1/10/16, Elland Road, Leeds
Off the back of 2 defeats, and with our captain injured, you’d forgive my apprehension towards a Yorkshire derby with the biggest (and everyone’s) enemy in the county. Leeds United may not be the power house they once were, but those feelings of local hatred do not go away, and much like the animosity towards Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds are hated by all those who do not support them.
However, only 2 places separated our sides, with Garry Monk’s men coming into our match following 3 straight defeats, most recently to surprise package Bristol City, in 9th. Perhaps this wouldn’t be straight forward at all?
With Conor Hourihane out, Josh Scowen, Tom Davies and Sam Morsy would complete my midfield trio. It would be tough without the captain, but with defender Marc Roberts taking the armband, we would give it our all, as would Leeds.
But it would be us who would benefit from early Leeds lapses in concentration, as our on the day Captain Marc Roberts gave us the lead in the 7th minute from a corner routine!
It would get better 10 minutes later, as a Leeds United corner failed at the first hurdle, and a Barnsley counter resulted in the Tykes going 2-0 up in the first 17 minutes! Incredible, and indeed, I went wild running around the room (sorry on the side lines…keep the realism). Stuart Dallas would grab a goal back for Leeds on the 40th, but a strong performance in the second half would limit their chances to come back into the game, and on the full time whistle, it would incredibly be Barnsley FC who would be picking up the points, bringing us to 14th, and Leeds down to 16th.
What a result. And what a boost. Surely nothing could go wrong…right?
It’s all about quality
Two homes games followed to Leeds match, Fulham and Newcastle. Ok. We can do that…Oh…you want to take another one of my defensive midfielders away? Cheers mate. Sam Morsy would play no part in the Fulham or Newcastle game, but a returning Conor Hourihane would make the latter. Marcus Maddison, the winger bought to replace Watkins, was also on the mend, and back albeit on the bench.Just such a shame that Fulham and Newcastle are…well…Fulham and Newcastle.
When we are breaking the bank to bring in Spearing and Maddison for £800k, Newcastle and Fulham are spending millions on one player. It’s hardly fair, and it’s this quality that makes our fight in the top flight difficult, but also remarkable considering our mid table position. With a lack of depth in midfield, youth player James Carvell would make the starting XI, replacing Morsy but playing as a DLP. I’m quite happy to throw the youngsters in, and give them game time, you never know what will happen!
But, the Fulham game would be frustrating, as for large parts we were by far the better team. In fact, the deadlock would only be broken with an own goal from our keeper Adam Davies, whose attempt to catch a cross from Madl, the Fulham right back resulted in him parrying the ball into his own net. Bloody typical. We fought to get something out of the game, but an absolute peach of a goal from (FM14 Stoke City legend, honestly, the guy was unstoppable for me) Tom Cairney on the 92nd minute saw us die a death. 2-0.
Even more frustrating would be Newcastle, who clearly felt complacent against Barnsley and showed that they weren’t exactly wrong to be so either. We would fight, bravely (as the board had wanted us to), but their quality was something else, and we never looked anything than second best. 4231 was implemented, with Maddison in the advanced playmaker role, only for him to come off with an injury in the second half…his second game back after his last lay off, another month out. ARGH!!!!
2-1 on the night, a bitter evening in South Yorkshire. One positive to be found though came from our wide men. Ryan Kent was working well as a winger, and could operate so out left more naturally than his right wing slot I was putting him in. Adam Hammill also would work well on the right wing, so a natural swap of positions, and a change to “winger” seemed to prove effective. We were getting the ball into the box, and creating, just you know…not doing anything with it. This would change my set up, and be the way forward in the future.
Wipolo: Things already better
Brentford away. Come on, we’ve beaten these convincingly before. We can do that again right? Convincingly, no. But win…yes. The London team would be a difficult opposition to our cup battle, but the result would be the same, though a different score line, as Barnsley were chased out of the capital with a fleeting 1-0 win. Once again, the wingers method was proving successful, as Ryan Kent, the youngster on loan from Liverpool would grab another goal to his collection after a wicked pass from Sam Winnall, who had replaced the poor Tom Bradshaw (who had returned from injury). The midfield would be stable again, thanks to a returning Sam Morsy, but it was defender Marc Roberts who caught the plaudits, marshaling an outstanding performance in the back 4.
Outside of league action, we returned to the League cup, away to Derby, who if you remember correctly, I had suggested would beat us by saying I wasn’t bothered anymore about the competition. Don’t I feel silly..
An incredible victory on the night, made only more beautiful by the fact that actually, I enjoyed the game. A back and forth contest, our cup run was proving a major success, and now, with another win under our belts, we were into the quarter finals, where we’d been drawn against Premier League side, Burnley.
Finally for the month, Lee Johnson’s high flying Bristol, who were sitting 4th in the table after an outstanding start, at Oakwell. A solid game for our defensive players would be undermined by our attackers, as an average rating of 7 at the back was complimented by a 6.5 for our front 3. That sums up the game, which finished 1-1. Adam Hammill’s 51st minute strike, canceled by Jamie Paterson in the 80th. To be honest, a fair result at the end, and one I would happily take considering Bristol’s league position, even if this result did mean they dropped to 6th.
16th place for us saw us well above the relegation battle, something I was very happy not to get dragged into. A hard fought month, but not a bad one. A youngster had made his debut, we had navigated a difficult injury hit patch (but boy…if I thought that was difficult…wait until November!), and had get a few results.
And at the end of the day, we had beaten Leeds United…