MANAGER Simon Grayson (pictured) bemoaned his side’s first half display as Leeds United left themselves with too much to do to rescue anything from Saturday’s Yorkshire derby with Barnsley, writes Tony Harber.
The Whites trailed 2-0 at the break following giveaway goals for Ricardo Vaz Te and Craig Davies and although they improved in the second half and would have snatched a point but for the thickness of the post they were made to pay the price for a sluggish display in the first 45 minutes.
Ross McCormack gave United a lifeline with a well executed free-kick and Robert Snodgrass was unlucky to see a curling shot hit the woodwork, but Barnsley keeper Luke Steele only made had two saves in the whole of the game and one of those was from his own player when he did well to keep out David Perkins’ header towards his own goal.
Home keeper Alex McCarthy, partly at fault for Davies’ goal when he could only push Jacob Butterfield’s long range strike out, was hardly overworked either in a game littered with far too many free-kicks given by over-fussy referee Graham Salisbury and the derby game was as poor as the wet and windy weather it was played in.
With cards being thrown around like confetti by the official it was no surprise that Barnsley finished with 10 men when Perkins was sent-off for a second bookable offence, but the 89th minute red card came too late to influence the match and it was a frustrated Leeds side that trudged off the pitch.
Manager Grayson put his finger on where he thought his side had gone wrong.
He said: “We weren’t at our best in the final third and gave the ball away too cheaply, allowing Barnsley to get bodies behind the ball then break on the counter attack.
“We got done with a couple of goals and gave ourselves a mountain to climb at half-time at 2-0.
“We came out in the second half, had a go and got a goal, but we just lacked that spark in the final third and that’s hugely disappointing.
“We started the game well enough, we got in their faces and we wanted to get tackles in and get the ball into wide areas, but then we just stopped doing that.
“We took too many touches. Too many individuals were taking four or five touches instead of moving the ball quickly because you need to do that to avoid the opposition getting men behind the ball.
“We were too slow in our movement and we didn’t have enough people making forward runs and getting into pockets of the pitch to cause the opposition problems.
“When you do allow teams to get men behind the ball you try to force the issue and then suddenly you get done by sucker punches, which happened today.
“When you look at the results we had at home earlier in the season we moved the ball quickly. We’ve got to learn from the games we’ve had recently, but we can’t get despondent.”
Grayson reckoned Leeds had not got what they deserved from recent home games.
He added: “If you look at the stats we’ve not won at home in four games, but we’ve not played that badly. There was nothing much in this game apart from them hitting us on the counter attack a couple of times, the Blackpool game it was mistakes, which we have put to bed, the Cardiff game we certainly should have won but for an outstanding performance by their keeper and the Coventry game we should also have won with the chances we had. So I don’t think the players are showing nerves, but it is disappointing when you go away to places like Leicester and Burnley and win.
“Home form’s not been a problem for the three years nearly I’ve been at the club. We’ve just got to make sure we do the right things and learn from our mistakes when we do lose.
“Elland Road is a demanding place, but I think the fans have been good towards the players. I don’t think players are shying away from looking for the ball, which can be a sign of nerves, but we are just not moving the ball quickly enough and allowing opposition to dictate sometimes what we should be doing to them.”
Leeds United 1
(Vaz Te 27, Davies 43)
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Leeds: McCarthy, Connolly, Kisnorbo, Lees, White, Snodgrass, Howson, Clayton, Sam (Nunez 57), McCormack (Pugh 74), Becchio (Keogh 68).
Barnsley: Steele, Hassell, Foster, McNulty, McEveley, O’Brien, Perkins (sent-off 88), Butterfield, Done (Wideman 90), Vaz Te (Drinkwater 64), Davies (Ranger 64).
Referee: Graham Salisbury