Match report by Matthew Wright:
League cup Quarter final day, away at League heavyweights Leeds City.
We went into the game frustrated by a 4-week layoff with no fixture, only to return to 3 games in 7 days. Prior to this, we were in fine form and since the new year we were scoring plenty and conceding little, which is a testament to the group I’ve got together.
We started the game brightly and forced an early opportunity through leading Scorer James Finlayson. Jinky, as he is known remained honest in the box despite been clipped from behind but the chance came to nothing. Leeds remained a threat with the ball through the big man up front who was a great out ball for them and held up play superbly. As they do, they created 2 opportunities in the half but to our credit, we restricted them to this only. Lee Wood in goals made an exceptional save low down to his left with one of the chances that were presented to Leeds. The other on the 38th minute again was saved well by Woody but unfortunately parried from close range into our CB who helped it into the goal. Luck was against us then, massively but in fairness, despite a real bright 20 minutes we were really poor in possession of the ball and played with little energy.
At half time I put across my feelings to the group and made it known that in no uncertain terms that we were playing well within ourselves. I asked for a reaction and for us to play with more purpose and determination.
The second half, we were much better. We created numerous chances and played with more energy and bite, putting Leeds under pressure to keep the ball out of their goal. Jinky came close with a free kick in the 55th minute, which was inches away from nestling into the goal. As we had established ourselves a little bit more I made a tactical change in personnel in replacing John Tunney and Pride Chikosha with Danny Bridges and Alex Haigh. This gave us some more purpose and after a great phase of possession, we found Alex in the box 1v1, who rolled it for Danny Bridges to tap home, only for it narrowly to miss the target. In Danny’s defence it was his first game back in over 2 months and the sharpness I expect from him just wasn’t quite there due to this. Never the less he was making great runs in behind and we were attacking with more purpose. Leeds though, ever the threat scored a second as our clearance was hit onto our own player to fall into the path of the Leeds forward to fire home, 2-0. This deflated us somewhat but we did keep pushing and create a couple of chances, Lewis Richardson came close with a volley cleared off the line after 80 minutes.
The game finished 2-0 and put us out of contention for silverware this season. I was happy with the response but felt our first half display didn’t give us the foundation to push on and win the game.
After a 4 week layoff and now another 2, I feel our momentum has really been hit and it’s now a case of what could have been this season. Since the new year, we have been on a good run, playing some beautiful stuff with a really effective game plan. Unfortunately, due to fixture issues from the league, we find ourselves in an unfortunate place, despite having no reason for the layoff.
Football is about momentum, Positive or Negative and layoffs can have an adverse effect on you in an appositive phase of the season. The challenge for the season close is to win as many points as we can and finish with a smile. I’m very lucky to have such quality at my disposal.
Well done to Leeds, they play with a lot of control on the ball and in the cold light of day were more clinical in both boxes.