The Championship season started disgustingly for Leeds after going down 3-1 away at freshly promoted Southampton. You would have thought that a Yorkshire Derby in the League Cup 3 days later would entice a response out of the Yorkshire side's squad, however, this wasn't the case.
Leeds boss Simon Grayson only made 3 changes for the game, all of which were enforced. Robert Snodgrass, Max Gradel and Darren O'Dea were all away on international duty meaning that Ramon Nunez, Lloyd Sam and Ben Parker were included in the starting eleven. There were two players in the Leeds squad who have spent time at Bradford in their careers, Andy O'Brien having started his professional career at Bradford and Ben Parker spent some time on loan there.
The opening half an hour past by without any real incident other than a few over enthusiastic challenges flying in from the Bradford City players. The only chance worth writing home about was that of Ramon Nunez's. Adam Clayton was played through down the right hand side and his brilliant chipped cross left Nunez with only the keeper to beat. However, the Honduran international was left red faced as he fired well over the bar when it was easier to hit the target.
Just after the half hour mark, it was the same old story for the Leeds United defence as League Two Bradford took the lead at Elland Road. Jack Compton was the scorer, sending the 4,000 travelling Bradford supporters into delirium.
Chants of 'Bates out' were fairly tame before City took the lead but the goal was a catalyst for the volume of the chants to raise and the team seemed to be feeling the pressure as their performance didn't improve at all before half time. Lonergan's goal faced a few more threats before the referee blew his whistle for half time amid boo's from the Elland Road faithful, obviously worried about what they have seen so far during the 2011-12 campaign.
The half time break did wonders for United as they were level within the first minute of the second period. A nice dummy from Ross McCormack resulted in Lloyd Sam receiving the ball and following some good work from him despite seemingly being fouled he got the ball to Adam Clayton, who picked out Ramon Nunez. He got the ball out of his feet and curled the ball into the net via the crossbar, a brilliant finish, completely making up for his poor effort in the first half.
The majority of whites fans, myself included, thought that Leeds would go on to win the game easily from there but United never do it the easy way. Just before the hour mark the visitors took the lead again with a strike from Michael Flynn. First look suggested that it was a brilliant strike, however, on reflection Leeds hesitant defence could once again take the blame. Furthermore, United's new shot stopper Andy Lonergan should have done much, much better with it. Nonetheless the Bradford fans were once again in dreamland as they took the lead for the second time at Elland Road.
The Leeds management had finally seen enough of the abysmal defence and Grayson swapped O'Brien and Connolly for Lees and Bromby. With the omission of O'Brien, the defence automatically looked more confident and organised and it was Lees, making his first team debut, who supplied a magnificent cross on 69 minutes for Ross McCormack to head home his first of the season. The little Scot worked hard up front on his own and deserved his goal.
Leeds finally then took control, something that they should have done from the first whistle. Lloyd Sam delivered a low driven teasing cross from the right only for a Bradford defender to get a toe on the ball taking the City goalkeeper out of the equation. Ramon Nunez was on hand to prod home his second of the game into the empty net. Leeds were in front for the first time.
The 3rd United goal seemed to take the stuffing out of City and from then on there only looked like one winner. Lone striker Ross McCormack seemed to be on a mission to grab another goal and had a few long range attempts palmed away by Bradford keeper Jansson.
Leeds held on and made it into the next round of the League cup, however, another extremely underwhelming performance following Southampton on Saturday has completely wiped away any false hope the great performance versus Newcastle a week and a half ago offered. Scraping past League Two Bradford is not promotion material and the longer Grayson leaves the defence untouched is quite frankly an insult to the supporters. One of the leakiest defences in the Championship last season has if anything, been weakened. Leeds face Middlesborough at Elland Road on saturday and Andy O'Brien should be dropped, Bruce and Bromby are both better defenders than him but don't seem to get a chance. You can't even blame Bates for this one, we have better options at the club already, of course this is all in my opinion. Tom Lees should also be given a chance on saturday, whether that is at right back or centre half, I believe it is time to throw him in.
A defeat on Saturday and it really is time to start worrying.
Leeds: Lonergan, Connolly (Lees 72), O'Brien (Bromby 62), Kisnorbo, Parker,, Brown, Clayton, Sam, Howson, Nunez, McCormack (Taylor 90). Subs: Rachubka, Bruce, Thompson.
Bradford: Jansson, Branston, Mitchell (Hannah 85), Threlfall, Moore, Flynn, Williams, Syers (Jones 63), Compton, Stewart (Rodney 78), J Hanson Subs: Oliver, McLaughlan, Wells, O'Brien.
Referee: C Webster