Leeds United’s fine away form continued with a fantastic win against 4th place Coventry City.
Leeds arrived at the Ricoh on the back of a win at Scunthorpe highlighted by a superb Jonny Howson hat-trick. It was the Leeds skipper who set Leeds away in the best way possible, once again finding space to head home a Snodgrass cross.
The form of those two players was the key to the victory for Leeds. Simon Grayson may way have stumbled on a winning formula. Howson playing in a Steven Gerrard style role simply tore Coventry apart in the first half. By just ghosting about he was finding time and space all the time and Coventry simply could not cope with him. Couple this with a rejuvenated Robert Snodgrass and Coventry were in disarray.
The two players combined again as Snodgrass found Howson unmarked again, but this time Howson guided his header just the wrong side of the post. Snoddy decided not to bother with a cross minutes later, simply cutting in from the right to curl a delightful effort into the top corner.
Coventry were being overrun in midfield, so decided to just bypass it completely. They brought on convicted sex offender Marlon King. Only in football can a man so vile be cheered onto the field. The Leeds fans made their feelings known, and in a tasteful manner (just a simple taunt of “She said no”), as soon as he arrived and throughout his time on the field. City then spent the rest of the game just lumping the ball forward. Leeds saw the half out without too much trouble.
Unfortunately we couldn’t see out the opening 10 of the second half, and Coventry ariel bombardment brought them a goal, as Jutkiewicz nodded home as the ball bounced around the box. 70 years on from the Coventry blitz, and Leeds were now looking to the skies for enemy bombs.
Leeds though without a doubt were the best footballing team. Our problem was that by defending deep, we had no outlet. Full marks then to Max Gradel for staying out wide. He was often our outlet and despite his size got up well to challenge for a header against Cov full back Keogh. As Keogh struggled to regain his feet he lunged in on Gradel and brought him down just inside the box for a penalty.
As usual there seemed to be an argument as to who should take it. Becchio and Gradel. Both wanted it, and as I think Becchio has missed everyone he has taken Gradel won the day. I still wasn’t confident he would score, but he calmly rolled it in to restore the two goal advantage.
Leeds though don’t do things easy and immediately conceded again a low effort from Ben Turner getting past Jason Brown far too easily. With 25 minutes to go I didn’t feel we could see it out.
Yet despite all the pressure, Leeds surprisingly looked relatively comfortable. Andy O’Brien has added some know how to the back four and Leeds restricted Coventry to just a couple of efforts, both of which Brown handled comfortably.
It was Leeds who were the closest to adding another, a classic counter seeing Becchio round the keeper only to see his effort brilliantly cleared off the line by Turner. 5 minutes stoppage time were seen out professionally for a great win.
So will Leeds stick with this winning formula on Tuesday night against Hull. One striker at home? It has to be the case. The 4-3-3 formation works. Howson is given absolutely free rein to get up and support Becchio, and coming from so deep defences are struggling to pick him up. The wide men Gradel and Snoddy were excellent and were backed up well by the full backs. Faye is pedestrian but just sits and gives it to Killa who makes us tick. My only worry in the formation is a lack of pace in midfield should teams run at us and Becchio, who has been pretty ineffective, Boro apart. Paynter might get a look in on Tuesday.
Hull are there for the taking at the moment and offer the ideal opportunity to end the home hoodoo. Following the Cardiff defeat 6 points from 6 is a fantastic effort. With Hull and Bristol City to come 6 more points are easily within reach and would cement our place in the playoff hunt.
Final thoughts go to our magnificent support. Almost 7000 boosted the gate to the highest for a league game ever at the Ricoh. Singing throughout the first half, and really getting behind the team as we were under pressure in the second. What that support means to the players can be seen by the actions of Jason Brown. Destined to sit on the bench at Blackburn for the remainder of the season he was pumping up the crowd in those final minutes. At the final whistle he threw his shirt and gloves into the crowd. He may not stay long in our memories, but you can be certain we will stay long in his. Let’s remember to get behind the team on Tuesday rather than on their backs.