Boro Battered at Leeds
By Robert Nichols
Sunday 01 Dec 2019 10:13:00
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Leeds marched on hammering FOUR past Boro yesterday as we wilted in the heat of the onslaught and heady atmosphere. The title contenders settled any of their nerves when Bamford was clinical with a header in the opening minutes. The game was effectively settled with a deflected breakaway goal right on half time. In the second period Leeds picked us apart. A sorry end to a week that had offered some hope. A crushing blow to be beaten so emphatically by our old foes.

There was a 35 000 crowd at Elland Road and the home fans were all too soon able to twirl their scarves and sing Champions of Europe, they were never champions of Europe, as Patrick Bamford (but of course) headed home in only the third minute. Boro managed to start Britt Assombolonga and Paddy McNair, although Jonathan Woodgate later revealed that McNair was only fit enough to play in defence and Britt ended up limping off before the end. The big forward was offered scant protection by the match officials and was most probably some way short of full fitness himself. Presumably Coulson was also added to the long injury list before kick off.

Leeds look to be on the up and up this season, strong in defence as well as attack and in former Boro player, Patrick Bamford, they had a thorn in our side from the start. Aynsley Pears managed only to scoop up Bamford's early effort on target, Bola intercepted the follow up, with Pears scrambling behind him, both drawn away from the goal. Leeds recycled the ball, crossed and there was Bamford in the centre to make no mistake, planting a header into the unguarded net. 1-0 to Leeds and as you can imagine much wild cheering did ensue in the blue seats.

Boro were further rattled by more attacking, Bola, in for the presumably injured Coulson, looked vulnerable against the widemen. Saville tried to double up, as did McNair on the right. Wing was the sole creative outlet but again looked off the pace as well as being swamped by the intense Leeds pressure.

Yet Boro did create chances in the first period. Britt was strong, Fletcher working hard, Tav all over the shop. But our resistance was effectively ended when Bamford broke away deep into time added on. The shot from the edge of the area was part blocked by Ayala but that deflected the effort into the opposite corner, wrong footing Pears. It was a hard blow to take right on the half time whistle. And it looked like game over.

In the second period Boro were picked apart in midfield. Although Ayala and Fry defended valiantly the ball kept coming back in. When Wing couldn't quite sort his feet out Helda Costa was ruthless, smashing the ball home from the edge of the penalty area. Things got even worse as Klich curled a lob over a crowded box and into the top of the net. Leeds now threatened to humiliate Boro.

Woodgate made changes, Ben Liddle making his first ever appearance, came on for Wing and got stuck in straight away, throwing himself into challenges and spreading play. Tyrone O'Neil would make his first appearance replacing Britt who limped out of the action. Stephen Walker would later replace Fletcher for the final moments.

Boro had been taken to the cleaners by a team no Boro fan likes to lose to. Some fans had mentioned on social media in advance of the game that we should experiment with youth as it was a free hit game. The scoreline shows the folly of that thought and approach. What it has signposted is the massive gulf between the two sides and clubs. We were locked in a 0-0 draw early last season but since then we seem to be drifting divisions apart.

Jonathan Woodgate was given applause and chants from the fans that once watched him play as an England international. But he had head bowed as the joyous Leeds fans called for him to give them a wave. It will have been a bitter pill to swallow for our head coach as well as the fans to lose so emphatically at Elland Road.

Where does it leave Jonathan Woodgate and Boro now? We clearly do not have what it takes to compete with any but the teams around us. It looks like not only a season of transition but almost like a complete reset is coming. Somehow we need to make multiple signings in the most difficult of all months, January. But we must keep our heads above water until we get to that point. That means the youngsters coming on near the end at Leeds could be trusted to be a major part of the mission statement.

Difficult times ahead and a bitter defeat in Leeds few will want to remember. A reality check for sure, how did we get to this point?

Leeds United 4-0 Middlesbrough



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