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Leeds United: Recovering the Lost Generation

An embodiment of the 'sleeping giant' cliche, Leeds United must rise again or be forever in exile
Started on 10 July 2018 by joshleedsfan
Latest Reply on 17 July 2018 by joshleedsfan
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joshleedsfan's avatar Group joshleedsfan
3 yearsEdited
There are now teenagers that weren't alive the last time Leeds United were in the Premier League. There are people that have completed their GCSEs that weren't alive when they crashed out in the Champions League semi-final.

To many of us, it doesn't seem like a long time ago since Leeds United ran with the big boys. But then you think about the last time they did. December 2002 was the club's last game in a continental competition, in a 2-1 defeat on aggregate to Malaga in the Third Round of the UEFA Cup.

That was 14 and a half years ago. In that time, the UK has had 4 Prime Ministers; Arsenal have started and ended a 9-year barren spell; Bournemouth have been relegated to League Two, nearly dropped out of the Football League and risen up through the divisions to the Premier League and survived a season (playing Leeds on the way down and back up); the careers of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have started and Greece, Portugal and Spain have all won their first international honours.

There is a whole generation of fans that have never seen Leeds resemble anything close to a 'big club', some have never even seen Leeds in a final of any description, the last one being the League One Playoff Final in 2008.

So what makes Leeds United a sleeping giant? Are they not a formerly successful club, which now resides in the bottom half of the Championship? It could be argued that if this happened in a small town, this club would have been long forgotten, a mere couple of lines on a few trophies.

But Leeds is not a small town. It is a one-club city, home to over 700,000 people. And just like Newcastle United fans flock to St James' Park to see a club with no major honours for over 60 years, Leeds United fans flock to Elland Road because the club represents their home. It is a close and personal attachment seen in very few other cities.

Media coverage has helped a lot of course. Loathed by the London-based media during the 60s and 70s as a physical style of play won them trophies, Leeds United became an enigma to non-Leeds-based supporters who became drawn in by the us-vs-them mentality.

Playing up to the villain role has helped Leeds United maintain its relevance, even if it is done by its fans. Covered intensively by Sky Sports gives the club exposure that you just don't see at other clubs that have disappointed their fans for so long, the closest perhaps being Nottingham Forest.

And now as yet another manager departs- something else the club has become a folk devil for recently- the club is in need of a visionary leader. Someone who can make the masses believe the hype. The club needs a manager who can give the 30,000+ a reason to be at Elland Road every other Saturday, other than 'fuck it, everyone else is going'.

When Leeds United appointed Garry Monk as manager in the summer of 2016, it seemed like they had that manager. Going into the late March international break, the club sat in 4th, 8 points deep into the playoff places. The team- seemingly under the illusion that the season was finished at that point- lost ground in dramatic fashion and finished outside the top 6.

And now, with Garry Monk having resigned, 30-goal striker Chris Wood and talented left back Charlie Taylor having left for Burnley, ex-England international Robert Green having moved on to Huddersfield and influential defender Kyle Bartley not likely to return on a permanent basis, Leeds United find themselves back at square one.

Pontus Jansson and Pablo Hernandez are the highlights of last year's talents that have stuck around. In a busy summer, the club have signed Felix Wiedwald from Werder Bremen to replace Rob Green, Pierre-Michel Lasogga on loan from HSV Hamburg to replace Chris Wood and- quite concerningly- no one to replace Charlie Taylor.

The question now is: who replaces Garry Monk?

*Note: I will be playing with the default database, therefore I will not be blessed with the immense talents of Laurens De Bock and Tyler Roberts.

Note II: Editor's notes may contain sarcasm*
Fantastic start mate! Good luck with this and I’ll be following.
ScottT: Cheers mate, having finally finished uni for good, it's time I finally got settled on a story ;)

Any manager who admits they never dreamed of managing a particular club never had my level of footballing ability. It was serviceable, and enough to earn me a professional living for 20 years, but that's probably as good a compliment as you could give me.

It started out fairly promising, I was signed by Bradford City at the age of 16 in the summer of 1991. Three very promising years at Valley Parade got me my big Premier League move, to Aston Villa.

With the Villains, 8 top class appearances blagged me a couple of caps for England. For me, this was the dream. An ACL injury a couple of weeks after the first international break put my career on hold for a year. I was still fresh and young when I made my comeback in 1995 and a couple more decent games got me back in the national setup.

That was the last I'd see of the England team. A knock to the knee on England duty became a twist and I was out for another few weeks. After that, my ability was shot, a long series of sub-standard performances rang alarm bells for then manager Brian Little.

I was shipped out on loan to Huddersfield Town. The team were 2nd in Division One (the Championship to you youngsters) when I arrived. My horrific form continued and I became to Huddersfield what Jimmy Kebe would become to Leeds 16 years later. An unfit, lazy, skillless wanker just there for a wage, as the the club plummeted outside the playoffs.

Of course, there were certain demons behind this. Mainly nights out on the town, and when I returned to Villa Park, I was described as a "lazy waste of space" by Huddersfield gaffer Brian Horton.

I was put in the last chance saloon by Villa. I was sent out on loan to Bradford City, managed by Chris Kamara who had just taken them up from Division Two via the playoffs. I rediscovered my mojo as I helped keep the club clear of relegation.

It was too late to save my Villa career, and I was sold to recently relegated Nottingham Forest in 1997. We made an immediate return to the Premier League and Ron Atkinson chose to put faith in my abilities in the top flight. In what was now becoming a theme, my performances were largely disappointing. In fairness, so were those of the rest of the team as the team made a swift return to the second tier.

It was time for another change of scenery and despite my string of horrendous perfomances, newly promoted Bradford City came calling for a third spell. For once, my performances in the Premier League didn't come under 'gross breach of human rights', as I played a role in the team that survived in 2000 and went down as brave warriors a year later. I chose to stay at Bradford as that was the only place I felt really happy.

I gave Bradford another couple of years before returning to Forest. Yup, that was a good idea. Or at least it seemed that way at the time. I signed on a 4-year deal with the club relegated to League One at the end. A 30-year-old released following a relegation was never going to do much for my stock as a footballer, as I took a move to newly promoted Luton Town.

We were the only team to play worse than Leeds in 2007, spared a bottom finish by the club I supported as a kid going into administration. With my current team and my favourite team both relegated, it was probably the worst summer of my career. I stuck it out with the Hatters and for my loyalty, was rewarded with another relegation in 2008.

After arguably my most depressing three years in football (worse than the three years at Villa), I went to see out my career with Oldham. With no relegations by 2011, I decided it was time to shut the book on a disappointing playing career.

It was essential to me that my coaching career didn't take the turn that my playing career did. Having started my badges in 2005, I was ready to take a big leap into coaching.

I took up a coaching role at Peterborough United, who had just been promoted to the Championship. It was a blag in many respects, but I was ready to make good on a great opportunity.

After two happy years- despite a relegation- my stock as a coach was increasing, and in the summer, I took on a role with Leicester City's first team. I was in the backroom team behind the side that won promotion and took the world by storm by winning the Premier League in 2016.

I earned another senior coaching role that summer with a move to Chelsea to work under Antonio Conte. When the news broke of Garry Monk's resignation this summer, I naturally checked out the favourites for the job.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly underwhelmed by the favourites, so I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring. How much harm could a left field appointment do? It's not as though the club had anyone with experience they could call on so I figured I may as well give it a go.

And that brings me to what I'm doing at Thorp Arch in late June...
"Ok lads, as you might be aware, I'm your new manager. A few of you may know who I am, for those who haven't been checking their phones today and are still none the wiser, I'm Josh Townend.

Three spells at Bradford City, two at Nottingham Forest and stints at Aston Villa, Huddersfield Town, Luton Town and Oldham Athletic formed a 20-year playing career. I've been on the coaching scene since 2011, with roles at Peterborough United, Leicester City and Chelsea.

Of course, I'm aware I'm not the only new face here today. Messrs Alioski, Saiz, Wiedwald and Klich to name but a few are the new faces in the playing squad. I hope you lads are happy and successful with us.

Anyway, onto what we're all doing here in late June. We have a day under six weeks before we kick off away at Bolton and there's a lot of work to be done in that time. We might see more new faces whilst a few may be kicking off the new season elsewhere, whether you leave us permanently or in a loan deal. I have a few expectations I want to see met this season.

I want us to go at the playoffs again this year. This team came too close last year to not make a real go of it again this time around. The rest aren't targets, they're standards.

It goes without saying, and perhaps it's a bit cliched, but I want to see you put it all on the line for this team on the pitch. When you cross that white line, the supporters want to see a team giving it absolutely everything, so I expect you to make them happy.

I also want to see respect. Respect for not just me, but my coaching staff, the club and the fans. Fans remember players who respect them and the club, but the ones that stand out even more and for all the wrong reasons are the ones who don't. See also: Mark Aizlewood.

Finally, you don't just give your all for the club and the fans. The ticketing staff can do that, myself and my coaches can do that, but what we can't do is run the midfield, or terrorise defences, or put our bodies on the line when a team mate makes a mistake. That's down to you. Every Saturday and most Tuesdays/Wednesdays, I want to see you go out there and give a left bollock for each other. When things go wrong, we don't scapegoat, we think about how we can step up and make things better. Although that's not to say we don't accept responsibility.

Now, I'm aware I've been banging on for ages. You're going to be put through your paces by the fitness coaches, I'll be in my office finalising my notes on the squad. Now off you go!"


Any self-respecting new manager spends all of his time holed up watching footage of his new team from last season. I was no different. I watched every game from last season, read notes on the new signings and watched and re-watched their highlights packages over and over again. So when I was done, I had a few conclusions about each player.

Andy Lonergan is back for a second spell. He was signed from Wolves on a free transfer following spells at Fulham and Bolton since he left Leeds in 2012. He is now in the twighlight of his career at 33 years old and will most likely be a backup option.

Felix Wiedwald is another new signing. Having found form at Werder Bremen during the second half of last season, Felix was hot property in the Bundesliga and certainly caught the eye of Victor Orta. He'll most likely be our first choice.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell is a man in need of first team experience. He made one appearance towards the back end of the 2015/16 season, which remains the full extent of his senior career. At 20 years old, a loan spell would the perfect opportunity to get some game time under his belt.

Luke Ayling was first choice at right back last season and was quite rightly, a fan favourite. Equally adept at bombing down the wing and hunting down the opposition winger, 'Bill' also enjoyed a blossoming bromance with defensive partner Kyle Bartley. With the latter having returned to Swansea following his loan spell, it remains to be seen if Ayling can keep up this level of performance without him.

Gaetano Berardi is another fan favourite, mostly for his passionate displays either side of full back. Although his technical ability remains in question, the fiery Swiss defender is well capable of holding his own putting his foot in where others won't. This fearless style of play does bite him on the arse sometimes, and he is currently out with a dislocated shoulder.

Pontus Jansson was the 'guvnor' at the heart of defence. Rarely do so many defensive players become fan favourites, but Pontus epitomised this shift in heroes last year. His aggressive style of play immediately endeared him to the fans last season, and one hopes he can continue his chest beating, advertising board kicking, fist pumping, brick heading antics this year.

Liam Cooper has been at this club for 3 years and is now part of the furniture. Whilst also capable of chest beating displays of bravery, Cooper's general demeanour is a lot calmer than that of his partner at centre half. It must be noted however, that Cooper is prone to costly lapses in concentration and perhaps some competition for places could be what he needs to get that out of his game.

Matthew Pennington arrived on loan from Everton, currently known for opening the scoring in the last Merseyside derby at Anfield. He strikes me as a less experienced Kyle Bartley, and perhaps some time with us could be what he needs to tale that extra step.

Vurnon Anita arrived from Newcastle United on a free transfer, and was unveiled during the kit launch. A handy player for the Toon Army during their promotion season last year, there remains some uncertainty over his best position, with the Dutchman capable of playing either side of full back as well as in the middle of the park.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson arrived on loan from rivals Manchester United. Although he turned out to be a handy player during Louis van Gaal's tenure, his loan spell at Wolves last year was greatly underwhelming and it is hoped he can perform much better for us.

Eunan O'Kane still remains something of an enigma. He played 24 times last season, mostly off the bench and played less and less for Garry Monk's team towards the end of last season. He has ability, but is yet to really impose himself on this team, and I hope to see much more from him this year.

Kalvin Phillips is a product of the club's academy. He's a local lad and a lifelong fan, yet is often made the scapegoat for lapses in concentration in the middle of the park. Some of the criticism is understandable, but most of it is way over the top, and it's up to him to dish up some sweet humble pie.

Ronaldo Vieira, despite having been signed from the i2i Academy in 2015, is still considered 'one of our own'. And rightly so. The 18-year-old made a tremendous first impression last season and once the conundrum in the middle is solved, he can go on to be magnificent for us. Certainly one to keep an eye on.

Mateusz Klich was the club's first signing this summer, arriving from FC Twente for £1.5m. He is known in the Eredivisie and the Polish national team for his passing ability and has earned the nickname 'the penetrator'. His passing ability excites me, but he has three first team quality players to compete for a place with and it's on him to help solve the midfield conundrum.

Pawel Cibicki, known on social media as Sea Biscuit for the way his surname is pronounced, is a new signing from Malmo. He has a friendship with Pontus Jansson, a well known fan of his former side. His delivery excites which is one third of being a winger. The other two thirds are dribbling ability and pace, which I'll be keeping an eye on over pre-season.

Ezgjan Alioski, known as Gjanni or Gianni for those who can't figure out how to pronounce his first name, is another new signing from Swiss club Lugano. The club have done well to land this guy, with Basel having been sniffing around him. He's an exciting winger with bags of pace and technical ability, as well as a sound knowledge of how to find the net, hence his preference to play on the right and cut in on his left foot. He is probably the best winger we have so I expect big things from him.

Stuart Dallas seemed to light up whichever side he played on in his first season (2015/16). He demonstrated his ability even further for Northern Ireland at Euro 2016. Unfortunately, he seemed largely out of form and out of favour for most of last season, and will now have to prove me he is capable of hitting the heights he did before.

Hadi Sacko seemed like a man who could do no wrong in the first half of last season. He's lightning fast and is capable of beating a man, but his final ball and decision making leaves a lot to be desired. The latter became more apparent towards the end of last season, with fans growing increasingly frustrated with his lack of end product. Nonetheless, the club made his loan spell permanent in the summer for £2m, so we now have to sit tight and hope he uses pre-season to add an end product to his game.

Pablo Hernandez was subject to many oles, oohs and aahs last season and it's clear to see why. At the age of 32, the former Swansea and Valencia midfielder still likes to dabble in the odd trickery to shake loose of players, and knows exactly when to play a killer ball. His performance against Derby County at home was probably the best individual showing of last season as the mercurial Spaniard verged on world class. When my Pablo-boner goes down we'll move onto his competitor...

Samuel Saiz is a man who I think I'll be saying similar things about this time next year. An absolute steal at £3m, Saiz is a diminutive but strong box of tricks who lit up the Liga Adelante with Huesca last season and it's hoped he can do the same for us this year.

Jay-Roy Grot. A far cry from the diminutive box of tricks we signed from Huesca, this half-human-half-giant was signed from NEC Nijmegen. At 6'4, he is an absolute man mountain and at 19 years of age, he has plenty of time to develop into a centre back snapping behemoth.

Kemar Roofe was good but never quite great last season. Understandably so too, having made the step up from League Two where he annihilated defences with Oxford United during their promotion campaign. Having had a year to acclimatise to the Championship, it will be interesting to see how he fares this time around.

Caleb Ekuban destroyed the Albanian Premier League last season. I seem to recall another forward who also did bits in that league. The less said about the latter, the better, and it's hoped that Ekuban can come in and do a job for us this year.

Pierre-Michel Lasogga. A rising star when he signed for Hamburg for £8m, Lasogga's career hasn't quite gone the way he would've wanted it to. He was tipped for the German national team at one stage, he is a large striker, reminiscent of Mark Viduka in many ways. I just pray that he scores like his Australian likeness.
Excellent! A Leeds fan myself, I hated last years team but if you can make it work on here I might be a little more favourable to the Class of 2017/18 ;) Alioski is an absolute God on this if you didn't already know.
Jack: He'd better not be any less than 'fucking dynamite' then ;)

Leeds United Intra-Squad Friendly
Thorp Arch, Wetherby
Tuesday 27th June 2017 7:30pm
13C Calm

On Monday, I got my first transfer negotiation off the ground. We put in a £2.7m bid for Bristol City's Aden Flint, to bolster the squad at centre-back. It was accepted and we have sent him a contract offer. In an ideal world, we'd be able to conduct a full analysis on the player, and I have sent scouts to look at him, but with all the interest, I wanted to have our foot in the door first.

After two days of double fitness sessions, it was time for my first pitchside assignment. A friendly had been arranged against the under 23s at Thorp Arch.

Although the traditional view is to take a look at any reserve players capable of challenging for a first team spot, I didn't really think much of the unders at the current time. Nonetheless, I set up the friendly just so we can get some match practice in early doors.

Without having settled on the specifics in terms of how we'll play, I set out a 4-2-3-1, with a rough sketch on the style. I want us to press the opposition, and whilst I don't want to see us lump it forward, I'm quite averse to us just passing sideways, so a patient buildup was given a miss.

The biggest call I made when selecting the lineup was to play Alioski on the left. I wanted to strip the wingers' roles back to basics and see how we do with left-on-left/right-on-right, before I worry about how to fit an inside forward in the system.

Quite worrying to me was the lack of depth, through injuries and a general lack of players. With Pennington, Berardi and Klich all unavailable for selection, I'd have to put four players through the full 90 minutes.

*Note: team sheet will be given right-to-left

First half XI (4-2-3-1): Felix Wiedwald, Luke Ayling, Pontus Jansson, Liam Cooper, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Eunan O'Kane, Kalvin Phillips, Pawel Cibicki, Samuel Saiz, Gjanni Alioski, Pierre-Michel Lasogga

Second half XI: Andy Lonergan, Luke Ayling, Pontus Jansson, Liam Cooper, Vurnon Anita, Ronaldo Vieira, Kalvin Phillips, Hadi Sacko, Pablo Hernandez, Stuart Dallas, Kemar Roofe

The first team came close two and a half minutes in. O'Kane put Saiz one-on-one with a through ball, the Spaniard's effort pinged off the post.

Now I'm all for laying a marker down early on, but this is going to sound ridiculous. Luke Ayling managed to get himself booked for a poorly timed lunge on Kun Temenuzkhov. Understandably, I was less than impressed, particularly four minutes in.

Soon after, we were in behind the unders again. This time a beautiful ball by Kalvin Phillips from behind the halfway line put Lasogga through on goal. Bailey Peacock-Farrell was straight off his line and equal to the Hamburg loanee's effort.

Our younger keeper was called upon again inside 10 minutes. It was route one stuff as Wiedwald caught the unders' defence napping with a long ball. Saiz was one-on-one, but Peacock-Farrell stepped up for his side once again, putting it behind for a corner.

There was little he could do about the following corner routine. A hanging ball from Saiz found Liam Cooper. Cooper headed it across the face of goal to the feet of his defensive partner Pontus Jansson, who couldn't miss. 1-0.

The game quietened down for the following ten minutes before Saiz put Lasogga in one-on-one. Spotting Peacock-Farrell off his line, Lasogga went for the chip, which landed harmlessly on top of the net.

The half-hour mark saw our first cross floated in for Lasogga. Alioski has been sent free down the left by Saiz. The Macedonian's ball in was inch-perfect, but Lasogga's header was straight at the keeper.

The German target man was starting to become wasteful. He was put through for yet another one-on-one moments later by Cibicki, but he scuffed his shot past the post.

He showed a glimpse of otherwise good work however. With just over ten minutes until the break, he timed a perfect slide tackle on Matty Downing, before skinning Hugo Diaz and firing an effort on target which was tipped behind for a corner.

Shortly before the break, the lead was doubled. Cibicki fired in a low cross for Kalvin Phillips on the far post. Phillips could only get a toe on it, and his intially-off-target effort touch a huge deflection off right back Robbie Gotts to make it 2-0.

My pre-match assertions about the unders were proving true so far. They couldn't cope with us at their end and created 0 chances at ours.

Half-time: 2-0

The unders' first effort at goal was a good one. Alex Machuca's short free kick came to Ousama Siddiki, and the Real Madrid academy graduate sent a 30-yard pile driver seemingly destined for the top corner, which flew agonisingly wide.

Five minutes later, the unders were undone by yet another long ball. Vurnon Anita went over the top, putting through Kemar Roofe one-on-one. Roofe was calm and collected and slid it under the body of Peacock-Farrell.

The first team were briefly undone shortly after by a long ball. Ousama Siddiki found Kun Temenuzhkov in acres of space, but the Bulgarian striker rushed his effort and scuffed it well wide of goal.

Just after the hour mark, an outstanding run from Kemar Roofe brought the first team's fourth goal. He picked it up from the outside of the box, took it to the byline and drilled a low cross which Robbie Gotts put past his own keeper for the second time.

The finaly half hour was a fairly turgid affair. There were a few more efforst with one on target, but the game was over well before the referee said so. Robbie Gotts would no doubt be kicking himself at the end.

Leeds United 4-0 Leeds United U23s
Leeds scorers: Pontus Jansson 11; Robbie Gotts OG 45+1, 61; Kemar Roofe 53
Pre-season fixture 1:
Leeds United vs Bury
Elland Road, Leeds
Ref: Neil Swarbrick
26C, Breezy

Whilst a lot of managers prefer to get a good few weeks of fitness training in before the team's first friendly, I'm more a graduate of the We Only Have a Month to Play Six or Seven Games Before the Season Starts School of Thought.

It therefore shouldn't come as a surprise that our first friendly that didn't involve running rings around the reserves came as early as the 8th July. We were due to kick off pre-season at home, against League One outfit Bury. It's good to get started against a side that will have aspirations of reaching our level at some point in the immediate future, rather than at a club that want us in to put bums on seats.

We had made a little bit of headway with transfers. I ultimately decided to go against bringing Aden Flint to the club. My scouting team concluded he wasn't a great deal better than what we already have and at 27 years of age, it was highly unlikely he'd ever become much better.

In terms of fresh deals, the ball is now in the court of Arsenal centre back Krystian Bielik and Hannover winger Felix . Both players are considering loan deals.

Centre back Paul McKay has left for a loan spell at Brechin City in the only transfer out, concluded or otherwise. In terms of backroom staff, I've brought in Thomas Vermeulen as my assisant manager. The 62-year-old Belgian had a 3-year playing career at German amateur outfit Weiden, before taking on non-playing roles at the likes of KAA Gent (1995-2006), Olympiakos (2006-08) and KRC Genk (2009-10) amongst many others.

Back to the matter at hand, it was good to see that tickets had sold relatively well. For matches such as this, only the Kop and the East Stand lower tier are open to home fans, which on top of the away allocation puts roughly 20,000 tickets on sale. Half had been sold before the day of the match, so we were in for a decent crowd considering it was only the first game of pre-season.

With no fresh faces since the behind-closed-doors game against the under 23s, I decided to go unchanged for the Bury clash.

Leeds United starting XI: Felix Wiedwald, Luke Ayling, Pontus Jansson, Liam Cooper, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Eunan O'Kane, Kalvin Phillips, Pawel Cibicki, Samuel Saiz, Gjanni Alioski, Pierre-Michel Lasogga

Subs: Andy Lonergan, Vurnon Anita, Ronaldo Vieira, Hadi Sacko, Pablo Hernandez, Stuart Dallas, Kemar Roofe

The first 27 minutes passed with no shots. Zero. Sweet fuck all. We did absolutely nothing for nearly half an hour with the exception of a few niggly fouls from Eunan O'Kane which earned him a place in the book.

I know this was only our first friendly, but it was nowhere near good enough. The 27th minute was the point at which I couldn't hold my tongue any longer.


I finally got a shot out of the team a couple of minutes later. Samu Saiz drove into the box, picking up on the loose ball from his own free kick. His effort was well wide, but it was appreciated nonetheless.

We finally came close in first half stoppage time. Lasogga picked up a loose ball froma corner and thundered it past the keeper, only to be denied by the post.

That was the last of the 'entertainment' in the first half and I still wasn't happy. I made sure my players knew exactly what I thought of the first 45 minutes.

"Miles off good enough. There's no energy, no directness, no drive. A lot of you will be coming off now, and if you play like that in the first half of the next game, you'll be very lucky to be in my regular starting XI."

The changes consisted of Lonergan on for Wiedwald, Anita on for Borthwick-Jackson, Vieira on for O'Kane, Sacko on for Cibicki, Hernandez for Saiz, Dallas for Alioski and Roofe for Lasogga.

HT: 0-0

We rattled the woodwork once more five minutes after the restart. It Vieira who smashed the post from the edge of the box before Sacko was ruled offside once he got on the rebound. Good job really, as he'd somehow contrived to hit the post again from two yards out.

We were improving and starting to come closer. Hernandez whipped a ball in from the left which Roofe tried to bundle over the line, but his finish clipped the boot of Tom Aldred before landing safely in the arms of the keeper. On the return ball, Ayling played in Sacko down the right. Sacko fired in a low cross, which Hernandez hit straight at the Murphy.

The first shot Bury registered was on target and came shortly after the hour, as a free kick from Tsun Dai was held by Andy Lonergan.

Hadi Sacko's running was causing Bury a few problems. With just over 20 minutes left, he raced past Joe Skarz and whipped in a ball for Roofe. The ball was cleared but only as far as Hernandez, who gave it straight back to the French winger. Sacko drove at the defence once more and this time, delivered an inch-perfect cross met by the forehead of Stuart Dallas to put us 1-0 up.

The pressure continued as five minutes later, Hernandez worked a bit of space for himself 8 yards from goal. His shot was driven low but tipped behind for a corner. Hernandez's corner was met by the head of Jansson, who flicked it on for Cooper, whose header was cleared off the line.

10 minutes from time, Bury nearly had a lucky equaliser, as Joe Skarz's poorly hit cross trundled along the crossbar before coming out the other side, luckily with no Bury attackers there to capitalise.

Dallas really ought to have doubled the lead 20 seconds from time. Sacko broke down the right hand side, drove towards the byline before floating across to the Northern Irishman, who was in unmarked and in a great scoring position, but his finish rippled off the side netting.

As a scoreline, the 1-0 looked unconvincing, but the stats showed that 1-0 flattered Bury. 17 shots in the second half to the 2 in the first half suggested that our attacking unit was much more effective after the interval.

Leeds United 1-0 Bury
Scorer: Stuart Dallas 69
Man of the Match: Hadi Sacko (9.0)
Attendance: 9,944

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