Leeds United 1 Southampton FC O. Gracia wins his first match. A nervous match which both teams needed to win. Leeds left it late to score and then endured a tough ten minutes in which either team could have scored.
Every recent match is a cup final. But this match against Southampton FC is the last one- lose and we fall deeper down into the relegation zone – not the end but a bigger hole to dig out of. This was Gracia’s first match. He chose a 4-2-3-1 formation with wide players.
Both teams played a possession game nervous to come out of their own half and looking for opportunities. Leeds, with Gnonto and Harrison wide try to get the ball to Bamford but he is marked out of most of the match.
The impact of Gracia was obvious – better passing for possession , and better forward crossing. At least for the first hour and then Southampton FC used up all their five substitutes, pushed Ward-Prowse forward and took more possession. Ward-Prowse, proved to be their only dangerous player but was limited to one late shot on goal.
Another improvement was Leeds having more shots –however, the accuracy was still woeful.
Firpo, brought in as defender, was used in front of Wober and worked effectively as an overlap for Gnonto, dangerous as ever. Aaronson was also better on the right crossing into the box, but is still as flakey as ever.
An area that still needs Gracia’s attention is corner taking. Only Greenwood seems to know what to do. In the first half hour, four corners were wasted.
Nearing half time both teams had an opportunity to score but the last pass was weak – no goals at half time. Nerves were still jangling.
Second Half – More Tension
Leeds United start brightly with a strong penalty shout as Bamford is hauled down by a defender’s leg. Southampton then had their best spell of possession with new substitutes but Meslier is not put to the test.
In the last quarter of an hour Leeds United make an attacking substitution with Rutter on for Aaronson. Rutter makes a small but positive impact getting the ball moving forward.
Then, with ten minutes to go Rutter gets the ball into the penalty box, Firpo moves the ball across the goal and then shoots past a defender blocking the keepers’ view and the ball glides under his gloves into the net. The players and fans are screaming with relief. Gnonto, who has run half the length of the pitch to celebrate, earns himself a yellow card.
Leeds tire in the last minutes. Harrison has had a poor game again. Bamford picks up a yellow card for a late tackle and is subbed – Lavia also get a card for pushing Bamford off the pitch when he is subbed.
A nervous match with a late goal to wake it up. Leeds played better, moving the ball tightly, getting into shooting positions. They will need to test the opposition keeper more in matches to stay up.
Man of the match: Firpo