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Ipswich Town 3 v 4 Leeds United
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 26th August 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Was this the day that it all came together for Leeds United?
Sunday, 27th Aug 2023 08:37 by Tim Whelan

We seemed to be heading for another difficult afternoon when Ipswich Town took the lead after seven minutes, but what we got was an excellent comeback from Leeds to take the lead, and then hold on as a thrilling game ended in our first win of the season.

It had already been a very interesting week for the club before we even got to Portman Road, with the rehabilitation of Willy Gnonto and a couple of drawn-out transfer sagas, some of which are still rumbling on. With the strengthened squad I was far more optimistic about the rest of the season, but I thought this particular game had come around a little too early for us.

Not only were we away from home against a side who had won all three of their games so far, but it might take Piroe a bit of time to get to know the play of his new team-mates, and I wasn’t sure about mental state of Gnonto and Sinisterra at this stage of their rehabilitation. But all three were in the starting line-up, with Dan James dropping out squad with an abductor problem (whatever that is).

Congratulations to the Ipswich PA for only mispronouncing the names of four of our starting line-up, and just two of our subs. These pesky foreign names, eh. Given our continuing issues at left back I was going to keep an eye on Leif Davis, who has been a key member of the Ipswich side ever since we sold him. Admittedly we were in the Premier League when we decided he wouldn’t make that level, but we could probably do with him now.

Leeds looked the livelier side for the first seven minutes, but as so often in recent times a good spell was followed by the other side breaking away to score. It was that man Leif Davis who began the move with a good ball down the left to Jackson, while Ayling was otherwise occupied appealing for offside.

Rodon went to block Jackson’s dangerous ball across the face of goal, but the ball spun off his knee and found just the right angle to creep inside the post and beyond the reach of Meslier. Thus we kept our 100% record of conceding the first goal in every game of the season so far in all competitions, even including the league cup tie with Shrewsbury.

And it was all starting to look a bit ominous a couple of minutes later when more good work by Davis on the Ipswich left led to Byram having to block a shot from Burns at the expense of a corner. But what was to follow was probably the best ten minute spell Leeds United have had for a good many years. Not just in the context of this particular game, but the way it might have turned around our whole season after a difficult start.

There were also goals from the returning naughty boy, the new centre forward we’ve needed for so long, and a first Leeds goal from a player who has endured a torrid time since he came to Elland Road. Rutter had looked much happier playing alongside Piroe rather than in the lone striker role that doesn’t suit him, and in the 10th minute he finally showed the quality we paid all that money for back in January.

He was surrounded by Ipswich defenders when he collected the ball outside the area, but he twisted and turned past all of them to break into the box, and then sent his shot across Hladky and in off the far post. One of our Facebook groups has a picture of the rejoicing this produced among our travelling fans, all falling over at the top of the away section of the ground.

Four minutes later there didn’t seem to be much danger as Byram crossed to the far post, but Gnonto reacted much faster than Hladky or Davis to knock the ball home from close range. And we were 3-1 up after only 19 minutes, as Sinisterra cut in from the left and Hladky was unable to hold his fierce right foot shot, with Piroe’s striker’s instinct taking him to the right place at the right time to hammer the ball into the net.

Unfortunately that was also the minute when the Ipswich fans needed to pay tribute to a young fan who had sadly passed away, so they had to applaud when their team had just conceded a goal. Which was a bit awkward. Their team was still showing plenty of spirit, and as they tried to hit back straight away Byram had to stretch to block a shot right on the line.

But he’d injured himself in the process, so Drameh came on for his turn to try to be a left back. At last he had some of the first team action he’s been demanding, but not on the flank where he wanted to be. As Ipswich continued to press Meslier made a fine save from Jackson, and Drameh made a couple of decent interceptions, but generally looked a little bit lost out on the left.

And it was Drameh’s error deep into first half injury time which allowed the home side to pull a goal back. He failed to control the ball so had to turn round and collect it, so he didn’t have a clear idea of where the players where behind him as he attempted a pass back to Mesilier. It was woefully underhit, which allowed Jackson to nip in and take the ball round our noble keeper.

Jackson was left with far too narrow an angle to shoot from, but he spotted Broadhead racing into the box, and with Mesiler out of position Broadhead was left with the simple task of hammering the ball into the net. All of which led to Farke replacing Drameh at half time, which was hard on the young man, but we had an important game to win. So Shackleton was on as our third left back of the afternoon.

Ipswich were obviously boosted by pulling a goal back, and in the early part of the second half our defence had to throw themselves in the way of a couple of decent shots to block the danger, but at least we were looking determined to hold onto our lead. At the other end Sinisterra cut inside for another of his trademark right foot shots, but sent it too close to Hladky, and this time the Ipswich keeper was able to hold it.

And Hladky had to be alert again as Piroe broke away, getting down well to push the ball into the side netting. Then Ipswich made a triple change, which included the introduction of Brandon Williams, and the fact he’s on loan from Man United didn’t escape the attention of the Leeds section of the crowd. So it was satisfying that he was caught napping when our fourth goal finally arrived on 75 minutes.

The Ipswich boss was later to claim there was a foul before the ball fell to Shackleton, but his pass up the left flank found Sinisterra, and the Colombian cut inside to curl the ball inside the far post. This caused a little bit of bother in whatever the Churchman’s stand is called these days, presumably because some Leeds fans in there got over-excited and upset the locals. We’re Leeds United, we’ll sit where we want, etc.

Even then Ipswich didn’t give the game up and Meslier needed to save from Taylor and Hutchinson, while Chaplain was kind enough to shoot wide from a good positon. To freshen things up a bit Farke sent Gelhardt on for Sinisterra, and as we moved into injury time Cresswell and Gyabi came on for Ayling and Piroe.

I’m not quite sure what the defensive formation was meant to be after all that, but it didn’t work as Ipswich broke through and this time Chaplain shot just inside the post. Surely we weren’t going to let this game slip after all? Thankfully there was hardly any time remaining, and after six minutes of injury time the final whistle ensure that we had held on for our first win of the season.

It’s hard to put a match into perspective so soon after I’ve witnessed it, but I think we could well look back on this game as the turning point after the very difficult two and a bit seasons we’ve all endured. The attacking unit we now have at our disposal should be a match for anyone in this division, and this game should prove to be the springboard for climbing the table and mounting a promotion challenge.

There are still defensive issues to address, but the club are working on making further signings in the coming days, and the whole mood on social media has totally changed from what it was just a week ago. So was this the match when it all came together?

Photo: Action Images

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