Leeds United 1 West Brom 1 – another toothless affair. Leeds United entertained West Brom FC at Elland Road, scoring more shots, dominating possession, but lacking bite. The winner of the match was the referee for awarding the West Brom goal from a hand ball.
The challenge for Leeds in early August is how the activities off the pitch are turning Leeds matches into a sideshow. With two goal keepers in the seven substitutes Leeds simply lacked a competitive squad to confidently win matches– not enough options including four striking options missing.
The initial spark in Leeds at the first match of the season against Cardiff was missing – Gnonto and Sinisterra. Leeds seemed to have an epidemic of players leaving or wanting to leave. The problems Leeds face are historic – poorly written contract relegation clauses – so it is going to be a long August for Farke before he can see who his squad finally is.
At the moment it’s a young squad. The combination of Shackleton, Byram and James’ speed on the left created opportunities. But with Gelhardt as the striker and Rutter behind him Leeds looked impotent in generating goals.
Opportunities in the first half hour were sparse with West Brom being stronger in launching counter attacks on Leeds but it was Leeds that created the goal chances. Shackleton managed to hit the post and James forced a save. Ayling was left adrift with James being used for his pace on the left. Struijk proved effective with his long direct crosses to James.
Meslier, a spectator in the first half was called on to make his first save at the beginning of the second as Leeds tried and failed to play out from the back. West Brom won a couple of corners and Leeds ended up behind for the third match in a row. The ball went in from a deflection from a West Brom player – a goal that should therefore have been disallowed.
Another poor referee decision followed the goal saw Gelhardt clearly taken down in the penalty box but no penalty given. Leeds did respond with a top corner shot from James saved by the West Broom keeper.
Playing a ten man West Brom defence Leeds forced an equaliser with James looping a cross that found a storming Ayling having an easy header into the net. He celebrated not with joy but with anger –get back and get another. The lack of impact subs showed how Leeds lacked strength with Greenwood the only sub used in the last ten minutes.
Gray is beginning to be a useful threat in midfield. With Shackleton also looking able to disrupt the opposition midfield with his pace. The two new players – Amapadu and Rodon – both looked comfortable on the ball – but they may wonder what they have walked in to at Elland Road.
Finishing was generally poor with both Gelhardt and James fluffing some of their touches when in sight of goal. Rutter was never in the match until the last minute. James has become an asset for Leeds with his pace and shots on goal. West Brom targeted him with up to three players around him every time he ran with the ball. Farke ended the match a frustrated spectator and fans quiet in their disgruntlement as Leeds ran out of ideas.
Man of the match: Dan James