Leeds and Middlesborough served up a Friday night treat for over thirty five thousand fans at Elland Road, despite the score it was an enthralling encounter.
Leeds still top the Championship going into the first international break.
Marcelo Bielsa made two changes to the team that so comprehensively beat Norwich City last weekend. In came captain Liam Cooper in place of Pontus Jansson and Jack Harrison replaced the absent Pablo Hernandez. Middlesborough lined up with two ex Leeds midfielders in their 5-3-2 line up.
The opening minutes were frenetic, both teams probing each other’s defence. Samu Siaz hit one from distance that flew into the South Stand, then Gaetano Berardi had Randolf scampering across his line but the defender’s shot went agonisingly wide of the post. Middlesborough’s Jonny Howson came close to opening the score when his strong run took him past despairing Leeds defenders but his shot was brilliantly tipped away by Peacock-Farrell, Assombalonga also had a chance from a corner but he headed wastefully over.
Roared on by the home crowd Leeds so nearly went in front from a Douglas corner, the ball found Liam Cooper and his powerful header beat Randolf but not Adam Clayton stood on the goal line. Just before the break a ball in to the box dropped between Roofe and Ayala, Roofe protested he was fouled but the referee waved away his penalty claims. An interesting and exciting first forty five plus one minutes, Leeds just edging possession. Half Time 0-0.
Ayala and Roofe tangle.
The second half was just as open but both teams were guilty of giving the ball away when in decent positions. Jack Harrison curled an effort round the post as Leeds tried desperately to force home a winner. Leeds replaced the injured warrior Gaetano Berardi with just over ten minutes to play, it looked as Patrick Bamford would also come on at the same time but Bielsa delayed the substitution for a number of minutes before the ex Middlesborough striker got an opportunity in the last few minutes as a substitute for the hard working Kemar Roofe who had a really good game. Leeds held off a succession of corners in the dying minutes of normal time and the five minutes of injury time. A draw a fair result.
Like I said in the opening it was a good game with the best attack in the Championship thwarted by the best defence. Notable performances by Peacock-Farrell, Harrison and my MOTM Gaetano Berardi.
If you’d have said at the beginning of the season we would beat Stoke, Derby and Norwich away and draw with relegated Swansea and last season’s playoff semi finalists Middlesborough I would have gratefully accepted that from the first six games. Millwall next!!
Met a few heroes whilst in the press-box too
‘Larry’, Josh and ‘Izzy’
By Keith Ingham