90 minutes of frustration, a moment of pure joy, a weekend of sweet relief.
Leeds United robbed Newcastle at St. James’ Park on Friday night, as the Magpies dominated the statistics, but their fans left with a 1-1 draw thanks to some injury time magic from Pablo, Kemar, and Chris. Leeds supporters, especially the away support, will feel like that one was a win... and for more reasons than the single point in the table.
Let’s take a look at why. Here are the three takeaways from last night’s win, er, draw at Newcastle...
Talking Point 1: Leeds defend with the best
Does anyone remember the defence from the 2015/16 season? About all I remember from last year, aside from Steve Evans of course, was the error-prone back four, giving away goals and games that we had no business losing. Bamba, Bellusci, Wootton... let’s never mention them again.
Because this side, as we’ve been saying all year, defends with the best in the Championship. For 90 minutes, they took a relentless Newcastle attack and held it to just one goal.
19 corners! Hahahaha. Comparing Newcastle to Reading is mean to Newcastle, corners are a more telling stat than possession, but the only stat that matters is the scoreline, and while Newcastle dominated the game in every other facet, our defence was up to the challenge, holding them to a single goal.
May Pontus and Kyle, Luke and Gaetano, be remembered forever, regardless of what happens in May (though promotion would certainly solidify their legacy).
The only negative was Pontus picking up yet another yellow. He has 14 on the season, and is one away from a three match ban. Can he stay clean for four more games? Going to be interesting/terrifying to watch.
Talking Point 2: Chris Wood is Chris Wood
Because the defence was so strong, because the back four, Bridcutt and Phillips, and Rob Green were on their toes all night long, Leeds took a one-goal deficit into five minutes of injury time.
And that’s all Chris Wood needed.
Pablo, to Kemar, to Chris “Man-of-25-Goals” Wood. We argued after the win against Preston that Leeds’ offence wasn’t a one-man threat, that Roofe, Hernandez, and Doukara could all score too. Well, when we need it, Chris Wood is the one man we can count on, and he came through again.
Chris Wood is having the best season of his career; hopefully he gets a chance to ply his trade in the Premier League next season... after a play-off promotion with Leeds of course.
Talking Point 3: Play-offs or bust
If we weren’t sure before, the draw at St. James’ Park eliminated the possibility of automatic promotion. With four games left in the season, Leeds United sits 12 points behind Newcastle in second and a whopping 23 goals behind in goal differential. The Whites win all four and the Magpies lose all four, and we’d still require a miracle to make the top two.
So to that end, for Leeds, it’s play-offs or bust. There will be five teams vying for the four spots: third place Huddersfield have 77 points (and a game in hand) and still have top two dreams, but will likely finish in 3rd-6th. Leeds and Reading both have 73 points (Reading with a game in hand), and Sheffield Wednesday has 72 points after 42 games to finish out the top six.
Looming in seventh, just TWO points out of the top six, is Fulham, with 70 points and a goal differential somehow better than anyone currently in the play-off spots.
With 8th place Derby County now 10 points back of 6th, this is clearly a five horse race.
So who will be left out?
It looks good for Leeds: games against Wolves, Burton, and Wigan all feature teams in the bottom half of the table, with only Norwich in the top half.
But nothing will be secure until one of the clubs drops back... let’s hope it’s not us.
So we’ve got some big fixtures ahead, but we all knew that multiple wins in April would be necessary, and one point is better than zero. This was a vintage “Garry Monk at Leeds” performance: defend, fight, score at the end... and I’ll take it. Much better than a 1-0 loss, for reasons beyond the single point.
Not long to wait to see how it affects the lads either: we’re back at it on Monday with Wolves at 3pm. MOT