|Barnsley 0 v 2 Leeds United|
Sunday, 15th September 2019 Kick-off 12:30
Leeds finally break through to beat spirited Barnsley
Monday, 16th Sep 2019 14:01 by Tim Whelan
This looked like being yet another of those games when we would batter the opposition but not score, but two late goals secured a win over Barnsley.
Marcello Bielsa made just the one change to the starting lineup, and that was enforced, with an injury Forshaw meaning that Shackleton was brought in as a replacement. Forshaw was not expected to be out for long. We persisted with two makeshift fullbacks in Alioski and Dallas, preferred to the two specialists in those positions (Douglas and Berardi) who had to make do with places on the bench.
Barnsley took the field with three of our cast-offs in the shape of Mowatt, Halme and Wilks. I’d have liked us to have kept the latter two this summer, as I thought they were among the most promising of our youngsters, but apparently we needed to reduce the wage bill to meet the requirements of FFP. Wilks in particular seemed very keen to make us regret his departure.
There was quite a lively start to the game, with Barnsley looking keen to close us down and stop our natural passing game, a tactic we’ve had a bit of trouble with in the Bielsa era. But we soon started to get into our stride and dominate possession, so inevitably the chances started to come. The first came when a careless header from Halme allowed Shackleton to play Bamford in, but his shot from a narrow angle was well saved by Collins.
We had a couple of anxious moments at the other end when Casilla had to make a couple of fine saves from Wilks and Thomas, but as we approached half time we were still created the better opportunities. Hernandez really should have scored when a fine move set him up on the edge of the box, but he could only send it over the bar.
Wilks created another Barnsley opportunity with a dangerous ball across the face of goal, but we had the final chance of the half when Harrison hit the post when the ball came through to him from a corner. And that was Harrison’s final contribution, as he had been so anonymous for much of the half I’d forgotten he was playing, it was no surprise he was replaced by Costa at the break.
With Costa’s introduction Leeds seemed to pose a greater threat, though he doesn’t seem to be quite so effective playing on the left. He seemed to have produced a breakthrough in the 50th minute when Bamford steered his cross into the net, but the flag had been raised for offside, and Costa had been the offending player rather than Bamford.
Chances kept coming at both ends, with Casilla tipping a Brown shot over the bar, and was also called into action to keep out a long range shot from Woodrow. And a couple more chances fell Bamfords way, but he failed to get a decent connection with one and then put a header wide. He’d been unlucky with the disallowed goal, but we started to hear a few chants of “Eddie, Eddie” from his critics amongst the Leeds following.
As Bamford’s frustration grew he got involved in a spat with Halme. The two former colleagues had been paying each other close attention all afternoon, and things got a bit heated after an incident near the corner flag, though somehow it all got resolved without either player even getting a caution. And a few minutes later we were reminded of Halme’s attacking threat at set pieces.
When we learned of his departure in the summer, one fan predicted on social media that he was bound to score against us sooner or later. And this nearly came to pass when he was allowed a free header in our box, but could only send it onto the post via a deflection off one of his team-mates. The flag was raised, but might not have been had Halme’s header gone straight in.
It looked like being yet another game when we would fail to take any of our many chances, so with 20 minutes left Bielsa decided to send Nketiah into the fray to give us a bit more of a cutting edge. Bamford seemed furious to be substituted, but it was the right decision if Bielsa wasn’t going to switch to playing two up front.
And with six minutes of normal time remaining it worked, as Phillips curled a free kick into the box and Eddie evaded the defence to steer the ball into the net. That was the cue for bit of bother to break out in two parts of the ground. In the East Stand a few Leeds fans couldn’t contain their delight among the home support, while the official Leeds support were allegedly goaded by one of the stewards, who had to be led away by one of his colleagues.
And the points were secured as we went into injury time, as Eddie raced onto a through ball and outpaced Halme, whose wild swing in the general direction of the ball but found Eddie’s leg had got there first. It seems that Klich is now our penalty taker after several others have missed in recent times, and he calmly stepped up and rolled the ball into the corner while Collins dived the other way.
Berardi was a very late substitute for Klich in as a token timewasting gesture, but we managed to see out the rest of the game with no further alarms. It was a much-needed win to get things back on track after last week’s defeat by Swansea, and was enough to take us back to the top of the table after the Swans suffered a home defeat of their own on Saturday.
All very welcome, but I would have had Costa and Eddie playing from the start, rather than introducing them as subs part way through the game. Will Bielsa have similar thoughts before the Derby game?
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