Two moments defined todays game, one at either end amongst many talking points. Ultimately Chris Wood and his 20th league goal of the season was what would separate the teams but a wonderful moment from Rob Green was just as crucial, saving brilliantly from £10m man Jordan Rhodes penalty.
There was no point in playing today down because it was what it was. A Yorkshire derby, a promotion battle and the chance to make a statement in front of the cameras to the other sides in the race. That is exactly what we did even though we didn’t play our best and results went very much in our favour. Only one other team in the top seven won. Newcastle, Huddersfield and Fulham all drew, Reading have been spanked by Brighton and obviously Wednesday lost. It makes it a significant day in the race with twelve games to go, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Chris Wood and Rob Green both providing key moments in the season.
The game wasn’t great but for the first half we dominated on the ball. The only issue was giving the ball away in key areas, mainly in front of the back four. Bridcutt and O’Kane overplayed at times and some slack balls out from the back were coming straight back at us, mainly from Bartley who looked slightly uneasy on the ball in the opening half hour. We were playing better than any opening half we have in a while but we didn’t look like getting in behind the Wednesday back four, then bingo. Berardi swung a ball in, Chris Wood showed the touch and finish of the top scorer in the league and Elland Road erupted, absolutely erupted.
Sheffield Wednesday came back into the game. Callum McManaman came on at the break, Adam Reach moving to left back and Wednesday, aided by the referee and some silly fouls mounted some serious pressure without actually testing Rob Green. After waving away a penalty shout in front of the South Stand, the referee who was loving his big day out gave a penalty at the other end, blowing his whistle before the player even hit the ground. All £10 million of Jordan Rhodes stepped up with the roars and chants of his name from the away end only to be bested by a glorious Rob Green save, Elland Road again shaking the foundations. We held strong after that, some very good and last ditch defending from different players meaning we’re up to 4th heading into March.
Man Of The Match – Chris Wood – Had one real chance and took it brilliantly. Everything that went to him stuck and in a game like today that was so important, also did his defensive duties at set-pieces.
Green – 9 – On top of the crucial penalty save he was commanding and had some key moments where he took the pressure off the team.
Ayling – 6 – I didn’t think Ayling was at his best defensively today. Left high and dry by Sacko on too many occasions. Crosses came in from his side but he worked very hard and put his body on the line.
Bartley – 7 – Shaky at the start but really stepped up the last half hour. Battled against Fletcher when he came on.
Jansson – 8 – Terrific today. A long goal kick that he hooked out on the bounce looked very dangerous. Best game in weeks.
Berardi – 7 – On reflection he did very well, winning headers and tackles. Wonderful block after the penalty save, love having him wear the Leeds United shirt.
Bridcutt – 6 – Thought he struggled playing with O’Kane yet again. The pair are too similar but he worked hard and kept taking the ball in deep areas when others wouldn’t. Needs to be playing with Vieira.
O’Kane – 5 – Not at his best and that was due to him no playing his natural role. Only room for either him or Bridcutt in that system.
Sacko – 5 – Very poor today, didn’t seem to want one on ones with the full-backs. Playing against a winger in the second half and still didn’t threaten.
Hernandez – 5 – Lovely pieces of skill followed by no end product. Tough day.
Doukara – 7 – Don’t underestimate what Doukara does in games like this. Holds the ball out wide and brings others into play. Worked very, very hard.
Wood – 9 – A striker can only score when he gets chances and we rarely give him them, but when they come along there he is. Held the ball well, he is a leader in this team. Without Wood where would we be?
Roofe – 7 – Thought he looked more dangerous than Sacko when he came on. Needs to be starting on Friday night.
Vieira – 6 – Did well when hen came on.
Dallas – 5 – Not enough time to make an impact.