Championship – Leeds United 2 Swansea City 1 on Saturday, 11th September 2010
Match Report by Bethan and Peter Charles
A disappointing outcome to an entertaining game, though the Swans will be ruing the squandered opportunities which ultimately cost them all three points today. For much of the game our midfield performed like the best in the division, which it quite possibly is; only to be let down by our lack of striking depth and an unfortunately soft underbelly which has appeared at the heart of our defence. It is too early to say whether this will be the tale of the season.
The Swans lined up with DeVries in goal, Taylor and Tate as respective left and right backs, and Williams and Monk in the centre. The midfield five comprised Dyer and Cotterill to the right, Sinclair and Orlandi to the left, and Gower in the central “Pratley” role. Dobbie was the spear-head of the attack.
In a quiet opening neither side was able to establish authority in the early exchanges. For Leeds there was a weak headed effort from Gradel on 5 minutes and a minute later for the Swans an excellent low cross from Dyer which just evaded Dobbie. The home side then began to press forward and in the eight minute should have taken the lead when Bradley Johnson was too easily allowed to cross from our right side, and Becchio fired in a low shot which was deflected for a corner. A similar incident a few minutes later, in which a routine cross was headed clear of our bar by Kilkenny, further illustrated that we need to work harder to cut out deliveries from wide positions.
But it was the Swans who took the lead a couple of minutes later – a raking pass from Gower looked as though it would be cut out by the full back, but the Leeds defender failed to clear allowing Dobbie to run in unopposed and slot a neat finish past Higgs – a well claimed goal from a striker in form. Three minutes later it should have been two, as a neat Swans move resulted in Sinclair being put through in a one on one with the keeper. This time Higgs foiled the opportunity as Sinclair tried to round him – the first of several important interventions from the home keeper.
Leeds responded when another deep cross, this time from our left, caught Dorus flapping; the ball hit Tate’s legs and luckily bobbled for a corner rather than into our net. This was to be Leeds’ last threat to our goal for some time as we gradually took control of the game through our calm, constructive and sometimes quite intricate passing play. Gower was bossing the play from his withdrawn role, and the wide players were creating all sorts of difficulties for the Leeds defence, particularly through the pace of Dyer and Sinclair.
On 28 minutes we nearly doubled our lead when some good work from Coterill and Dobbie set up Dyer for a shot from just outside the area – Higgs dived to his left to make a smart save. We continued to dominate but chances were limited – the best being an excellent low shot from Dobbie on 44 minutes which brought an even better save from Higgs who this time had to throw himself low to his left to tip the effort around the post. A long range effort from Cotterill followed, which was comfortably saved. Then in the dying seconds, Leeds reminded us that they were still in the game, a fine effort from the excellent Bradley Johnson rattling our cross bar with Dorus beaten. The Swans fans were up beat at half time, but I sensed a feeling of concern that we had failed to make our possession and dominance count.
In the opening exchanges of the second half we looked completely comfortable, passing the ball around with ease and creating the first couple openings – particularly a fine long range effort from Sinclair which sailed just wide. Then on 52 minutes we contrived the beginning of our own down-fall. Some ponderous defending in the last third failed to clear the ball and Taylor was forced to foul a Leeds player in a dangerous wide position. The resulting free kick was swung in viciously; the first header was excellently parried by Dorus, but the rebound fell kindly for Johnson who hammered the ball home from close range. It was cruel on the Swans, but the home side had never looked entirely out of it.
Buoyed up by this, and by their suddenly enlivened crowd, Leeds continued to press and five minutes later they took the lead. The lively Gradel, who had switched wings having got no joy of out Taylor on our left, completely skinned Tate on our right and fired in a low cross. From this, a shot was hammered in which DeVries saved well, followed by a rebound which he also saved, only to find the second rebound slotted home by Becchio. It was a typical Leeds power-play goal, and hard on the Swans who barely deserved to be behind – but we have to look at our defence who had opportunities to clear both goals only to find themselves second to the ball for each. Leeds continued to press and there was an unsavoury moment as Becchio slid in for a fifty-fifty ball with DeVries – Dorus objected to the challenge and a melee followed, with Dorus and Becchio picking up yellow cards for their trouble.
The last 25 minutes or so saw a positive response from the Swans in their efforts to save the game. Allen and Van Der Gun replaced Dyer and Orlandi respectively, and several good chances came out of the flowing football which we played in this period. On 71 minutes a delightful piece of skill from Cotterill saw him turn his defender at pace and swing in a fine cross which was met by the head of Allen, only to see the effort blocked. On 75 minutes an effort flew just over the bar from Dobbie and a minute later an intricate passing move almost freed Allen in the box, only for the youngster to crumble under a challenge – but no penalty was forthcoming, and probably rightly. On 81 minutes a fine flowing move involving Van Der Gun Dobbie and Allen saw the Dutchman sweep a close range effort just wide at the near post and in the dying minutes a long range effort from Dobbie was parried. During this period Leeds looked lively on the counter and only a couple of late interventions from our defence prevented them adding a flattering third.
DeVries – 6 A decidedly flappy day on crosses; would be disappointed that his parried saves weren’t rescued by his defence.
Tate – 6 Failed to stop the deliveries from the right – could learn from his young counterpart on our left side.
Williams – 7 some timely interventions, but we were slow to react for the goals
Monk – 6 See above.
Taylor – 8 the pick of our defenders; gave Gradel a torrid game.
Dyer – 8 Tricky and pacy running caused all sorts of difficulties before he tired late on.
Cotterill – 6 Some lovely moments but not his most influential game.
Gower – 7 An excellent first half, though perhaps greater tenacity needed after the break.
Orlandi – 6 Linked up well with Gower in the middle though not so much penetration going forward
Sinclair – 7 Showed some excellent flashes of his ability, though a little patchy.
Dobbie – 8 an excellent all round performance – took his goal well, had several other efforts and looked inventive and positive throughout.
Allen – 7 A great little cameo – aggressive and inventive
Van Der Gun – 7 As above, though missed a chance to equalise
The Swans crowd was in great form today – over 2,000 it appeared, out singing their home counterparts for most of the game. They all left disappointed with the outcome but not really from the performance, which at times was dominant and stylish.
Indeed, more than one Leeds fan made a point of telling us this as we made our way back to the car (whilst several thousand others contented themselves with sheep noises!). We really have assembled and excellent array of talent in the midfield – time will tell if we will bring in the striking and defensive depth to complement it. We caught a brief word with Huw Jenkins in the car park afterwards and he seemed as gutted as we did, but equally pleased with the performance. There is a long way to go in this season, and plenty to take encouragement from.