|Leeds United 1 v 0 Norwich City
Wednesday, 24th January 2024 Kick-off 19:45
Bamford’s header keeps the winning run going
Thursday, 25th Jan 2024 21:33 by Tim Whelan
In the end Partick Bamford’s 16th minute goal was enough for Leeds to take all three points from the game with Norwich City, but the visitors made us work hard for the win, and after the game the striker admitted that if he’d taken one of his other chances it would have been a much easier watch.
Bamford told LUTV "I know that if I make the movement in the box, especially coming from the right side like when DJ is going to look to cross, he knows what my movement is. It's worked a couple of times now. But to be honest I am fuming that I didn't score the second."
And on the game as a whole he said "We obviously knew that we needed to win and it was a tough game, trust me. In the second half, for that first 20-25 minutes in the second half, we really had to dig in there so it was a well earned three points and the lads deserved the win."
Daniel Farke kept faith with the starting eleven who overcame Preston in the spiky game at the weekend, and his side made a lively start to the game. But there was an anxious moment in the early stages when Meslier came off his line to punch clear, in circumstances when a punch was just about justified.
When the ball came back in it bounced straight into the Frenchman’s arms, but it would have been a different story, as a forward just failed to get the touch needed to steer the ball past our keeper into the net. But then Leeds began to take control, and the goal came when James sent an excellent cross into the box from the right, and Bamford rose to steer the ball past the keeper in the direction he’d just come from, into the corner of the net.
As good as Bamford’s movement was, I thought it was really poor defending from Norwich, with James having time to look up and pick his spot as no one closed him down, and no real attempt to keep tabs on where Bamford had got to. Bamford’s next chance came when he tried an overhead kick, but he explained afterwards that he decided to attempt it a bit too late, so it came off his shin and went a fair way wide.
At the other end Rowe’s trickery took him into a good position and he put plenty of power into his shot, but thankfully it was straight at Meslier. Bamford had yet another chance, when he cut inside but curled the ball past the far post, but Norwich really should have equalised just before the break, when the ball came through to Sara. Perhaps the Brazilian was distracted by the presence of Gray, as he rushed his shot and sent it just past the post.
If that wasn’t warning enough that we still had work to do to seal the win, Norwich were to dominate possession for the early stages of the second half, though without managing to do a great deal with it. It was odd to see Leeds sitting back at home, a role reversal from the teams who come to Elland Road to sit deep, or even some of our opponents in recent away games.
As we were winning I didn’t mind this passage too much, and I thought that sooner or later we’d be able to use our legendary ability to catch teams on the break. And so it could have come to pass as Rutter used his strength to win the ball and set up Summerville, but after the Dutchman had worked his way into a good position on the edge of the box, he scuffed his shot and Gunn had no trouble gathering the ball.
But that chance seemed to release the shackles a bit, and we created a number of chances to make the scoreline more comfortable. Rutter just about kept the ball in on the touchline (or possibly didn’t) and forced Gunn into saving with his legs. It would have made for a bit of controversy if he’d scored after the officials had allowed him to continue his run.
Anthony had come on for the injured James at half time, and I didn’t think he looked all that comfortable on the right hand side. His moment might have come when Bamford played him in inside the box, but the pass was a bit too firm and Anthony didn’t control it first time, so by the time he was able to shoot a defender had got across to make the block.
But Rutter’s nimble footwork was continuing to break through the Norwich defence, and he set up Summerville to be able to cut in from the left and shoot. But Norwich were alive to that danger after his two goals from a similar spot at Carrow Road, so were quick to get in the way and a slight deflection saw the ball curling just beyond the far post.
Rutter again showed his trickery and strength as he cut into the box from the right, and a couple of passes later Firpo tried a shot from outside the area. Which was nearly a great moment, except that Gunn stretched to turn the ball round the post. But with the lead remaining at just the one there was always the possibility of a late equaliser, and nerves began to jangle as Rodon had to win a couple of key headers and Gray snuffed out one move with a great tackle.
On 90 minutes Byram was about to come on for Summerville to bolster the defence, but Gray had picked up a knock and so he had to come off instead. Three minutes added time had been announced, but this was extended as Gray received treatment, and again because of our very late substitutions. Summerville finally got a break as Joseph came on, and Cooper replaced Kamara.
And after Gunn came up for a last-ditch free kick there was the most ridiculous non-advantage I’ve ever seen (apart from possibly the famous televised Haaland/Grealish incident a couple of months ago). Leeds got the ball and Rutter was breaking away with the Norwich keeper still in our half, yet the ref pulled us back for our own free kick!
Thankfully that didn’t matter in the end, as the final whistle came after one final Norwich attack had been repelled. In truth, this had been a cagey affair for long periods, but the win is what matter most, even though it would have been nice to improve our goal difference a little more. As we maintain our 100% record for 2024 it looks like we’ve found our most effective formation up front with Bamford at the heart of it. Let’s hope he stays fit this time.
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