LEEDS United missed another chance to climb into the top three when they had to settle for a draw against Cardiff, but were unlucky not to have collected all three points from Sunday’s Npower Championship games, writes Tony Harber.
Manager Simon Grayson felt his side had done everything but beat the Welsh side for the first time since 1984 and he was right as the Cardiff hoodoo struck again with the Whites managing 21 efforts on goal to their opponents’ seven and only some great goalkeeping, amazing defensive blocks and poor finishing allowing the visitors to escape without a hammering.
There was more than a hint of controversy about Cardiff’s goal as well as there looked to be a foul in the build-up, but after six straight defeats to the Welsh men at least there was a point to cling to for Leeds thanks to Robert Snodgrass’s 73rd minute equaliser and manager Grayson was able to see the positives.
He said: “We said to the players at half-time we needed to lift the tempo with and without the ball. We needed to get around them a little bit quicker, pass the ball quicker and we did that. If it hadn`t been for their goalkeeper we would have won the game.
“I said it the other night. We will play worse than that and win games and it was the same case again.
“When you look at the chances we created and the number of top saves their keeper made, we can feel unfortunate not to win the game.
“For their goal Darren should have probably cleared it, but he got nudged in the back and it put him off his stride.
“He got a knock on the head in the last five minutes against Birmingham, suffered a bit of dizziness, declared himself fit yesterday after training, but got a bang on it in the first part of the first half.
“He had a lack of vision down one side and a bit of blurriness as well so he’s got concussion. I think it probably did affect him leading up to the goal. He got a little nudge, he knows he maybe should have cleared it and that was something that maybe contributed to it.”
United started brightly, but Cardiff got the first shot in when Aron Gunnarsson’s low shot from 20 yards was well saved by Paul Rachubka.
Leeds responded as Tom Lees sent a header goalwards from a corner only for the first of the Cardiff blocks to keep the ball out. Andy Keogh’s smart low cross was well gathered by Cardiff keeper David Marshall with Ross McCormack challenging and Keogh saw his header from a Snodgrass free-kick saved by Marshall.
When Cardiff opened the scoring it came out of the blue as Joe Mason chased a long ball forward. Home defender Darren O’Dea had it covered only to be nudged by the forearm of the City striker and to over-run the ball, allowing Mason to round Rachubka to score.
The action was soon at the other end with Marshall saving low down from a Snodgrass header. Tom Lees sent a header onto the top of the net and McCormack and Jonny Howson had efforts blocked as the half ended with Cardiff one ahead.
If Leeds had just shaded the first half, they completely dominated the second and could not believe their luck as Marshall pulled out top drawer saves to deny Snodgrass, McCormack, Adam Clayton and Howson, whose downward header had looked a goal all over.
A goal did finally come after 73 minutes when Lees headed on a free-kick and the outstretched boot of Snodgrass finally beat the in-form City keeper.
United pushed for a winner, but could not come up with it as McCormack pulled a shot wide from the edge of the box and Lees glanced a header wide.
Leeds United 1
Cardiff City 1
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Leeds: Rachubka, Connolly, Lees, O’Dea (Kisnorbo 32), White, Snodgrass, Clayton, Howson, Pugh (Sam 78), McCormack, Keogh (Becchio 55).
Cardiff: Marshall, McNaughton, Turner, Hudson, Taylor, Cowie, Gunnarsson, McPhail, Whittingham, Conway (Kiss 62), Mason (Miller 70).
Referee: Phil Dowd.