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Leeds United team vs Bournemouth 16th September 2014

Capture

Goals

“Oh, woe is me,

T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!”

In Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, Ophelia utters the above words in regards to Hamlet. Fast forward a few centuries and these could well be the words on the lips of many a Leeds United fan; there are 39 more episodes where ‘woe’ could become even more apparent too. By the season’s end Leeds could easily have gone through a whole host of managers at this rate. Could Shakepeare’s Ophelia really be a Leeds fan in disguise?

To say that Leeds weren’t “at the races” is an understatement; the runners and riders had packed up by the time we arrived – the paddock was empty…and still we were our own worst enemy in the first half. It seems that the old adage of football being a ‘game of two halves’ is going to prove to be Leeds’ lucky charm this season…as long as we go behind first that is. The way that Leeds replied was the biggest comeback since Lazarus rose from his bed, cured by the Lord Jesus.

Oh, Ophelia, if you’d only have waited until the second half.

Leeds were like the British Army at Rourke’s Drift in the opening exchanges; hopelessly outnumbered and woefully over-run. Therefore, it was no surprise that they fell behind to a Bournemouth goal on 7 minutes scored by Andrew Surman. The ‘tale of the tape’ after 12 minutes told you everything you needed to know about the game up until that point [Bournemouth stats first]: passing was even-Stevens 74%-75%, crosses 9-1 and shots 5-1. Just after that, in the 14th minute, Silvestre was called upon to make a fantastic save, tipping away a good shot from Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie. He followed that up with a double stop in the 25th minute to really keep Leeds United in the game. At half time, Leeds couldn’t have bought a win if they were on sale at a vastly reduced price; we were that poor.

The second half started much the same as the first but Leeds didn’t seem as ‘rabbit-in-the-headlights’ as they were at the start of the first 45. The defence, whilst harried, didn’t seem as paper thin as they were in the first half. However, again, on 62 minutes the impressive Marco Silvestre was called on to keep Leeds in the game with yet another stop, this time from a Ryan Fraser shot. Then, shortly afterwards, the fun began.

Leeds had been getting their proverbial ‘eye in’ and were coming into the game more with neater passing proving to be more successful. On 67 minutes the impressive Tommaso Bianchi slipped a ball beyond the Bournemouth backline to the powerfully-built Souleymane Doukara. At first it looked like he was going away from goal at the right side of the 18 yard box but a vicious right-foot shot, across the ‘keeper Lee Camp, nestled into the bottom left corner. At 1-1, Leeds would realistically have bought the draw but it wasn’t to be; their £1.6 million signing from Calcio Catania, Guiseppe ‘the Warrior’ Bellusci had other ideas.

A foul resulted in a free kick around 28 yards from goal in the 82nd minute – normally safe territory when defending against a centre back more used to booting centre  forwards than sweetly striking the ball. When I saw him standing over the ball my initial thoughts were “Just don’t put it in the car park!” A short run up, short back lift of the right leg and the ball zipped…into the top left corner; the ‘keeper done up like a kipper. That goal galvanised Leeds who really were in the ascendency now. Fans were anticipating another goal; just to make things that little bit safer.

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They had to wait exactly 8 minutes. Receiving the ball just outside the Leeds United box, Souleymane Doukara began to run, looked up and spotted the hard-working and rapid Mirco Antenucci who set off on a run. Doukara played the ball through and Antenucci, whose perfectly-timed run beat the offside trap, galloped nearly half the length of the field before coolly firing across the keeper with his right foot into the left-hand side of the goal.

It’s been a long time coming, it really has but, watching that Leeds United performance, has really made me wonder whether it could all be coming together. There wasn’t anything ‘scrappy’ about any of the goals; not simple tap-ins or scrambled efforts inside a packed box where the ball is bouncing around like a wayward pinball. Despite being starved of possession (Leeds had 39% of the play), despite being outgunned (19 shots to 11 shots) and despite being outpassed (543 to 357), Leeds United came away with an improbable victory that really wasn’t on the cards after 45 minutes.

Neil Redfearn stands currently unbeaten as Leeds’ caretaker manager with a record of 3 games, 2 wins, 1 draw with the 7 points from his games in charge moving Leeds up to 13th in the Championship table.

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Marco Silvestre performed heroics in the Leeds United goal to keep Leeds in the game, at times, and to help deliver a very welcome 3 points. Over the course of the night he made 5 saves, proving himself to be a goalkeeper that can be relied upon in ‘shot situations’. His distribution accuracy was marginally better than the previous weeks with 37% (2 throws, 4 kicks from back passes) but the distance on his set kicks remain of a consistent length with distances being goal kicks gaining 63 metres and from hand a distance of 62 metres.

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Again the Leeds United defence, after a shaky start, showed signs of them becoming a more solid and dependable unit. The usually dependable Stephen Warnock had one of his quieter games but again, Giuseppe ‘the Warrior’ Bellusci was the star of the back four. He weighed in with 4 interceptions and 12 clearances but it was his sweetly-struck free kick that was the talking point of the evening. From just shy of 30 yards, Bellusci hit a right-footed shot that zipped goalwards and lodged itself into the top left corner. As a defensive unit, the 5 players used on Saturday totalled 91 ‘performance points’ (Squawka) with Bellusci and Stephen Warnock again leading the way with 43 and 33 points respectively.

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The four starting midfield players were largely starved of the ball in this game as Leeds only had 45% of the possession and had an actual passing ratio of 0.40, recording 364 passes to the 543 recorded by their opponents Bournemouth. Tommaso Bianchi dropped 2 places in the WhoScored passing rankings, based on his Avg P score with his total tonight being 39 passes (90% completion) and he now sits in 9th place with 58.2 average passes per game. I’ve bemoaned the lack of any ‘thrust’ from the Leeds United midfield thus far this season where creativity has been sacrificed for neatness and volume of passing; tonight you couldn’t say that. and had an actual passing ratio of 0.40, recording 364 passes to the 543 recorded by their opponents Bournemouth. e top left coThe 4 players who formed the midfield against Bournemouth contributed 8 passes that resulted in shooting chances and also weighed in with 2 assists. The 8 chances created by the midfield 4 tonight represents 57% of the chances these 4 players have created all season. That fact alone illustrates what a stand-out performance they achieved in this particular game compared to the previous 6 games. Further to this, and I nearly fainted watching it, Tommaso Bianchi played a through ball, yes a through ball, to Souleymane Doukara that split the defence and led to Doukara’s well-taken goal.

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Billy Sharp’s contribution was hindered somewhat by the ineffectiveness of Leeds’ play in the opening 60 minutes. This was summed up by an attempted pass from Rodolph Austin that wasn’t just aimed to Sharp’s feet but took him off them such was the ferocity of the pass. Again, it was Mirko Antenucci that had fans and commentators alike purring with satisfaction. Not only was he dropping back to defend but he was again tidy with his passing play (20 completions – 80% accuracy overall). He also had 2 shots, (both on target) and scored one goal where he ran fully 40 metres, leaving the defenders for dead before firing across the keeper to the left-hand corner. Souleymayne Doukara was included both in the midfield write-up and in the table here as he usually plays as a striker but tonight played as a very advanced attacking midfield player at the head of a ‘diamond four’ formation.

After this victory, Leeds rocket 6 places up to 13th place in the Championship table with Redfearn now having a return of 7 points from a possible 9. This, is the stuff of promotion dreams.

Today, it is good to be a Leeds United fan.

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