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Match Report: Leeds United 2-3 Fulham - Cottagers fly and cast the die
Monday, 24th Oct 2022 12:21 by Lumo Michalik

Leeds are now winless in eight and in the bottom three and Jesse Marsch is a dead man walking.

Newly-promoted Fulham came from behind to claim a deserved win at Elland Road and heap pressure on Jesse Marsch. Rodrigo’s close-range header after 20 minutes gave Leeds the advantage but Aleksandr Mitrovic equalised six minutes later and Bobby Decordova-Reid and Willian completed the turnaround in the second half.

Before kick-off speculation as to Marsch’s future swirled on a gloomy afternoon in West Yorkshire. He needed a convincing win and thought sticking Sam Greenwood in midfield would help him to one. When it failed to he looked incredulous. He stood with an expression of bewilderment etched on his face as the crowd filled the latter stages with chants against him and the board. A chorus of boos greeted the final whistle.

Marc Roca had to clear off the line to deny Harrison Reed an early opener but Leeds otherwise made a sprightly enough start. The crowd took heart from it and roared them on and rejoiced when Rodrigo nodded home after Jack Harrison’s deflected shot leapt into the air. It seemed for a brief spell that United would end their barren run.

Instead Fulham, composed and confident and cultured, came straight back into the contest. Luke Ayling lost Mitrovic at a corner and the Serb continued his red-hot form and headed the ball home.

Thereafter there was only one team who looked like winning the game. Fulham countered at speed from a Leeds free kick and Andreas Pereira raced through on goal and drew a crucial save from Illan Meslier as Reed had earlier done Roca.

In the second half Patrick Bamford missed a fantastic chance to score his 100th career league goal but Leeds struggled to create much else. Fulham continued to knock the ball around with a swagger and finesse opportunities and in the 74th minute got their just desserts. The white sea of shirts parted for the umpteenth time and an unmarked Decordova-Reid glanced a header into the corner from Pereira’s right-wing cross.

There was more slipshod Leeds defending to come. A throw-in, a burst into the box from the excellent Reed, a tap-in for Willian. Game, set and match to the Cottagers. Cue the boos and cries of Marsch getting the sack in the morning.

Time remained for substitutes Joe Gelhardt and Crysencio Summerville to combine for the latter’s first Leeds goal. The Dutchman raced onto Gelhardt’s threaded pass and squeezed the ball past Bernd Leno and drew a modest cheer. It was too little, too late.

Fulham more than deserved their victory. They played some good stuff and created by far the better chances and their midfield of Reed, Pereira and Joao Palhinha had Leeds’ measure. The hosts were easy pickings for them. Ayling exemplified this with his horror show. He lost Mitrovic for the equaliser and endured a torrid afternoon against the lively Willian and one has to question the call to start him over Rasmus Kristensen.

Marsch has to go. Marco Silva became the umpteenth manager to have outwitted him this season and his poor judgement was once again painfully apparent. For the first time in aeons the majority of the supporters want the board to sack the manager and with good reason. It’s the worst of both worlds. Poor performances and rubbish results. The defence is porous and the attack toothless and to have taken two points from the last 24 available is indefensible. Leeds will find themselves cut adrift at the bottom if this form goes on much longer.

The more they dither and delay the more the powers-at-be risk United’s hard-won place in the Premier League. The bones of a good team are there but there is a real danger that Marsch’s successor will end up with an impossible task on their hands. The experiment has failed and the lab is on fire and Leeds need to find an extinguisher and fast.

For what it’s worth the bigwigs insist that the American has their full support and he should take charge of the Liverpool match. It’s surely no more than a stay of execution. The die’s cast. Few will miss him.

Leeds (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Struijk (Gelhardt 85’); Roca, Greenwood (Klich 76’); Harrison, Aaronson, Sinisterra (Summerville 64’); Rodrigo (Bamford 64’).

Unused substitutes: Robles, Kristensen, Llorente, Firpo, Gyabi.

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Leno; Decordova-Reid, Tosin, Ream, Robinson; Reed (Cairney 90+2’), Palhinha; Wilson (Kebano 63’), Pereira, Willian (Duffy 89’); Mitrovic (Alves Morais 90+3’).

Unused substitutes: Rodak, Onomah, Mbabu, Diop, Harris.

Match statistics and facts: (Leeds / Fulham)

Possession: 57% / 43%

Shots: 14 / 11

On target: 5 / 5

Corners: 3 / 6

Fouls: 12 / 8

Bookings: Cooper (Leeds), Robinson (Fulham).

Man of the match: Harrison Reed.

Referee: Anthony Taylor (7/10).

Attendance: 36,447.

Photo: Action Images

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