|Birmingham City 1 v 0 Leeds United
Saturday, 12th August 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Leeds go down at Birmingham amid the off-field turmoil
Sunday, 13th Aug 2023 12:38 by Tim Whelan
Once Daniel Farke had fielded the questions about certain players he needed to re-focus on the task immediately in front of him. But that didn’t go the way we wanted, as a late penalty gave us our first defeat of the season at the hands of Birmingham City.
The manager made five changes to the starting line-up that began the season, four of them enforced for different reasons. There were suggestions that Sinisterra’s absence might have been to yet another knock, but Farke would only say that he was “unavailable”. The Columbian does have a release clause in his contract, so it’s possible that another club has now made a move for him.
Apparently Helda Costa is giving us a laugh in these difficult times by also refusing to play, which is a surprise, if only because most of us have forgotten that he’s still on the books. Cooper and Summerville are injured, and Hejde was released from his tormented spell of trying to be a left back. We only named eight substitutes, including two goalkeepers, and Sonny Perkins’ absence was due to illness.
Cresswell and Struijk were the youthful central defensive pair, while Rodon began his Leeds career on the bench. Incredibly, we seemed to be in danger of running out of wingers, despite having so many on the books, though it was a bit of a surprise that Shackleton played wide on the right while Poveda was in a central position. Sadly we were denied the chance to see Tyler Roberts so soon after his transfer, as injury kept him out of the Birmingham side.
In contrast to ourselves, the home fans were in a buoyant mood after an American takeover had rescued them from years of dodgy ownership (sounds familiar) and I thought we were unlucky to be the opposition for their first home league game under the new regime. One of their new owners is Tom Brady, and google tells me he’s some American sports superstar, rather than being a relative of Karen.
Everyone paid tribute to the late Trevor Francis, and then the Leeds fans have been thanked on social media for showing him due respect. And then a game of football tried to stutter into life. The first half was a dull affair, as Leeds had more of the possession, but with no out-and-out centre forward we struggled to make it count.
James had a shot blocked after a decent Ayling cross and Ampadu sent an effort over the bar, but that was about it. The game picked up after the break, but that was partly because the lively Dembele began to give Ayling a bit of a torrid time down our right flank. Our next chance came when Ruddy spilled a shot from James, but a defender reacted in time to stop Gelhardt getting to the rebound.
That was one of Joffy’s last contributions, and in truth he had struggled to get into the game before he was ‘hooked’ in the 67th minute, with Rutter coming off the bench for his return from injury. Soon after he had a shot on the turn then tried a another when it was blocked, but that was also cleared away.
Then both sides saw headers going wide from corners, Long for Birmingham and Byram for us, while Meslier got behind a long range shot from Bacuna. As we went into injury time the game seemed to be heading for a goalless draw, but that was before James collided with Laird just inside the area. It looked like an accidental tangle of legs as James had been focused on the ball, but the referee pointed to the spot.
Even then we could have salvaged a point as Jutkiewicz fired his penalty right down the middle and Meslier got his foot to it, but the shot was too powerfully struck for that to be enough to keep the ball out. And in the dying seconds the ball bobbled in front of Rutter at the other end, but he failed to get his shot away and our final chance of the game had gone.
Afterwards Daniel Farke told the media “When you judge the game, I think normally one point for each team would have been deserved. We had more possession, but they had obviously with their with their setup and offence, individual quality in their counter attacks. We had one or two really, really good situations in the first half, perhaps we lacked a little bit of quality in order to use the situation”.
So it’s obviously up to the powers that be at the club to sign some attacking talent with that while the window is still open, to replace that “bit of quality” that is flouncing off and refusing to play for us any more. Otherwise we won’t be having the season that we were expecting only a few weeks ago.
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