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Leeds United 2 - Norwich City 1

Elland Road

19/10/09

Attendance: 19,912

Leeds United vs Norwich City

In a strangely sparse Elland Road, it took one moment of misfortune to deny Norwich a point in one of the most keenly contested matches this season.

Paul Lambert had to make do without Korey Smith's energy after he picked up a thigh strain, but this meant a recall for recent Scotland cap Stephen Hughes.

John Otsemobor also returned from injury, as City set up with a diamond formation that Leeds matched with a 4-4-2 system.

The home side welcomed back key man Robert Snodgrass from a knee injury, and two ex-city men in Andy Hughes and Leigh Bromby lined up against City.

Almost from minute one, Norwich displayed a zippy passing game that Leeds found hard to contain. As a result, two glorious chances were created in the early stages.

An overlapping Otsemobor received the ball wide after good work from the City midfield, and put in a tricky cross that Russell side footed towards goal. Keeper Shane Higgs failed to gather the attempt at his first, having to turn and scoop the ball back from the goal-mouth.

The clearly stunned home team had their hearts in their mouths again as Grant Holt found himself a little room left of the box and sent a low left footed pass into the centre for Hoolahan, who sent his tame effort straight at Higgs when he should have done better.

As is often the case with wasted opportunities, City paid for their missed chances when Leeds earnt a corner. Snodgrass whipped in an excellent in swinging corner which Bradley Johnson headed home at the back post. Otsemobor was the man out-muscled, but it was a massive relief for the home side.

The nature of the match became more frantic after this, with the visitors still enjoying greater possesion and looking good on the eye, though Leeds had a couple of sighters- including a burst from Beckford away from Doherty and a dragged shot- but still they failed to test Forster.

Norwich drew level when the tricky Hoolahan freed up Lappin on the right, whose left-footed cross was expertly turned in by Grant Holt in the box.

A keenly-fought match went to half time with both sides even, though it was clear City had bossed the midfield.

The second period was a little more scrappy as Leeds changed from 4-4-2 to combat the lack of possesion, but ultimately snappy challenges were the order of the day as both teams wrestled for control.

City threatened from Lappin's set-piece delivery, from which Askou hit a loose ball straight at replacement keeper Ankergren.

Holt also had a snap shot into the side netting from Doherty's nod-down, but the home side were to threaten themselves soon after, when Snodgrass's 25 yard free kick was well-parried away by Fraser Forster.

It was the home team again that threatened when Beckford received a fortunate deflection off a covering Russell that sent him clean through, but he was stunned to see Newcastle loanee Forster brilliantly save his low effort to his left.

Leeds were undoubtedly looking the fresher of the two teams, thanks to the introduction of the lively Gradel and Kandol, and it was Gradel that tested Forster again with a low left footed effort from just outside the area.

City were riding their luck again when Gradel got free on the right and sent in a low pass that Beckford narrowly failed to convert at full stretch.

Norwich still looked to pass and move, and were often finding space on both flanks, but it was clear that the pace wasn't there to get behind the Leeds full backs. Perhaps this was the time to introduce McDonald or Daley to aid a visibly tiring team, but what happened in injury time was not fair on the valiant City.

Forster was to restart with a goal kick, but scuffed his kick straight to the lethal Beckford, who raced through and scored through a fortunate deflection off the excellent covering of Otsemobor.

The youngster had a mixed night with his kicking to be fair, but this was a harsh lesson for both Forster and the battling canaries.



Star Player

Leeds United- Robert Snodgrass

Norwich City- Darel Russell

Manager Rating

Paul Lambert- 7/10

The initial set-up of the diamond in midfield caused problems for Leeds, who were out-passed for most of the evening. The City boss didn't use any subs in the game though, and when the opposition ran fresh legs at tired ones, Lambert should have introduced his own to help the tiring Hughes, Russell or Martin.

Opponent Rating

Simon Grayson- 7/10

The Leeds manager was out-thought initially by Lambert, as the home team struggled in midfield, causing Grayson to change from 4-4-2 at half time In the latter stages he made key substitutions that helped turn the tide.

He spoke to the BBC website:-

'I thought Norwich were excellent and that's the hardest game we've had this season.

'We played Liverpool a few weeks ago and they didn't give us the problems Norwich did.

'We knew they would cause us problems but we have got a desire at this club to keep going and get results when we haven't played as well as we can do.' '




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The Journalist

Writer: Alex Tuck Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday October 20 2009

Time: 12:33PM

Your Comments

Hi Norwich a leeds fan here. I was the match last night and thought your passing was excellent. We havnt been outpassd home or away all season and its refreshing to see anyone come to elland road to try and win. Thank goodness your strikers are not as clincal as the midfielders (if you had a striker like beckford you really would be a handful) and despite all the possession our dodgy reserve goalkeeper wasnt tested too much. Good luck for the rest of season playting football like that and I hope you come up with us (counting chickens a bit here)
erni
Cheers Erni- you finished strongly and I was personally disappointed we didn't match your pace with ours on the bench, I think that made a big difference as we looked tired. Considering where we were, the improvement is significant and I hope we go on a run now and breath down your necks! Good luck for the season
Candid NCFC
I will echo what erni said, I actually really enjoyed watching you last night. Very quick passing through the midfield, really liked Hoolahan and Otsemobor. You've got a solid defence, great midfield and Grant Holt looks a completely different player to the one who looked over weight and uninterested during his time at Forest. The turning point for us was the introduction of Gradel, we had looked very much second best for most of the second half. I think come the end of the season it's going to be a scrap between us two and Charlton for the automatic spots.
dazza71
Leeds fan here, I think it wont be long before NC make this a three horse race if you can stay injury free with your most influential players it will be very interesting to see when you catch up. Leeds can play well but last night we were not allowed to.
Vital Maverick
Cheers for the honesty from the Leeds fans there. If it wasn't for the last ten minutes where we switched off a bit, I'd have said we deserved to win comfortably, but in the end, they had so many good chances that a draw would've been fair. If we keep playing like that, we ain't gonna lose too many more games this season.
Saturday skin
By all accounts, Otsemobor had a good match. It just seems a little unsettling that he seemed to play a part in both the Leeds goals or am I being a tad unfair?
Rex
Semi should have competed better for the first, but the second he actually did brilliantly to catch up, just unfortunate with the deflection. He wasted a couple of decent crossing positions, but alos put in a couple of good balls too, so I'd give him a 7/10. The lad is so so fast, that is a valuable weapon and I'm sure he'll improve under Lambert.
Candid NCFC
You were unlucky not to get at least a point, we never started playing till the 80th Minute and nicked it with the Substitutions
Tiny T
 

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