Cardiff City 2 Leeds United 2 – a dramatic draw. The curse of the FA Cup nearly did it for Leeds again until Sonny Perkins saved our embarrassment with a last minute equaliser. A game of two halves that required both experienced and more youths to turn it around.
The one thing Bielsa could not get right was how to win cup matches – even against non-league clubs. Cardiff City FC may be struggling towards the bottom of the championship but until the 93rd minute they were about to continue our wretched record in cup competitions with another fail at the first attempt.
Marsch put out a much changed squad for this battle with Championship Cardiff CIty and the result was a disjointed effort. With Adams absent there was no other experienced player marshalling the team in midfield. The much changed defence with Llorente and Firpo – and a mistake by Struijk – cost Leeds dearly in the first half – outpaced and out-hustled on the ball.
Poor defending found cost Leeds United two gaols in under ten minutes by the half hour. After the first goal Leeds were rattled and picked up two yellow cards in two minutes – one of them a very unsubtle dive by Gnonto in the penalty box.
Cardiff deserved their first half lead playing a pressing game forcing Leeds to pass and lose the ball easily. Leeds United lacked game management – just more of that Leeds’ chaos. There were lots of talent on the pitch but without an experienced player in midfield Leeds looked leaderless.
Second Half – All Change
After being booed off at half-time Leeds started the second half more composed but Marsch quickly changed the line up: the new signing Max Wober in midfield, Rodrigo the firepower, and Drameh in defence – he knows Cardiff CIty from his loan days.
The impact was immediate with Wober taking control in midefield. The players are first to the ball and winning corners. Cardiff City no longer saw sight of the Leeds goal.
Struijk missed a clear header. Persistent pressure with a run of corners paid off as Rodrigo scored his eleventh goal of the season from the most straightforward of headers.
But Leeds were still a goal behind. Marsch’s response was to gamble on youths. Firstly with Matteo Joseph who almost scored.
Then a crazy moment as Cardiff defender, Joel Bagan, used his hand to save a Firpo shot and is given a red card. Leeds penalty but Rodrigo and the keeper go the same way and it is saved well. Leeds had ten minutes to score against ten men.
The a last toll of the dice for Leeds as another youth – Sonny Perkins – comes on. In extra time Sonny Perkins scores a classic poacher’s goal from a free kick. Marsch gambled on the kids and they partnered up with the older players to turn the game around.
So we go back to Elland Road for the replay. Whoever wins plays Boreham Wood or Accrington Stanley.
Man of the match: Max Wober