|Leeds United 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 15th December 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Leeds 2-0 Town
Saturday, 15th Dec 2012 17:06
Town’s run of victories was halted at three as goals from Jerome Thomas and Paul Green saw Leeds to a 2-0 win at Elland Road. The home side had the better of the first half with Thomas’s backheel giving them the lead at the break. The Blues dominated possession for much of the second period but were unable to get on terms before Green added the second.
As expected, boss Mick McCarthy named an unchanged side with Nigel Reo-Coker, back after a hamstring injury, on the bench.
New signing Tyrone Mings was in the 21-man travelling party but didn’t make the final 18. The Leeds line-up included former Town skipper David Norris.
After a scrappy start, the first chance of the game fell to the home side in the eighth minute. Paul Green headed the ball on to El-Hadji Diouf on the edge of the area but Stephen Henderson came off his line quickly to block the Senegalese international’s attempt on goal with what appeared to be his head.
Aaron Cresswell blazed the Blues’ first strike of the game well over with his right foot from 20 yards on 11, however, the half-chance had come from a decent move down the left involving Cresswell, DJ Campbell and Lee Martin with Carlos Edwards just unable to get in a shot from a more promising position inside the area.
Just after the quarter hour, Town were unable to clear a high ball into the box and, after a spot of head tennis, Diouf headed weakly to Henderson.
Two minutes later, Diouf cleverly chipped the ball into the area from the right, Bradley Orr hammering behind for a corner from the edge of the six-yard box.
From the flagkick the Whites went in front. Diouf sent the ball in from the right, Tom Lees headed goalwards and Jerome Thomas diverted it past Henderson and into the net for the first goal of his loan spell from West Brom.
It might have been 2-0 in the 23rd minute when Michael Tonge’s cross was deflected into the air and David Norris headed towards goal, but fortunately for Town Cresswell was on hand to clear off the line.
The home side were causing the Blues more problems at the back than most sides in recent weeks, Diouf the main danger, while at the other end Town had had one or two promising breaks but so far without creating any significant opportunities.
On 31 Martin saw a strike blocked, then a minute later the former Manchester United man hit another shot from distance which deflected wide.
Town were becoming more of a threat, an Edwards cross from the right causing Lees to head only just over his bar for the latest in a succession of Blues corners. However, having hit the defender with his first, Martin’s next two in from the left were too deep.
The winger had the ball in the net in the 39th minute but with Campbell having strayed offside before he had cut it back from the right.
Town were very fortunate not to be two behind two minutes later when Sam Byram crossed from the right and an entirely unmarked Luciano Becchio somehow headed over when he had the time to pick his spot 10 yards out.
But the Blues had had the better of it during the latter stages of the period and in the 44th minute Edwards flashed a shot across the face of goal which Kenny did well to divert behind.
Town were probably fortunate only to be a goal down at the break, Becchio having missed a golden opportunity to increase his side’s lead, while Cresswell’s clearance off the line was another escape.
Nevertheless, with the home side having had the better of it early on, the Blues had come into it more as the half wore on - although having failed create many chances or make enough of their set pieces - and might have found themselves on terms as they made their way down the tunnel.
Blues keeper Henderson was forced into action early on in the second half, the Irishman superbly getting across to his left to push away Becchio’s header from Diouf’s cross from the right. The former Liverpool man’s wayward rebound troubled only those towards the back of the stand behind the goal.
Town though gradually began to get on top, Murphy seeing a strike blocked, then Orr shooting wide having got forward from right-back.
By the hour mark the Blues were dominating the game, keeping the ball for long spells but without creating the opportunity which would put them back on terms. On 62 McCarthy swapped DJ Campbell for Michael Chopra.
Town continued to have most of the ball without threatening to score, but in the 68th minute Leeds increased their lead. Ex-Blue Norris played a pass to Thomas to his left, the winger cutting the ball across the area to Green, who slammed it past Henderson as he broke into the area.
It was a classic sucker punch with the Blues having been on top for virtually the whole of the half but having been unable to seriously threaten in front of goal. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas took over from Murphy in the 73rd minute.
The substitute sent Martin away on goal in the 78th minute with a superb pass but Byram got back and the winger went to ground on the edge of the box, referee Oliver Langford indicating no foul and the Town players making surprisingly little protest.
On 80 Martin forced Kenny to block a strike from the right, then from the corner Emmanuel-Thomas headed straight to the Whites keeper.
Town should have pulled a goal back in the 83rd minute when Martin cut in from the right. The ball ran away from him inside the area but fell to Chopra, who seemed destined to score, but hit his shot straight at Kenny.
Elliott Hewitt replaced Orr at right-back as the game moved into its final four minutes, then with normal time running down Henderson was out quickly to claim at the feet of Becchio from McCormack’s flick.
There was to be no dramatic Blues comeback in the closing stages and overall Leeds deserved their win.
Despite controlling much of the second half, the Blues had created few chances before Green had netted the home side’s second goal on the break.
Town had chances after that but Martin and Chopra spurned opportunities to reduce the lead and set up a tense end to the game. Leeds supporters will feel their team ought to have won more comfortably with Becchio in particular profligate in front of goal.
The result sees the Blues stay fifth from bottom, five points from the relegation zone – with Sheffield Wednesday beating Barnsley 1-0 in the evening game – and with what appears to be a winnable home game against Bristol City next week.
Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Peltier, Lees, Tate, Green, Tonge, Norris, Thomas(Brown 85), Becchio (Varney 90), Diouf (McCormack 82). Unused: Ashdown, Pearce, White, Hall.
Town: Henderson, Orr (Hewitt 85), Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, N'Daw, Drury, Martin, Murphy (Emmanuel-Thomas 73), Campbell (Chopra 62). Unused: Loach, Hewitt, Higginbotham, Reo-Coker, Mohsni. Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands). Att: 19,185.
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