlessly, and we still can’t be certain whether Harrison actually played the ball or whether he even made contact with Bogle at all.
The referee then noticed the linesman flagging and was surrounded by Leeds players as he went over to speak to him, while Keogh was again getting a bit mardy (as they say in those parts) as he tried to push his was in to have his say as well. The linesman persuaded the ref that Bogle had pulled Harrison’s shirt in the first place, so the final outcome was a free kick to Leeds. Well played that man!
Shackleton was denied by another fine save from Roos, before yet another contentious moment arrived in the closing stages. Klich tried to make space for one of his trademark long range shots, but the Derby defence were aware of the danger and made sure he couldn’t get a clear strike with his right foot. Have they been spying on us?
In the aftermath Klick ended up pushing his head into the chest of one of the Derby defenders, which led to the commentary team suggesting he was lucky to avoid a red card. But it certainly wasn’t a level of violence on par with the traditions of this fixture, Hunter v. Lee et al. Anyone who thinks that was a proper headbutt should be strapped into a chair and made to watch videos of late 60s/early 70s centre forward Wyn Davies. He was a man who knew how to deliver a headbutt.
The BBC website says that Klich “could have been sent off”, but completely forgot to mention the incident a few minutes later when Huddlestone treated Dallas to a distinctly unpleasant elbow in the face on the touchline after the ball had gone. Sorry, I must be getting paranoid about media bias against Leeds.
And there was another annoying incident when a Derby player hurled the ball at Dallas when he waited to take a throw in, so he had to protect himself rather than catch the ball. And yet the referee told Dallas off for wasting time! Five minutes injury time were added, but that was not long enough for any change to the scoreline.
But there was still time for the Derby players to complain to the referee after the final whistle, with a bit of pushing and shoving as the players left the field. Our win could have been more comprehensive, but we can be very happy to have arrested our slump in form with an away win, and to have beaten Derby for the third time this season. Job done?
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