A late header from Pontus Jansson saved Leeds from suffering an unjust defeat by Brentford at Elland Road on Saturday. Brentford took the lead through a controversial penalty early in the second half. It looked like a penalty in real time. However, once you view the instant replay, you can see the striker is going down before he is hit by Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Stuart Dallas started in place of the injured Barry Douglas in the only change to the starting eleven from the Hull game. Leeds looked tired from the outset. Usually, Leeds pressing and passing is done quickly and forcibly as in the previous two games. It was not until the final 20 minutes when Leeds put sustained pressure on the Brentford goal. A great cross from Gianni Alioski was brilliantly finished by Pontus Jansson with three minutes remaining. The referee Jeremy Simpson was a complete joke, and the sending off of Luke Ayling for two cautions was farcical. Brentford should have ended the game with at least one sending off. The honest reaction of Pontus Jansson on Sky after the match brilliantly summed up the feelings of all Leeds fans who were unhappy with the poor standard of refereeing.
The Swedish giant was back to his brilliant best and provided a genuinely dominant display. Liam Cooper produced his worst performance of the season, and his poor pass played a crucial role in Brentford taking the lead. Leeds side looked extraordinarily tired in the first hour, and it wasn’t until Brentford scored that Leeds upped the tempo. Pontus Jansson was pivotal in Leeds getting on the front foot. He was first to every ball sent up to the Brentford attackers and helped to start the Leeds counterattacks. His header for the equalizer was brilliantly buried past the Brentford goalkeeper. He was by far the best player on the pitch by a country mile. In my view, he deserved to get the man of the match award. He showed how much he loves the club with his passionate post-match interview with Sky. This portrayal of pure emotion will endear him even more to the Leeds fanbase.
Leeds played three tough games in the last 8 days. The two Yorkshire derbies against Sheffield Wednesday and Hull were controlled entirely by Leeds. Brentford are an excellent side and have an outstanding coach in Dean Smith. I have no doubt that Brentford will be involved in the push for the playoffs come May. The pace of the Leeds play was extremely slow in the first hour of the game. The introduction of young Jack Clarke gave some spark on the right side of the midfield. The young debutant supplied the much-needed impetus for Leeds to grab the share of the spoils. Marcelo Bielsa’s use of his squad going forward will be interesting to view. Lewis Baker and Adam Forshaw will be expecting to get more game time as the cold winter sets in. The overall strength of the Leeds squad has been severely tested over the past two months, and it will be crucial to get the injured players back fit as soon as possible.
The injuries to Kemar Roofe and Pablo Hernandez have seen Leeds draw recent games where they should have won. Marcelo Bielsa was very critical that his players only scored one goal from 14 attempts at Hull on Tuesday. The figures were must worse in the draw at Hillsborough last Friday where Leeds could have scored at least 5 goals. I made the point to my father who is also a lifelong Leeds fan that if we had a Dwight Gayle figure upfront, we would be 7 or 8 points clear at the top of the table. The loss of Kemar Roofe has been particularly devastating to the Leeds finishing stats. The striker was playing his best ever football in a Leeds shirt and looked brilliantly suited to the Marcelo Bielsa philosophy and gameplan. Tyler Roberts has done tremendously well in the last six games. The young forward’s goals have secured two vital wins over Preston and Hull. The Welsh international would be a significant impact substitute considering his electric pace. Let’s hope that Roofe and Hernandez will be back fir for the Blackburn game in a few weeks.