Due to Leeds United's terrible fixture list this season, a 3pm Saturday kick-off at Elland Road is unheard of and was a nice little change compared to recent weeks. The cold winter had finally set upon Elland Road as I made my way to the ground in the rain and bitter winds.
Simon Grayson decided to make some changes to his starting eleven after the poor/lucky performance against Burnley at Turf Moor last Saturday. Luciano Becchio replaced Andy Keogh up top and Tom Lees replaced the suspended Darren O'Dea, with new signing Maik Taylor on the bench after his move during the week.
Just like last weeks game against Burnley, Leeds started poorly and didn't get much better. Becchio looked like a lost soul, and there was no creativity throughout the team. Leeds were struggling to get close to the Barnsley players and the marking was loose to say the least. The poor marking and lack of pressure continued and eventually after 27 minutes Barnsley took the lead. The ball found its way to the back post and Ricardo Vaz Te's shot found the back of the net. Then for some reason Vaz Te decided to celebrate like he had just won the World Cup by taunting the Leeds faithful in the Kop. Having said that, you probably would if you had disappeared into the abyss since your time at a Premier League club, in his case Bolton Wanderers.
United failed to reach to going behind and continued to play poorly. As a result Barnsley doubled their lead through Craig Davies. On-loan keeper Alex McCarthy laid the chance on a plate for Davies after palming the ball into his path. Just before half-time Leeds had their first real effort on goal, as I was told by several fans around me who were disgusted with the first half performance.
The opening exchanges of the second were fairly even but Leeds were given a lifeline ten minutes into the second-half. Ross McCormack ended his goal drought by blasting a sublime free-kick past the helpless Steele. The whole crowd lifted immediately and for the next few minutes Leeds were fired up. Snodgrass and co continued to pressure the Barnsley defence but it was to no avail. Barnsley started to make things even harder for Leeds by throwing most of their men behind the ball, and the lack of creativeness within the Leeds ranks was all too clear to see.
Barnsley were reduced to ten men in the 77th after David Perkins picked up his second yellow when fouled Adam Clayton outside the box. The Whites failed to make the one man advantage pay and chances on goal were not often to say the least. However Ramon Nunez had a fantastic opportunity to rescue a point at the death, but Steel did brilliantly to close the angle and block his effort resulting in Barnsley leaving Elland Road with all three points.
Losing to Barnsley isn't easy at the best of times. They're a Yorkshire rival and always raise their game against us (doesn't everybody??). After last years 5-2 defeat we won't be allowed to forget this for some time by our neighbours with the most horrible dialect in the world.
Leeds lacked any real creative spark today, someone to get hold of the ball and boss the game and dictate the play. Adam Clayton was very poor in the centre of the park. Luciano Becchio was woeful again, in fact the only thing he did was win a free-kick and about two minutes later he was replaced. Tactically Leeds looked terrible, there was no plan A and as a result of no plan A there was obviously no plan B. The day was summed up when Grayson replaced McCormack for Danny Pugh, (work that out for yourself if you can). Once again United relied far too much on Snodgrass. Teams know he is a danger and as a result put two men on him, as much as he tries he can't do everything on his own. And finally the referee was a shambles.
Barnsley also deserve credit for today, the Whites were woeful but the Tykes had a game plan and stuck to it fantastically. Off the ball they worked hard and were very hard to break down.
Jonny Howson looked a lot better today, his past performances have been poor but he is playing far more defensively. Also on my way to the Kop I noticed the beautiful Leeds crest was back in its place on the East Stand. And erm that was it.
The defeat is hard to handle considering our recent results. What makes it worse is I travel through Barnsley on the train five times a week. First that accent and dialect of theirs, and now this.