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Marsch feels Leeds should have beaten Southampton
Sunday, 3rd Apr 2022 23:28 by Tim Whelan

At half-time it looked likely that Leeds would go on to claim a vital three points, but the excellent free kick from Ward-Prowse seemed to knock the stuffing out of us, and from then on a draw looked the most likely result.

But in the post-match press conference Jesse Marsch thought his side had done enough to deserve to win the game. “I'd say it was an intensive game with a lot of second balls and duels and one that we should've won. We knew it was going to be like this. We knew it was going to be an intensive match, we knew it would be tight”.

"What makes it difficult with Southampton is anytime they get in our half of the pitch, they start throwing balls into the box and Ward-Prowse has an incredible service, then you're feeling the pressure in those moments. But for the most part, I thought we stood up to those moments pretty well”.

“The foul that leads to what I call a penalty, because Ward-Prowse is so effective from these, it's like a percentage of a penalty. So we knew that that was going to be important not to give fouls away and then we had to defend that well. He put it right in the corner like we were worried he might.”

As ever Leeds made a lively start to the game and Llorente and Klich both went close before Harrison had a goal disallowed. Rodrigo had come back from an offside position just before the ball fell to Harrison, but in the 29th minute the winger really did put Leeds in front.

Raphinha just kept the ball in play on the byline before getting his cross in, and we give thanks for the rule that says the whole of the ball has to be over the whole of the line. Forster got a hand to the ball but didn’t get it clear, and was left flat-footed when the ball came off Harrison’s shin and bobbled into the corner of the net.

Shortly afterwards the Saints were close to a quick equaliser when Che Adams produced a neat turn in the box and a shot that forced Meslier into a smart one-handed save, but at the break Leeds were looking good value for the lead. However, this was all to change only four minutes into the second half.

The trouble began with a fine run down the Southampton left by Walker-Peters, which was ended by a foul from Ayling as he seemed likely to dribble through a crowd of defenders just outside the box. Unfortunately, that is prime Ward-Prowse territory, and England’s finest free kick specialist duly got the ball over the wall and dipping under the bar to get Southampton level.

I thought that Meslier should have been standing in the centre of the goal rather than over to the left. He was depending on the wall to cover the right side of the goal, but against a free kick taker of Ward-Prouse’s quality you can’t rely on that. As it was he got his fingertips to the ball, so if his starting point had been a yard or so to the right he could have made the save.

That seemed to deflate the atmosphere in the stands, and the team found it difficult to pick up the momentum again, even with the introduction of the lively Gelhardt in place of James. He was involved in our brighter moment of the closing stages, starting a move which ended with Dallas forcing Forster into a closing stages, and then having a shout for a penalty when he seemed to have been brought down.

But neither the ref or the VAR man saw fit to award a spot kick, and after Southampton had a couple of chances of their own, we had to make do with a point. Reasons to be cheerful? There was the return of captain Cooper who looked solid throughout, and Kalvin Phillips getting back on the field for the last 25 minutes.

Though Phillips didn’t have much of an impact it’s a sign he is getting back to fitness, and we can but hope he be back to something like his best for the run-in. Unfortunately the news on Bamford is not so positive, and he is likely to miss the rest of the season. So how does the head coach think we’re progressing as we move into squeaky bum time?

“I feel like the clarity of tactically what we wanted the game to look like, I thought we were balanced in the match didn't give much away. We’re still just trying to turn some of our advantages into real chances and then some of our real chances into more goals, so I'm not worried about that because I know we have quality and I know with this style of play that we will always be able to create chances.

“But, you know if we could just slow ourselves down and find a way to make the last pass or make the last action a little bit cleaner or crisper, then we would have more goals. So we'll keep working on it but I feel like yeah, this was a step in the right direction.” But was this a point gained or two dropped?

I can’t help thinking it was a game we needed to win against an out-of-form side, as on paper it looked like one of the easier of the last eight fixtures. Yes, we pulled a point further away from Watford and Burnley, but we didn’t expect them to pick up points anyway against the top two teams in the country.

It was more satisfying to see Everton lose today, though in parts their performance was an improvement on what had gone before. After Newcastle’s defeat today you might think they’re dropping back into trouble, though Brentford’s big win at Chelsea has probably taken them out of the equation.

It’s still a worry that just about everyone has games in hand on us, and we need at least a point from next Saturday’s crucial game at Watford. But I reckon that between now and the end of the season we’re just about going to do enough to get ourselves to safety.


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