Tag Archives: local derby

Cruel Crufts Jibes Still Dog Huddersfield After Savage Leeds Mauling – by Rob Atkinson

Luke Ayling

Best of breed Luke Ayling shows his bite is better than his bark

Whoever scheduled an away game for Huddersfield Town at Leeds United on the very same date as the Crufts final day at Birmingham’s NEC must have had it in for the Terriers, who were exposed not only to a football lesson from Yorkshire’s Number One, but also to dog-related chants and (for want of a better word) catcalls from a jubilant home crowd as Elland Road celebrated another derby day success. It was bad enough, surely, for the away following to see their team so comprehensively outclassed, without having to listen to various canine-centric chants from the South Stand especially. Suffice to say that the Huddersfield faithful were hounded relentlessly by their United counterparts on a day when their own manager declared that top dogs Leeds are the best team in the Championship by a country mile. It was a combination of circumstances that conspired to leave each and every travelling Terrier with a hangdog expression and straining at the leash to get back home again.

On the field as well as off, there was only one side in it from the first whistle. Leeds were into their stride early on, surging forward powerfully and fluently and, when Luke Ayling smashed home a wondrous volley in off the bar which left the Huddersfield woodwork reverberating for the rest of the half, you suspected that the game was already up for the dogged but outmatched visitors.

Leeds were not at their best, rarely hitting the heights of that masterful second half display at Hull City, but what they were able to offer was far too good for Huddersfield. Leading one-nil at half time, they were even more in charge during a second half that saw them add another early goal, this time Patrick Bamford tapping in from close range after Town keeper Jonas Lossl made a fantastic save from Ben White‘s towering header. There was plenty of pressure still to come from the home side, who relied on some frantic last-ditch defending to prevent United adding more goals, with Jack Harrison particularly unlucky to be denied, yet again, by the frame of the goal, after his shimmering, jinking run and turn gave him the room to strike a great shot high against the far post.

It seems churlish to point out that things could have gone better for United in this game, when events elsewhere would seem to be unfolding precisely as any Leeds fan could wish. We can only hope for more of the same, as both West Brom and Fulham have been merrily dropping points during United’s run of five consecutive clean-sheet wins. From this point in, it would appear that the only thing Leeds United have to fear, with the possible exception of the Coronavirus, is fear itself. But a head of steam has been built up these past few weeks, together with a nice little seven point cushion between our favourites and Fulham in third, and any of the other teams in the Championship, without exception, would happily trade places with United right now.

The next week or so up until close of business next Wednesday evening should provide further insight into the potential fates of all three main automatic promotion contenders, with Fulham facing Brentford ahead of a pivotal clash at Elland Road in nine days time. Leeds face Cardiff away ahead of the Fulham summit, so that’s two tricky hurdles with no certainty that our dead-legged talisman Kalvin Phillips will be available. But the momentum that has been gathering over recent matches – causing even ex-manager Colin to use the word “unstoppable” about Marcelo Bielsa‘s Leeds – could well be enough to see United consolidate their position as overwhelming favourites finally to ascend to the Promised Land of the Premier League in this Centenary Year. Now, wouldn’t that be just perfect.

Marching On Together 

Prolific Morison Condemns Wednesday to Cup Final Defeat as Leeds Rule – by Rob Atkinson

Steve Morison - prolific

Steve Morison – prolific

Poor Sheffield Wednesday. And, make no mistake, they were poor. Insipid in build-up, impotent in front of goal – in the end, Leeds United could and perhaps should have won by more. But it would be churlish to criticise a team that comes from a goal down at half-time in a derby match – especially against opponents who traditionally regards every game against Leeds as their cup final. This is even more the case when you consider United’s recent off-the-field troubles – although, let’s face it, trouble’s as near to normality as the Whites ever get.

It’s two in a row now for United striker Steve Morison, who kept his cool to score the winner after his initial shot had been saved by Kieran Westwood in the home goal. Earlier in the second half, young Charlie Taylor had popped up in the right place at the right time to slot the equaliser home after a free kick on the edge of the area had the ball pinging about near goal. All this after the sub-par Wendies had gone in at half time leading through a disputed penalty. United manager Neil Redfearn was frank enough afterwards to admit he thought the ref had called it right. Easy to be magnanimous in victory, you might say – but in reality, so few ever are. Credit to Redders.

That two in two accolade for Morison loses a little of its lustre when you reflect that it could equally be interpreted as two goals in two years. But the big striker has played his part when given the chance this season, in a team that has struggled more often than not. You get the feeling with Morison that, in a team that plays to his strengths at this level, he’d still be a real handful. If he’s still in the white shirt next time around, we might just see much more in the way of fireworks from a much-maligned but still dangerous striker.

As for Wednesday – sadly for their fans (but comically for the rest of us), they’ve let down those supporters who turned up in numbers today for the match that means more to them than any other Championship fixture. In the end, it was just shy of 4,000 cock-a-hoop away supporters out of a crowd of over 28,000 who left Hillsborough raucously satisfied as the glum Wendies trooped sadly home.

It would take a lot to erase the memory of last season’s bitter Hillsborough experience, but Leeds made a start on that process of redemption with this much-improved performance. It’s always good to put South Yorkshire upstarts in their place and, as things stand right now, it may be that Leeds are destined to hammer home the final nail in Rotherham‘s Championship coffin next time out. If that proves to be the case, then Yorkshire’s least civilised quarter will have provided an upbeat end to what in truth has been another dismal season for Leeds.

For the moment, the glum look on the faces of those depressed Wendy fans at their Cup Final defeat is enough to bring a smile for even the most depressed United fan – together with some sort of hope for better things next season. Well, that’s what Massimo Cellino is promising us, and he’s bound to be sincere. Anyone remember the promises he made last season…?