LEEDS United are still waiting for their first goal and first win since Neil Warnock officially took over as manager, but no-one at Elland Road on Saturday evening could work out how neither occurred as the White hammered top of the table Southampton in every way except the final score, writes Tony Harber.
Ultimately United were made to pay for one piece of slack defending in the 16th minute when they left Rickie Lambert unmarked in the box to volley home his usual goal against Leeds.
It was the Saints’ only effort on goal in the whole of the first half and they only managed three shots on target all game as they were outplayed by a pumped up home side roared on by a passionate crowd at a rocking Elland Road.
Lucky Southampton could maybe tell it was their night from the fourth minute when defender Jose Fonte got away with a blatant handball to stop Robert Snodgrass’s goalbound shot.
It was the first of several mistakes by awful referee Nigel Miller and had new boss Neil Warnock jumping up and down on the sidelines. The injustice was added to by the visitors scoring from their only attack of the first half while Leeds piled forward and missed several chances to take a healthy lead in at the break.
Adam Clayton and Luciano Becchio saw efforts saved by Saints man of the match Kelvin Davis, Ross McCormack was inches away with a fine strike, Robert Snodgrass sent a volley over and fired in another cross-shot that just eluded Aidan White at the far post.
Southampton boss Nigel Adkins made two changes at the break to show much he knew his side had been outplayed, but the second half followed a similar pattern with only desperate defending and poor finishing preventing United from running up a cricket score.
Becchio missed out on a hat-trick with two shots wide and one effort somehow saved by Davis after a goal looked certain. McCormack sent a header wide when well placed and substitute Danny Webber could not believe he had not marked his otherwise impressive debut with a goal.
The pacy Webber saw two efforts in a minute well saved by Davis then somehow missed from close range after taking the ball off former Leeds defender Frazer Richardson in the six-yard box.
Lambert did force home keeper Andy Lonergan to make his first two saves of the game, but it was United doing the pressing again in a rousing finale.
However, everyone knew it was not Leeds’ night when Snodgrass and Darren O’Dea both sent headers crashing against the crossbar and Tom Lees’ follow-up shot was deflected wide.
Southampton held out to stay top of the Npower Championship, but a more fortunate three points they will not get all season.
In defeat there was plenty of encouragement for United as the performance really stirred the fans and left many saying it was their best all-round display of the season at Elland Road.
Leeds United 0
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Leeds: Lonergan, Bromby (Connolly 24), Lees, O’Dea, Pugh, White (Webber 56), Clayton, Brown (Sam 73), Snodgrass, McCormack, Becchio.
Southampton: Davis, Richardson, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox (Harding 58), Cork, Schneiderlin, Chaplow, Puncheon (Hammond 45), Lee (Do Prado 45), Lambert.
Referee: Nigel Miller