By Rob Atkinson
After that brief spike of hope for a new dawn which was the 4-0 slaying of Birmingham City, Leeds United served up their traditional dessert of bleak disappointment by slumping to defeat at the hands of plucky little Huddersfield. Predictably, the Terriers have been yapping ever since and the best we can hope for as far as they're concerned is a typical "post Cup Final" reaction when they visit Wigan. There is some satisfaction in seeing such teams collapse, spent and exhausted, in their next match after raising their games to play Leeds. Some - but not much.
Leeds themselves are rumoured to be ready to react to defeat at Huddersfield with defensive changes at home to Yeovil, a team they have never lost to and who they have beaten in all three historical home fixtures by an aggregate of 9-0. The logic of giving a debut to new signing Marius Zaliukas - on the strength of two Development Squad outings which have seen the concession of 7 goals - might appear questionable. It seems though that Zaliukas has acquitted himself well in the two shadow squad games, being described by coach Neil Redfearn as a "Rolls Royce". For United fans who remember the original Rolls Royce, Paul Madeley, there can be no higher praise than this, so hopes will be high for the Lithuanian international's positive contribution to our heroes' defensive efforts. Who would make way for the new lad is a matter for some conjecture - last week's defensive trio didn't have much to choose between them for general awfulness - but it wouldn't be a massive surprise to see Tom Lees drop to the bench. Another change could be forced on Leeds, with Sam Byram nursing a thigh strain. Loanee Dexter Blackstock is pushing for a start up front after scoring against Huddersfield with his first effort in a Leeds shirt.
For Yeovil, a second tier visit to Leeds is heady stuff. Not so long back, this tiny Somerset club were best known for the crazy slope of its home pitch, upon which many a higher-grade club were slain in Cup football. Now they're in the big time on merit and fresh, what's more, from an impressive 3-1 defeat of Nottingham Forest. It may be that having dispatched one former European force, Yeovil will have the appetite and spirit to see off another, but they will have to break new ground to beat United, or even to score a goal at Elland Road. After such an impressive result last week, manager Gary Johnson is unlikely to want to make too many changes, if any at all. One that may be forced on him is the replacement of former Southampton defender Dan Seaborne, struggling to overcome a knock from a midweek reserve outing.
Predictions are such tricky affairs, but the clues here are unmistakable. Leeds have a 100% record against Yeovil at Elland Road, the Glovers having failed ever to score on the sacred turf of United's home ground. This season they have scored only 9 league goals, and stand two short of 600 in their ten-year Football League career. So it all points to a "shock" 2-1 away win and more despondency for Leeds - by which prediction I am of course hoping to utterly jinx Yeovil's chances. It's underhand, but anything's worth a try!
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