Neil Warnock saw his Leeds side give their all in his first home game in charge of the Elland Road club. Table topping Southampton were the visitors as Leeds looked to make up some ground on the sides occupying the play off positions in the Championship. Warnock made just one change to his side as the injured Alex Bruce made way for Leigh Bromby, however it wasn't long before the curse of the right back position struck once again when Bromby himself had to depart through injury. It was Paul Connolly who got his chance from the bench in place of Bromby, the former Derby full back made his first appearance since the disappointing 4-1 defeat away to Barnsley on New Years Eve.
The substitution came after the visitors had taken the lead and it was well taken from the Championship's top scorer, Rickie Lambert. The goal was a result of Southampton's first attack of the game when Tadanari Lee headed across to Lambert who promptly smashed the ball past Andy Lonergan with a powerful volley inside the penalty area. The goal came against the run of play though and United could have taken the lead when the ball fell to Adam Clayton inside the box. Unfortunately for Leeds, Clayton didn't quite have Lambert's prowess and his deflected volley was easy for match winner Kelvin Davis in the Southampton net. Despite Southampton's opener, Leeds' early dominance was not to be weakened and they continued to take the game to the promotion chasers as captain Robert Snodgrass was the first to miss the target after some good work by Aidan White down the right. The next chance fell to United top scorer Ross McCormack but the front man saw his half volley flash just wide of Davis' goal.
With half time fast approaching, United deserved to go in level but Argentinian goal-getter Luciano Becchio was the next to be denied after he met a terrific cross from McCormack but Davis was again equal to the effort. Leeds deserved to go in at the break on level terms but it wasn't to be and Southampton's only attack of the game meant they were leading at the interval. The Whites didn't really want to see half time but the second half didn't result in any change to the proceedings as United continued to dominate and Becchio wasn't far away from leveling the scores when he guided Snodgrass' cross just over the bar. It was Becchio once again who had the Elland Road faithful on the edge of their seats when he tried to force the ball home but Davis was not to be beaten as he twice denied Becchio, scrambling back to his line to deny the former Barcelona man.
Danny Webber replaced the injured Aidan White on the right hand side of United's attack and looked lively to say he hasn't had a club all season. It wasn't long before the former Sheffield United and Portsmouth man was denied by Kelvin Davis though after good link up play with Becchio saw Webber denied. The Revie Stand were doing their best to suck the ball into the net but Davis wasn't having any of it as he once again denied debut man Danny Webber. It was a decent effort from Webber as he struck the ball from just outside the box but it wasn't enough to get the better of Kelvin Davis as the home side continued to do everything but score.
With time running out, Lloyd Sam replaced Michael Brown as Warnock went all out attack on Southampton. Brown had a good game for United but unfortunately his hard work couldn't help to conjure up a goal for the home side. Anyone would have thought that United were the side sitting pretty at the top of the league as the visitors just couldn't get into the game and rarely offered anything going forward. Webber missed a real golden opportunity when some poor defending from Southampton went unpunished when Danny Webber sent his shot wide just yards away from the goal line. There was still time for the most unbelievable goal line scramble I have ever witnessed when a United Corner was guided on to the bar, only for the follow up to also hit the bar. Southampton's defence were scrambling to get the ball away and they eventually did so, much to the disbelief of the 20,000 watching spectators.
Southampton got all three points amazingly and if they are to go up, results like this will go a long way to clinching promotion. Kelvin Davis made some match winning saves but ultimately United were very wasteful in front of goal and a bit of quality in front of goal would have seen Leeds record all three points. Nevertheless it was a great performance from Leeds tonight which was very encouraging and it was arguably the best performance at Elland Road all season. Unfortunately the defeat means that the play offs are pretty much impossible now but if we play like we did tonight in the rest of our remaining fixtures then you just never know. One thing is for sure, if Warnock is in charge next season then I think Leeds will be a completely different prospect or am I just getting carried away?
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