So, we have points! Or, to be more correct, we have a point!
Chris Wood’s overhead kick in the third minute of injury time saved our bacon and ensured that Leeds United are on the board in season 2016-17. This means we can forget about the questionable start to the season, right??? Maybe not, but we are now off and running for the new campaign. Baby steps, people!
Garry Monk made a statement to his floundering side heading into Tuesday’s contest, dropping captain Sol Bamba to the bench, while also rotating out Ronaldo Vieira, Alex Mowatt and Hadi Sacko. Before we dive into what happened at the glorious Elland Road, here are the full highlights for your viewing pleasure.
Leeds United 1 v 1 Fulham #LUFC由 We Are Leeds MOT 貼上了 2016年8月16日
So what to make of all that? The first half was littered with great chances for both sides, but questionable finishing kept the match scoreless after 45 minutes. A calamity of Fulham errors in midfield gave Marcus Antonsson the best United opportunity of the opening half, as he quickly advanced towards Cottagers shot stopper David Button. But the Swede butchered his one-on-one opportunity, rolling the football wide of the uprights.
Then, in the aftermath of Antonsson’s squandered moment, United were handed a lifeline of their own. We should all be thanking the Elland Road goal posts, repeatedly, for this point. Sone Aluko was at the end of a gorgeous Fulham move, launching his strike past Robert Green and into the inside of the post. Luckily, the ball bounced out and United cleared the ball in desperation.
The defensive MVP of the season so far has to be the defensive woodwork of Green. If only our new keeper could harness some of this good fortune...
Leeds United saves this season:— bet365 (@bet365) August 16, 2016
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Rob Green - 4 pic.twitter.com/tu6oYwpfHd
Fulham continued to press after the break, with Matt Smith taking another coat of varnish from the woodwork as his aggressive header beat Green, but cannoned back off the post.
Despite the best efforts of Kemar Roofe and Pablo Hernandez, United began to get outworked in the second half. Possession continues to be a problem within the midfield for Leeds, with Fulham being the latest opponent to dominate the statistic, 57% to 43% in this match.
All that Fulham control paid off in the 77th minute when former United youth prospect, Tom Cairney, put Fulham in front. A former Leeds squad member making us pay; boy does that sound familiar!
All jokes aside, his was a juicy finish. Cutting inside the penalty area to curl an impossibly awesome strike past Green and his wooden friends. Not much to complain about with conceding a goal like this.
But here’s the funny thing: after the Fulham goal went in, United looked much better. Going behind seemed to focus the squad and, for 15 minutes, we functioned like a dominant football side. More possession and a focused effort culminated in Wood’s stoppage time equaliser and the first real celebration of the season.
I’ll admit I have a strong love-hate-love-hate relationship with Wood. In a manner that only the big Kiwi can pull off, he missed a number of easier chances against Fulham, only to bang home the most difficult one of all in the dying moments.
Every time Wood pushes the boundaries of my fandom, he does something flashy to make me come groveling back. Or, in the words of the great Harry Dunne, he goes and totally redeems himself at the most unlikely of times!
Actually, watching the cast of Dumb and Dumber try to execute a high five sums up the first 10 days of Leeds United football for me. There are good intentions from the top down, finally, but execution has been outdone by comedic value.
My faith in Monk remains, and the most promising aspect of his reign so far has been his response to the tough start. His post match interview on Saturday was inspiring in the face of an insipid performance from his playing group. The same can be said for his post-mortem of Tuesday’s performance, an improved outing but one that still leaves us wanting more.
Just a quick note to finish off, the three sides we’ve played are all undefeated. We are only six points off top spot with 43 games remaining.
We’re gonna be alright; my glass is very much half full right now.
Safe to say that Monk's style isn't really showing itself yet but we've hardly kicked a ball under him. Short term just needs some impetus.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) August 16, 2016
Now, there's no rest for the winless Whites, with a trip to Sheffield Wednesday on the docket for Saturday. We'll have preview content ahead of that game for you the rest of this week.
What did you think of Tuesday’s match? Were you thrilled to get the season’s first point? Have you changed your opinion of Monk because of Wood’s late goal? Are the play-offs already out of reach? Let us know in the comments! Thanks for reading, see you back here for coverage of Leeds United vs. Sheffield Wednesday. #MOT.