First off I’d like to apologise for the delay in getting this match report to you. Most of you were happy chatting about the Joey Barton thingy so to be honest I just decided to let that one run for a bit.
Secondly I’d like to apologise for the site going down yesterday. The worst thing is that I knew it would happen but couldn’t gain access to sort it out on my phone as I was indeed at Elland Road watching the match and forgot to e-mail myself the address to get things sorted when it eventually went tits up. I’m hoping to get it sorted within a few weeks, but I also have a life, a wife, a family and a full time job to fit in aswell so can’t always be on top of everything all the time. I’m sure you understand. Sorry for taking a day off.
Anyway, back to the football… The headline says that it was a defeat, but despite that there was some positives to come from the match aswell as some negatives. Contrary to popular belief, yesterday was not all doom and gloom!
The match didn’t start off brilliantly for Newcastle who found themselves behind in the opening five minutes thanks to a clanger from Fraser Forster who somehow managed to drop a ball that should have been a textbook catch. especially when you consider the fact that he was actually unchallenged! The ball fell for Patrick Kisnorbo to prod home and give the home side the lead leaving Forster red faced, and rightly so.
Demba Ba had a chance to restore parity but he was thwarted by last ditch tackles from Andy O’Brien and Patrick Kisnorbo before things nearly got worse for the away side after Max Gradel headed the ball home although the one-time Toon target was flagged offside and the goal was chalked off. It was close call, but it was the right one.
A slow start for Newcastle then although Yohan Cabaye did at least provide some positives in the absence of any of his team-mates really trying. Cabaye was everywhere, tracking back, picking passes, pulling the strings and I was certainly very impressed with him.
In fact it was Cabaye who grabbed an assist as Newcastle got back on level terms. The Frenchman fired a corner into the box that was inch perfect for Steven Taylor to smash home at the far post. 1-1 much to the delight of Taylor and the 4,000 strong Toon Army.
Just for reference, Cabaye’s set-pieces are far superior to Barton’s. The Frenchman picked out a Newcastle player every time (usually Steven Taylor to be fair) which was another thing that impressed me.
1-1 was probably a fair result at half-time in truth. Both sides had chances although Leeds perhaps had the best of them but Newcastle finished the half on top.
The second half began at a much slower pace as substitutions started to disrupt the flow of the game and with chances at a premium the match became stagnated in the middle of the park. That was until 66 minutes when another defensive/goalkeeper blunder combined to allow the home side to take the lead once again.
Mike Williamson had what should have been the easy job of ushering the ball out of play by the byline, but much like what happened at Anfield he got outmuscled which allowed Lloyd Sam to nick the ball and beat Fraser Forster on his near post with a low shot that went through his legs. Williamson was to blame, but Forster could have done much better in my opinion.
Newcastle brought on Ryan Taylor, Leon Best, Sammy Ameobi and Haris Vuckic in an attempt to shake things up, and it was the latter two of those four who had the biggest impact. Sammy’s direct running and pace caused problems for Leeds, as did his willingness to actually have a shot. He was unlucky on a few occasions as his attempts flew just wide and his crossing needs to improve, but there is definitely something there with the younger Ameobi.
Haris Vuckic was the star sub though. Composed on the ball with vision and pace the young Slovenian put in yet another good performance as he stakes a claim for a more important role with the team. I though we’d equalised from a Vuckic cross but a combination of Joey Barton and Demba Ba were denied by a fantastic save from Andy Lonergan in the Leeds goal.
Vuckic’s moment did come with 13 minutes left after good work from Demba Ba who cut the ball back to Haris who took a touch and smashed the ball past Lonergan. You can tell from Haris’ celebration that he was buzzing with the crowd. He just stood there wide-eyed in amazement in front of the South Stand and milked the accolades. I think he enjoyed it.
It all ended on a sour note however as Leeds once again took the lead with only five minutes remaining. Substitute Alex Mendy stood the ball up leaving Fraser Forster and chasing shadows as Billy Paynter rose highest at the back post to nod the ball in.
Full-time: Leeds 3-2 Newcastle.
As I said earlier, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. The match will be remembered as a defeat and will be clouded by Joey Barton’s Twitter outburst after the game – you know the one where he didn’t want to cause trouble but it’s done exactly that and has set fans arguing against each other…
Anyway, Yohan Cabaye was excellent throughout. Brilliant in fact. If he can take this performance into the Premier League we’ll have some player on our hands. He reads the game so well and is always there with a tackle or helping out or keeping things ticking along nicely. Very impressed.
Dan Gosling was another. He played well and was on the end of a few rough tackles, but he came through every one of them unscathed. He is full of energy and drive and could give Alan Pardew a selection headache as the new season approaches. Haris Vukcic was impressive again, as was Sammy Ameobi as they both continued their recent run of good performances.
Overall I’d rate the players as follows:
Fraser Forster – 4 – Disappointing really. Never felt confident with him in goal all afternoon. Made one good save from Gradel but his kicking is woeful and he looks slow and slovenly. Hate to say it as he is a fellow Hexham lad, but he won’t have done his case in the Goalie race any help at all with this.
Danny Simpson – 5 – Didn’t do a lot right or wrong. Up against Gradel who ripped him for pace before being withdrawn due to injury.
Mike Williamson – 4 – Reads the game so well at times but gets caught out far too easily and gets out-muscled when he shouldn’t be. It will, or at least it should be anyway, be Taylor and Coloccini at the back for us at the start of the season.
Steven Taylor – 6 – Gets a boost for his goal but he was prone to the odd cock up aswell, like when he tried to dummy a ball over the top when he was the last man. He needs to cut that out and keep it simple when it can be just that.
James Tavernier – 5 –A game of two halves for the youngster. Impressive in the first half, not so much in the second. Gave the ball away in dangerous positions a number of times but will learn. There is something there.
Jonas Gutierrez – 5 – Typical Jonas really. Good things matched by frustrating things.
Dan Gosling – 6 – Full of energy and composed on the ball. Potentially our most impressive player of pre-season.
Yohan Cabaye – 7 – Brilliant I thought. Did everthing a centre midfielder should do. Didn’t stop running or working for the team. Him and Tiote will be great in midfield.
Joey Barton – 5 – A few good runs but not much else. Wasn’t impressed with his performance at all to be honest.
Demba Ba – 5 – Looked rusty but also like he could be dangerous. Knows what to do and when to do it but didn’t get much of a sniff in front of goal. On the end of some hard tackles and came through all of them.
Shola Amoebi – 5 – Great on the halfway line…
Ryan Taylor – 5 – Can’t remember anything he done really.
Sammy Ameobi – 7 – Will run at players all day long and has the pace to beat them. Needs to work on his composure and crossing.
Haris Vuckic – 7 – A good range of passing, vision, and can finish. Another good display from the highly-rated youngster. Could this be his season?
Leon Best – 6 – It’s his touch an control that worry me, but it was much improved against Leeds. Glad we’re keeping him to be honest.
Paul Dummett – 6 – Made one good tackle but didn’t have much else to do to be fair.
Much will be made of this defeat and people will point towards any number of scenarios that could happen. At the end of the day we have Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Cheik Tiote, Sylvain Marveaux and Hatem Ben Arfa to come back into this side so it’s not all bad news.
For reasons of perspective, it’s a pre-season game. Other, more “ambitious” sides than us have been woeful thus far, like Arsenal and Liverpool for example, which has been lost on some I think. Yes a win would have been great but it wasn’t to be and all that matters is that we are ready for Arsenal and the start of the Premier League campaign.
Howay the lads!
Leeds: Andy Lonergan; Paul Connolly, Patrick Kisnorbo (Boldizsar Bodor 59), Andy O’Brien (Leigh Bromby 46), Ben Parker (Tom Lees 59); Max Gradel (Alex Mendy 65), Jonny Howson (c), Michael Brown, Adam Clayton (Billy Paynter 65), Robert Snodgrass (Lloyd Sam 59); Ross McCormack (Ramon Nunez 65).
Subs not used: Paul Rachubka, Aidan White.
Newcastle: Fraser Forster; Danny Simpson (Paul Dummett 79), Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor, James Tavernier (Ryan Taylor 57); Joey Barton, Yohan Cabaye, Dan Gosling (Haris Vuckic 65), Jonas Gutierrez (Sammy Ameobi 65); Shola Ameobi (c) (Leon Best 65), Demba Ba.
Subs not used: Tim Krul.