Olly writes his latest article following a huge win away at Elland Road.
I watched the game on Sky at home today. I was a bit annoyed before kick-off listening to the Sky commentary on telly though, as I have been in the past when I’ve watched an away game on the box. I know we’ve always been regarded as the underdogs throughout our time, but it’s always the same with the Sky lot, so far up the other team’s backsides. I was listening to this lot banging on about Leeds this and that. To be fair though, it changed after the final whistle!!
We were a bit back to the walls during the first half and didn’t find much momentum I thought. We had obviously gone to Elland Road to weather the storm from Leeds and had to dig in for half an hour or so.
We didn’t go with the overlapping centre-backs and didn’t really pose much of a threat on the Leeds goal for a lot of the game. After the mid-week victory over Brentford, which was hard going when we were down to ten men, I think the players were being more focused on keeping Leeds at bay. Leeds did press for a lot of the first half though, and it took our back five to put their bodies on the line as they have most of these last few games. It wasn’t until Basham had rounded the keeper in the last minute of the first half that we had a really good opportunity to put our noses in front.
We came out for the second half with no substitutions and seemed to up our game and took it to Leeds with more time in possession and looking to hit Leeds on the break. I think Sharp and McGoldrick up front didn’t have much in the way of supply so had to be a bit creative in their approach to play. It would have been brilliant for Sharp to get a goal today, but as it turned out he was unselfish when he laid the ball off for Basham to grab our winner.
I didn’t think Basham had much of a good game during the first half, and when Duffy started warming up I thought he’d make way. The gaffer must have thought different though as Basham had our best chance of the first half, and then with the winning goal at seventy-one minutes. It was just as well he stayed on to get the goal though in the end!
After the goal, we seemed to sit back and defend deep again, with catching Leeds on the break, and to try and catch them out, especially after seeing Jansson struggle when Bielsa had made all three substitutions, so he couldn’t leave the pitch without leaving Leeds down to ten men. Bielsa eventually made the decision to push Jansson up front, which nearly paid off at one point! Mind you he wasn’t there long after Sharp broke away from the Leeds defence and was clear on goal with Casilla out of the area; Casilla got a straight red card for bringing Sharp down outside the area, to be fair we could have had two goals if Sharp stayed upright, but with the keeper gone, Jansson had to deputise in goal. It was a bit too late on to make it count though, and had it happened earlier we might have been able to take the game more to Leeds.
It was a nervy last five minutes though, my fingernails are gone now with me biting them so much after the referee added on another minute and a half after the five additional minutes were up. We still had to defend until the very end though, but managed to come through with one of the biggest results we needed in this half of the season.
I’m not sure what happened after the final whistle but Henderson seemed to be having some harsh words with a couple of Leeds players, I’ve no idea what had gone on, so will have to try and find out.
I think Bielsa looked a bit shell-shocked in the post-match interview and was a bit lost for words, maybe we’ve given Leeds a huge knock-back after this match, so perhaps they may fluff a couple of games now, especially now their keeper will have a three-match ban and Jansson will probably be out injured.
The second spot is ours and I hope it stays that way for the next eight remaining matches, so we don’t have to go through the play-offs. We haven’t a bad run-in for the last games to be fair, although our next against Bristol City which may be a bit of a difficult one, but I’m sure that the Bramall Lane faithful will get behind our lot and give them the confidence to beat City.
All in all the result today was a welcome and huge ending to a Saturday afternoon, and now the team has a time to rest during the international break, we should come back refreshed to home turf at BDTBL
Olly Longden (RFA)
Sheffield United MOD/Armed Forces Supporters Branch