Leeds United 1 - 0 Burnley - The Big Match Report
By Sid1
Saturday 30 Apr 2011 22:03:00
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Leeds United beat Burnley 1-0 at Elland Road this afternoon courtesy of a Ross McCormack first half strike. McCormack’s first United goal came on 33 minutes thanks to a fantastic Bradley Johnson pass which left United level on points with sixth place Nottingham Forest before their 3pm kick off with Scunthorpe United. 

A 31,186 sell out crowd witnessed United create a host of chances but Burnley’s Brian Jensen seemed intent to repel Leeds producing a fine string of saves to keep the visitors still within striking distance of United. For the second time in consecutive home matches United met a goalkeeper in inspired form. Jensen kept the score line respectable, a 1-0 win didn’t do United justice who on another day could easily have won by a much larger margin.  

Leeds manager Simon Grayson opted to play two up front, Ross McCormack partnering Billy Paynter; both linked well and fashioned early shots on goal. Paynter narrowly missed the target with a half volley from just outside the penalty area after 8 minutes. Leeds seemed intent on taking the game towards the visitors and dominated in the possession and territory stakes.

Burnley carved their best opening after the quarter hour mark which forced a fantastic save from Kasper Schmeichel. A floated ball aimed towards Chris Iwelumo found its way through to Michael Duff who couldn’t beat a flying Schmeichel who saved with his head from six yards. Burnley had a debatable penalty shout in the build up of Duff’s chance, Andy O’Brien climbing on Iwelumo was lucky not to be penalized. Both sides swapped long shots on each others goals, Chris Eagles’ effort didn’t trouble Schmeichel and Max Gradel produced a good save from Jensen moments later. 

The decisive moment came on 33 minutes with McCormack registering his first Leeds United goal since his transfer from Cardiff City. Richard Naylor found Jonny Howson before a perfect pass from Bradley Johnson found McCormack in behind Burnley’s defence, McCormack shaped to finish in the far corner, fooling Jensen and calmly placing the ball into the Kop end net sending Elland Road into celebration.  

With 10 minutes to the half time break United looked to control the game and restrict Burnley’s movement and possession. Centre back Andre Bikey had a half chance connecting from a Daniel Fox corner but headed wide. United saw the half time whistle through and came out for the second half looking to build upon their slender lead.

Striker Billy Paynter was still on 1 goal for the season and had two fine chances in quick succession to double United’s lead yet squandered both wonderful chances. An inviting cross from Neil Kilkenny gave Paynter the opportunity to head in from six yards but Jensen pulled off a relatively comfortable save when Paynter should have scored. Moments later Paynter was put through on goal, tried to round Jensen but fired his shot from a narrow angle into the side netting. Leeds really were starting to crank the pressure up on Burnley and it seemed only a matter of time before the home side would take advantage. 

With sustained periods of intense pressure the visitors were buckling under the Yorkshire sun which shone down on Elland Road. United suffocated Burnley who kept making mistakes in their own half gifting opposition straight back to United before making any head way. Nice intricate passes down the touchline led to a coming together from numerous players from both teams. Gavin McCann was very lucky to only be cautioned by referee Phil Crossley for a ‘tackle’ on Max Gradel, McCann ran his studs down Gradel’s back in a challenge which had no intent of going for the ball but to only injure his opponent. Kilkenny in particular who had been the target of a malicious kick just moments before took exception to McCann’s challenge and once the situation had calmed down Crossley booked McCann along with both Kilkenny and Eric Lichaj of Leeds. 

United once more were desperately unlucky not to stretch their lead to two following another brilliant save from Jensen. Ross McCormack managed to poke a ball which seemed to be creeping inside the far post until Jensen managed to get a fingertip which diverted the ball onto the post and out for a corner. Although Burnley had been starved of any constructive possession in the 2nd half it was the visitors who came within a whisker of leveling the scores, Jack Cork’s powerful drive drifted over the top left hand corner of Schmeichel’s goal by a matter of inches. 

Once more Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen stood firm to deny what would have been a superb goal from Jonny Howson. Howson picked the ball up 25 yards out, dribbled into the box, shot yet Jensen was equal to the task pulling off another strong save.  Soon after Gradel and Kilkenny had attempts blocked, yet for all Leeds’ supremacy they only found themselves with a 1 goal cushion. Moments later Billy Paynter departed, Robert Snodgrass his replacement with 15 minutes still to play. 

With time soon running out and United only holding a slender lead it was natural that Burnley would grow and start to apply pressure of their own to set up a tense finale.  With minutes remaining Ross Wallace came close to leveling for the visitors from a free kick, fortunately Schmeichel dived high to his right and tipped over for a corner. Despite being thoroughly outplayed Burnley knew one momentary lapse of concentration from a white shirt could gift Burnley a point and end United’s play off hopes, by now Sanchez Watt had replaced Max Gradel who left to a standing ovation.  

Leeds as an attacking force were not finished yet, Sanchez Watt could have put the game to bed but a left footed shot from just outside the box sailed harmlessly over before missing another chance, dragging the ball wide from 10 yards. Watt’s missed effort would be the last incident of note, the referee sounding his whistle moments later after playing over six minutes of added time. 

Statistics: 

Attendance: 31,186

Man of the Match: Bradley Johnson: Johnson turned out a fantastic performance today which included a superb pass for Ross McCormack’s goal. 

Leeds: 1 Kasper Schmeichel, 6 Richard Naylor, 7 Max Gradel (Watt 87), 8 Neil Kilkenny, 9 Billy Paynter (Snodgrass 76), 14 Jonny Howson, 16 Bradley Johnson, 20 Eric Lihaj, 29 George McCartney, 40 Andy O’Brien, 44 Ross McCormack. Subs: 2 Paul Connolly, 4 Alex Bruce, 12 Shane Higgs, 17 Jake Livermore, 18 Sanchez Watt, 23 Robert Snodgrass. 

Possession: Leeds 58% | 42% Burnley

Shots: Leeds 20 (12 on target) | 12 (6 on target) Burnley

Corners: Leeds 7 | 8 Burnley

Fouls Committed: Leeds 11 | 17 Burnley

Offside: Leeds 5 | 2 Burnley 

 

 

 



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