This was always going to be a match with a lot of buzz around it. League-leaders Newcastle United brought their seven-game Championship winning streak to Elland Road, where a full house (largest in over FIVE years) was waiting to bring an extra layer of difficulty to the match-up.
In the opening minutes, Leeds United were determined to press and make possession anything but easy for the visitors. Newcastle responded well though and settled quite quickly into the match with several dangerous crossing opportunities coming from Jonjo Shelvey.
A moment of class from both sets of supporters came in the 11th minute with a standing ovation to remember Leeds legend Gary Speed.
By the 20th minute, it became clear that Newcastle was going to dominate possession and create chances that would test the resolve of the Leeds back four. Leeds barely touched the ball in the first half hour.
In the 23rd minute, a moment of pure chaos from a Jack Colback lob into the box caught Leeds keeper Rob Green completely out of sorts. Instead of putting the ball behind over his crossbar, he put it in front of him with a striker oncoming. Dwight Gayle, the Championship's leading scorer with 11 coming into the match, pounced on the error and tapped in a point-blank finish to make it 1-0 for the Magpies.
Assists this season:— bet365 (@bet365) November 20, 2016
Rob Green - 1
Paul Pogba - 0
Yoan Gouffran would come close to making it 2-0 in the 27th minute for Newcastle with the Leeds players clearly still shaken from conceding such an easy goal, but he couldn’t put his shot on target.
The 30th minute saw a good ball from Kalvin Phillips come into the box where Luke Ayling came close to bringing the game level, if not for a good save from the Newcastle keeper. The corner that followed saw Phillips again bring a dangerous cross towards Pontus Jansson, who was unlucky to head the ball straight into the arms of Magpie keeper Karl Darlow.
Leeds would try to find life coming into the last ten minutes of the half with some great chances created by Taylor in particular. Wood would also cause a lot of problems with his physical play in the box. A shout for a Colback handball in the box (which looked to be legitimate) would lead to Jansson getting a yellow, meaning he will miss the next match against Rotherham due to accumulation.
First Half Positives:
The first half was not without some promising moves from Leeds, particularly from want-away left back Charlie Taylor, who was able to make some good runs down the flank that caught out Newcastle at times. Wood also showed some quality with good hold up play and dangerous runs in the box on set pieces. Leeds would end the half looking like they could hang with the Magpies and get an equalizer in the second half.
First Half Negatives:
Two words. Rob. Green.
Things have been worse though for Green, as we all know, but just for a reminder...
Never been quite sure how to feel about Vitali Kutuzov actually carrying on and scoring herehttps://t.co/FSwpU9ZNAo— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) November 20, 2016
Stat of the First Half:
67% possession for Newcastle. They looked like Barcelona out there, minus the beautiful part.
On to the second half...
Leeds would come out much more composed and effective in getting Newcastle pinned in the back.
The 49th minute saw O'Kane make a great turn in the box and he was able to let loose a beautiful shot across goal, forcing a fine save from Darlow.
Fast forward to the 54th minute, and it was a Gayle-force wind that would come back again to haunt the Leeds back four. Dwight Gayle would take his Championship tally to 13 after a fine move from the Magpies which ended with the ball in the back of the net.
Leeds would be unlucky once again in the 59th minute when a cheeky piece of play from Colback would deny Eunan O'Kane a great chance to make a run at the Magpies goal after getting the better of the Newcastle midfielder.
Ronaldo Vieira would come off for Leeds in the 62nd minute to make way for Hadi Sacko who would get involved right away. A good combo play with Souleymane Doukara just missed linking up with a good run from Kemar Roofe.
The 70th minute held another good chance for Leeds from a corner, but poor deliveries would follow as Phillips couldn’t provide good service on two corners. One short. One long. Leeds fans prayed for one in the middle next time around.
36,002 fans continued to look on as the game entered the final 15 minutes. Wood was a physical presence in the box, but without any clear-cut chances or decent services, it was always a tough ask for the Whites to score.
In the 79th minute, Gayle was finally subbed for Aleksandar Mitrovic. A sigh of relief could be heard around Elland Road.
Dwight Gayle has now scored 6 goals in his last 4 Championship games, absolutely on fire. pic.twitter.com/1FWNjFDYSw— TheODDSbible (@TheOddsBible) November 20, 2016
Another great chance for Leeds would follow in the 81st minute when Ayling sent a chip pass into the box. Subbed-on Marcus Antonsson couldn’t reach it, and Wood would find himself caught on the back heel and unable to put the ball in the back of the net. Leeds fans knew after that missed chance that this would not be their day.
The game would simmer down quite a bit in the last ten minutes as Newcastle was more than happy to take their time on set pieces and Leeds played the game out. Three minutes would be added at the end, but Newcastle cruised through added time and the game finished 0-2.
Second Half Positives:
Leeds did show some good shape at the start of the second half. Monk clearly has a side with a lot of potential and this match was always going to be a good gauge of where Leeds could potentially find themselves at the end of the season. Fans, while disappointed, should leave with a little smile knowing that the rest of the league is not Newcastle United.
The price Newcastle paid for two of their players could buy Elland Road, Thorp Arch and the current starting XI. #lufc— Matt Foster (@_mattfoster) November 20, 2016
Second Half Negatives:
A lot of missed chances would pile up and leave Leeds fans thinking of what could have been. The second Gayle goal would kill the match, but it was one that was of much higher quality than the first. Some work will have to be done on the attacking side of the ball this week for Monk as Leeds move to 7th place in the Championship, only a point off the pace for a playoff spot.
Dwight Gayle celebrates as he puts Newcastle 2-0 up against Leeds. pic.twitter.com/YrbzEgiSgw— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) November 20, 2016
Not our day, but the season isn’t lost on a match in November against a parachute-payment squad. Hope the 36,002 in attendance still enjoyed it. On to Rotherham on Saturday. MOT.