Kemar Roofe scores “Hand Ball” Goal:
Leeds dominated the possession and produced the most dangerous of the relatively small number of goal scoring chances at Elland Road on Saturday evening. The away side took an early lead from a corner kick as Jack Robinson outmuscled Stuart Dallas and directed his header past Bailey Peacock-Farrell. It was yet another poor goal for Leeds to concede from a set piece. Leeds lost at Blackburn due to some awful man marking which allowed the Lancashire side to score from two corners. Leeds amassed an impressive 71% possession throughout the game and finally forced a deserved equaliser with eight minutes remaining.
Kemar Roofe’s hand directed the ball into the net to give Leeds a share of the spoils. It was fairly evident that it was handball and I’m surprised that the linesman didn’t see it. In fairness to the Leeds forward, he admitted that he handled the ball and did not try to deflect away from the truth. An injury time Pablo Hernandez back heel was inches away from securing the three points for Leeds. Marcelo Bielsa’s men showed passion and grit to get a something from the match. Leeds stay second in the table and face two tricky away games in the next few weeks.
Lack of Clinical Edge Costs Leeds Yet Again:
This season’s Championship possesses at least ten clubs with a genuine chance of promotion to the Premier League. There is no clear favourite to run away with the league like Wolves did last season. Leeds play the best football but currently have two major flaws – defending set pieces and a lack of cutting edge in the striking department. Leeds amassed 18 shots against a well organised but limited Nottingham Forest side, but only three of these shots were on target. The Forest goalkeeper Costel Pantillimon was forced into one real save of note when he pushed Pablo Hernadez’s deflected shot for a first-half corner.
The young Leeds substitute Jack Clarke provided the much-needed pace that the Leeds attack was missing. The 17-year-old winger whipped a fantastic low ball across the Forest five-yard box which should have been a tap-in for any of the Leeds attackers. I maintain the view that if Leeds had Chris Wood or Dwight Gayle that they would be five or six points clear at the top of the table. I find it cruelly ironic that when the club finally finds a quality management team who plays attacking football, we lack the number nine in the vain of Chris Wood or Jermaine Beckford. Teams with goal scorers get promoted from the Championship, and I am worried that Leeds don’t possess enough quality attackers to convert the number of chances created.
There are some mitigating issues which if remedied could improve the conversion rate for Leeds. The injuries to Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe derailed the fantastic start to the season. The long-term injury to Patrick Bamford has showcased the lack of attackers in the squad. Tyler Roberts has performed well but he is still learning, and the pressure of leading the line has proved tough. The most pressing issue facing Marcelo Bielsa is that the better opposition managers have decided to let Leeds keep the ball, but crucially are forcing most passes sideways. The early season wins were built on Leeds finding their attacking playmakers in between the lines of the opposition defence and midfield. The away demolition of Derby was a prime example of this as Samu Saiz, and Mateusz Klich continually found space which also freed up Kemar Roofe. Aitor Karanaka set up Nottingham Forest with a strong central spine and forced the Leeds midfield to pass to the side or backwards. The forward passes to Kemar Roofe were poor and holding the ball up front is not his greatest asset. Roofe needs to play on the shoulder of the opposition defenders. Leeds lack real electric pace in the wide areas and the standard of crosses into the box has been quite simply dire. Jack Clarke seems to have the electric sidestep and can drop his shoulder and beat his man. Marcelo Bielsa has stated that his team need many chances to score and that this is a problem that they are trying to rectify.
The Leeds defence has rarely been troubled from open play so far this season. The high percentage of possession means that Leeds can focus on building attacks from the back. The past few games have shown that defending from set pieces needs to improve quickly. The concession of goals from set pieces is putting pressure on the Leeds attack which does not convert enough of its chances.
With all these issues, Leeds are still second in the table. There is plenty to build on going forward. The away game at Wigan on Sunday offers a chance for the team to prove the moaners like me wrong. I hope they can get back to their early season form. A clean sheet on Sunday will get Leeds the three points.