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Report: Blues Brace Sinks Sorry Whites

“A bad day in the office” as goals from Demarai Gray and Jacques Maghoma condemn Leeds United to another home defeat leaving The Whites winless at Elland Road for a staggering seven months.

Richard Sellers/Getty Images

Leeds United is a huge club with a huge fan base. Fans demand performances and results. Wearing that white shirt carries a weight of expectation which has historically broken seasoned professionals, never mind a youthful squad which shows plenty of promise but lacks the experience and mental strength to shoulder such weight.

On Saturday, those shirts looked like they were made of lead.

Historically teams would come to Elland Road and face a wall of noise. A fierce and hostile battleground, and at the centre, eleven warriors giving blood sweat and tears for the badge. There was perfect symbiosis between the two, players and supporters mutually inspiring and motivating one another. Away teams would crumble under the pressure, leaving LS11 bruised, broken and beaten.

Now the reverse is true, that wall of noise which once inspired the white shirts and intimidated the opposite eleven, now strikes fear into a young home side which is nervous, underperforming and struggling to shoulder the weight of playing for such a magnificent club. A weight that seemingly gets heavier and heavier with each winless week.

Teams now come to Elland Road without fear, knowing they will not be facing a team of battle hardened fighters. Let's face it, everybody wants to beat Leeds, and nobody rolls over there anymore. In contrast, teams you'd expect Leeds to beat arrive there and for 90 minutes they play like Real Madrid, before normal service is resumed the following week. Look at Ipswich, woeful against Reading who smashed five past them, before arriving at Leeds with a seemingly different side. Superbly organised and disciplined, worthy winners, before sinking back to normality with a 2-0 defeat at Blackburn.

Teams just don't come to Elland Road and play badly anymore. There is a stigma attached to beating "Dirty Leeds" and visiting sides raise their game accordingly.

The Championship is a very competitive league, with very fine margins between defeat and victory. This young side is brimming with pace and quality, but just lacks the organisation, compactness and cutting edge that comes with experience and confidence. And that lack of experience was exploited perfectly by Gary Rowett's side who knew exactly where the chink in the armour was, and just where to aim the spear.

Worryingly, Uwe had done his homework and watched Birmingham no fewer than three times, and spoke in the pre-match press conference about the dangers of their counter attack. He predicted a game where Leeds would have large spells of possession but to be wary of the Blues ability to hit teams on the break. The players evidently did not heed his warning, because that prophecy would come to pass.

When you're down on your luck you don't get any favours. Just last week a perfectly good goal was disallowed for offside, a decision which could well have changed the game. This week, the match officials were unmerciful and equally unforgiving.

A long ball up field on 32 minutes to Clayton Donaldson resulted in a tangle between himself and Liam Cooper. He appeared to illegally pull Cooper to the ground by his shirt before delivering the ball to Gray who smashed home brilliantly past Marco Silvestri into the roof of the Leeds United net. The whistle Cooper was expecting to hear as he lay helplessly on the grass never coming.

And so circumstance was to conspire against the Whites once more, leaving them chasing the game at home for the fourth time in succession.

They showed plenty of fight, dominating possession but with very little in the way of end product. The Blues were happy to sit deep and allow Leeds time on the ball, countering with ferocious speed whenever possession was conceded.

In fact, apart from a very weak Berardi shot in the first half, Leeds would only give Tomasz Kuszczak two real examinations in the full 90 minutes.

The first was Stuart Dallas just before the interval. Through on goal he was hoping his curling drive from six yards would find the back of the net. In contrast, it found a Birmingham goalkeeper on top of his game, diving brilliantly to his left to parry the shot past the post.

The second half saw the game becoming more stretched as Leeds pushed forwards, trying to force the equaliser. Dallas worked tirelessly on the left, whereas Will Buckley was disappointing on his debut, looking well off the pace and having minimal impact, he was replaced by Jordan Botaka before the hour mark. Antenucci was also introduced alongside Wood as Leeds threw everything forward against a Birmingham backline which was well drilled and well organised. For Leeds though, gaps were appearing. A fact which did not go un-noticed, as the Blues bided their time, like a snake waiting for the right time to strike.

Lewis Cook tested Kuszczak with a ferocious drive which he parried back into play, and within seconds the Blues fired yet another warning shot. After a lightning quick counter, Liam Cooper was forced to clear from his own goal line with Marco Silvestri well beaten.

The final nail in the coffin came a minute into injury time. A long ball forward found Jacques Maghoma on the edge of the United penalty area who was given far too much time and space. He skipped effortlessly past Byram and smashed the ball past the Leeds keeper to complete the victory.

It was the perfect away performance, effortlessly soaking up the Leeds United pressure and taking their few chances with ruthless and clinical efficiency.

By no means are Leeds United a team in crisis, not yet anyway. This is not the freefalling Blackpool of last season which lacked quality, direction and the support of their fans. This is a highly capable side with a great leader, which, with a few wins under their belt can tear even the very best sides apart. One thing is for sure, that imperious first half display at Derby County seems like a lifetime ago. This is a confidence crisis which needs to be addressed, and quickly, for it currently strangles the team and threatens a season which is slipping away slowly week by week.

Uwe has two weeks now to marshal his troops before the visit of table toppers Brighton. The Seagulls are undefeated in the league so far and Leeds will have to raise their game significantly if they are to compete. If they don't, they could well be put to the sword by a Brighton side who are currently scoring at will.

That first home win has got to come soon, the last time Leeds failed to win any of their first five home games was over sixty five years ago.

Leeds can still turn this season around. But with the fans and particularly the owner not renowned for their patience, they need to do it sooner rather than later.