Leeds promotion hopes are a morsel steeper now as they fell 1-0 to Millwall in the opening leg at The Den. With Millwall holding the narrow one-goal advantage the second leg of the semi-final returns to Elland Road on Thursday as the Whites look to continue their winning form at home.
For the match there were few surprises as Simon Grayson was definitely looking to button down defensive concerns and it certainly wasn't shy of physical encounters. Unfortunately on the attacking end of the pitch tactical play was highly predictable and the final touch of Jermaine Beckford was definitely absent on the day as he was supplied a number of "can't misses", including a scrumptious back-heel by Luciano Beckford that he should have dispatched into the net. Both Robert Snodgrass and Fabian Delph seemed to be pushed off form with a bit of the physical stuff, a definite clue on how to play the youngsters, particularly Mr. Delph who could have easily been shown a straight red prior to the break.
While it is "possible" to make claim that Leeds had a upper-hand before the break it was a modest one at best as the final touch was far from what is need in these lofty days of May. After the break Leeds was shown susceptible to flanking assaults, most notably via James Henry and failed to counter appropriately or respond in shape, seeming more inclined to return home with a nil draw on the resume. With nineteen minutes remaining a wandering long-ball to the right was latched onto by Gary Alexander, who then crossed into the box with Richard Naylor caught wrong-footed and simply missing in clearing, resulting in none other than Neil Harris pounding the ball into the netting. If there was a sub-plot to the match, it surely is the concern for fan violence to the extent that sections of the stands were closed and they kept attendance below sell-out to ensure control. While for the most part, those concerns were kept under-wraps following the goal a number of Millwall supporters rushed the pitch with Leeds 'keeper Casper Ankergren struck by a fan. That aside, the situation was well under control and a few dozen horsemen made sure of it. Without further mark the match concluded with Leeds needing to fight back on Thursday from a one-goal disadvantage. No need for panic as at home the situation will be of-course, so very different.