The weather was awful in Birmingham and the game overall was poor, neither team could really play good football. However, the clinical finishing of Leeds United made the difference. The performance wasn’t the best, but what we saw at St. Andrews was the signs of a top team who, after being 2nd best throughout the whole game, could still walk away with the win by a score of 3-1.
The gap between us and 7th place Fulham (prior to their game today) is now 11 points and, regardless of how the lads played, that’s the most important thing we need to take away from last night’s victory.
But let’s have a look at the three main talking points as Leeds United get to 64 points and our highest points total in the last six years...
Talking point 1: The Brilliance of Bartley
Some of the players did struggle last night: Pontus Jansson looked a little off, but everyone has a difficult shift at work and last night was Jansson’s. However, it didn’t matter because the other half of Bartsson was brilliant all night. He didn’t put a foot wrong all game and was constantly organising those who were struggling inside a wet and miserable St. Andrew’s. Chris Wood made the difference with the goal, but without the leadership and experience of Bartley the result would have been completely different.
The relationship between friends Bartley and Ayling seems to be paying dividends on the pitch. All I hope is that these men are side-by-side next season as well. Ayling’s pass was unbelievable for the first Wood goal and both men appeared to be in complete sync with each other.
Talking point 2: Chris Wood is Superman
Last week, Jack Dudley talked about Chris Wood’s importance in front of goal and his ability to nick the points, and he once again showed that last night. Wood reminded me of Superman during the game: he was just another man in the crowd and, when called upon, he was there to score, save us and stun the Birmingham players.
The movement of Wood has always impressed me. Every time in the box he always find that pocket of space and now he finishes with real quality too. On the first goal, he peeled off the defender with real ease, and for the second goal, he got himself in the position to slot the ball past the Birmingham goal-keeper.
He also deserves credit for his defensive responsibilities, especially when in the last 15 minutes he defended and supported his fellow team members in closing down the Birmingham players.
Talking point 3: Quantity over Quality
The most important takeaway from the game is the fact we once again took points away from home in difficult circumstances. Places like St. Andrews, Portman Road and Ewood Park have been difficult for Leeds in the last few weeks but we’ve taken points out of 3 games.
For how much I love to see real quality, that love disappears into insignificance if it comes without results. This team can win games convincingly and also perform wonderful smash and grabs throughout the season, and now we’re on the cusp of achieving what we all felt might have been unachievable as recently as September 2016.
Leeds didn’t play well at all but scored three goals to take the three points back up the M1. If Leeds play like this in every game in March but win in that same manner, I, like most Leeds fans, will not be complaining with the 12 points and a sure top-six finish.
Overall, the result showed how far this Leeds side have come since last season. Even though we were second best throughout the 90 minutes, I never felt at any stage we were going to lose the game. The heart of this Leeds squad means teams must be unbelievable to take the points off the Whites, and for me there are not many teams who can accomplish that in the 11 games that remain. MOT.