What a frustrating afternoon at Elland Road yesterday with Brentford being denied a well-earned point right at the death.
Fine margins yet again as a tight offside decision goes against us, just as the Hogan pushing decision also went against us last week. Dean Smith was convinced that both Vibe who made an excellent run from a cleverly taken free kick and Hogan who turned in his cross were both onside. Television evidence is less clear but it was a close run thing and given that Hogan was also cruelly denied a goal last Saturday when Mousinho went down as if there was a sniper in New Road then it is clear that we are not getting the rub of the green at present. Hogan might also have been awarded a penalty too just after the break when he ran into the area and was clumsily challenged by a defender. I do have to wonder whether the referee might have been more convinced if the incident had occurred at the other end? it is now around thirty games since Brentford were awarded a penalty too and looking at some of the soft awards that other clubs seem to be benefitting from – are you watching Sheffield Wednesday who received an early Christmas present yesterday against poor doomed and benighted Rotherham – then it makes you think that we are really unfortunate at present.
Hopefully the luck will change as we are very close to being a more than decent Championship outfit given a little bit of strengthening in the forthcoming Transfer Window.
Elland Road seems a bit flat yesterday and lacked its normal air of menacing triumphalism. There were also only the hardcore of Bees fans in attendance given the proximity to Christmas and the ludicrously high cost of match tickets.
Brentford performed excellently before the interval and totally silenced the crowd and made a good Leeds team look distinctly average. Bentley was totally redundant and had only one cross to punch away. Brentford dominated the midfield with Woods and Yennaris busy and Sawyers and Vibe finding space between the lines. The final pass just was not quite there and for all their possession and a concerted spell of pressure near to half time there were not enough chances created and Green was relatively untested and when we did get it right Hogan’s effort was controversially disallowed. We should have been ahead and a goal before halftime would have inspired us and deflated them.
The second half was a different matter and after a bright start the Bees were pushed back and began to turn the ball over carelessly at time and were caught on the break twice but thankfully Leeds missed presentable chances. As the game progressed the performance and energy levels clearly declined and the crowed began to scent blood. The goal came late on after we defended poorly out on the left and conceded a soft corner. We lost our defensive shape, did not cover the short corner and Egan was brushed off by the massive Bartley who beat Bentley to Dallas’s well flighted near post cross to score easily. That was that despite Egan almost making up for his error with a last gasp hooked volley narrowly over the bar.
What a frustrating and annoying journey it was back to the station as we contemplated the point that had got away.
We lost quite simply because we do not currently have sufficient fit players of the required standard. Tom Field played well and showed strength in the tackle and good positional sense but after the tough week he had had he ran out of puff and was substituted late on by Barbet – and that move cost us dear. He was exhausted and needs nursing, was on his last legs and that’s what I think Sawyers was telling the bench when he ran over to them just before he was subbed off.
Barbet is no full back, nor does he pretend to be and does not have the pace needed. He therefore stands off the winger and gives him more room. The corner from which they scored was down to his poor defending and slipping over at the crucial moment. There is no blame attached to him as he is simply doing the best he can in an unfamiliar position.
Nico Yennaris also disappeared from the action as the game progressed. He just does not seem to be fully fit and looks as if he is playing injured. He is one of our fittest players but now cannot seem to last 90 minutes so a lingering injury might well be the explanation. We missed his energy as McEachran never got into the game as we were pushed further back towards our own goal.
Vibe too is playing out of position just behind Hogan and missed one presentable early chance and should have had an assist. Kaikai did worry them a bit when he replaced the flagging Vibe but we do not have a number 10 capable of hurting teams at championship level and Macleod is sorely missed.
Leeds strengthened and we weakened as we were forced to make substitutions and a key difference was the quality of the two benches. Narrow margins yet again!
I am trying to be objective by saying that there is very little difference between ourselves and the major rump of this league.
We lack numbers, key players seem to be playing hurt and we all know where our weaknesses lie and I am quite sure that our DOFs are also well aware and that some of them might well be addressed in the transfer window.
To suggest that Dean Smith set us up to play for a draw as some have done is in my opinion total nonsense.
We simply did not have the puff or fresh legs needed to maintain our first half massive superiority.
We will be fine and will finish where we deserve, which is between 8-12th place.
By the way. Had we drawn at Bristol and Leeds rather than winning and then losing totally undeservedly there would probably have been less complaints even if we would have one point less and this is the first time that Leeds gave managed to beat us since we were promoted!!