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Match Report - Leeds United 1-1 Fulham - Sheriff Woody arrests United's losing slump
Wednesday, 17th Aug 2016 01:20 by Lucas Monk

Leeds United had Chris Wood to thank in the end as an added-time equaliser from the New Zealander salvaged a late draw at home to Fulham, who took the lead through Tom Cairney.

Leeds looked to be heading for a third straight Championship defeat under Garry Monk when Tom Cairney's sensational 77th minute strike put the Cottagers in front, but despite being much-maligned of late Chris Wood had the last say, with an acrobatic effort to arrest United's slump.

The result sees Leeds move out of the bottom three and up to 20th in the table, whilst Fulham are now 4th. Elsewhere in the division, Saturday's opponents Sheffield Wednesday were stunningly outclassed at newly-promoted Burton Albion, losing 3-1.

Team News

Leeds (442)

Starting 11 - Green, Ayling, Cooper, Bartley, Taylor, Phillips, Hernandez (Off for Mowatt 72), Dallas (Off for Vieira 58), Roofe (Off for Sacko 78), Antonsson, Wood.

Unused Substitutes - Turnbull, Coyle, Bamba, Doukara.

Fulham (4231)

Starting 11 -Button, Odoi, Madl, Kalas, Sessegnon, Cairney, McDonald, Parker (Off for Tunnicliffe 83), Ayite (Off for Jozabed 88), Aluko, Smith (Off for Woodrow 65).

Unused Substitutes - Joronen, Malone, Ream, Christensen.

First-Half

Leeds got the game underway shooting toward the South Stand, and it was the Whites who would attack first. With just three minutes played, Kemar Roofe teed up Pablo Hernandez for a cross from deep, but Fulham goalkeeper Button got to the ball ahead of the arriving Chris Wood.

Just two minutes later, and the visitors won a corner from their first attack of the match; Kyle Bartley blocking a Sone Aluko strike. From the resulting corner, the home side managed to clear their lines.

Despite there not being any chance of note for either team at this point, Fulham began to retain a greater share of the possession from the ninth minute onward. On twelve minutes the visitors looked to put that possession to use, but new signing Luke Ayling managed to block an Aluko cross before it could wreak havoc in the penalty area.

The first real chance of the game fell to in-form and former Leeds striker Matt Smith, on thirteen minutes. A good cross from Fulham's left found the head of the 6 ft 6 hitman, but he was under pressure from Liam Cooper and Kyle Bartley, and he could only head his effort straight into the grateful arms of Rob Green, who has had a shaky start to his career at Elland Road.

The visitors would create another chance just six minutes afterwards; young left-back Ryan Sessegnon fired in a quality cross that found former Bastia winger Floyd Ayite at the back-post, but the Togolese international could only glance a header wide of the mark from close-range. A let-off for United, who were struggling to even get a kick at this point.

Leeds' first chance of the game came on twenty-five minutes, when Swedish striker Marcus Antonsson surged past his marker with a subtle piece of skill to race through on goal, before dragging a left-footed shot just wide of the right-hand post.

There was cause for potential controversy on thirty-one minutes when Fulham's Aluko went down under pressure from United keeper Rob Green after going through on goal, with the referee choosing to wave play on.

Just two minutes after that incident, Aluko saw a shot crash off the post from inside the area before Sessegnon blazed an effort well over the bar just seconds later. The visitors were beginning to turn the screw, but somehow United remained on level terms.

The final action of note in the first-period was in the second minute of time added on; Chris Wood heading narrowly wide from a Kemar Roofe cross, although the flag had been raised for offside. The sides went in level at the break, with the two teams both having good opportunities to break the deadlock despite Fulham's domination of possession.

HT - Leeds United 0-0 Fulham

Garry Monk and Slavisa Jokanovic both opted against making any substitutions during the interval, and so the sides went out for the second period unchanged.

Second-Half

The visitors got the second-half underway, and they would enjoy two good chances early on in the half. On fifty minutes Rob Green was called into a terrific right-handed reflex save after Floyd Ayite struck a powerful effort toward the top corner from inside the area. A minute later, and Fulham hit the woodwork for the second time in the match; Matt Smith seeing a header hit the post following a corner.

Leeds would respond though, four minutes later, Kemar Roofe's well-struck low effort called David Button into action, and a minute after that, Pablo Hernandez also saw a shot saved by the former Brentford stopper. Moments later, and Ayite fired over for Fulham at the opposite end of the field; a frantic start to second-half proceedings.

Leeds opted to make the first substitution of the match with fifty-eight minutes on the clock. Central midfielder Ronaldo Vieira replacing wide-man Stuart Dallas. The change saw Kalvin Phillips take up a role as a lone defensive midfielder, with Vieira and Hernandez ahead of him, allowing Roofe, Wood, and Antonsson to form a front-three.

On sixty-one minutes, an intelligent pass from Spaniard Pablo Hernandez found Chris Wood, who could only fire over the bar from the edge of the penalty area. Ryan Sessegnon would then spurn a great chance at the other end a minute later; the youngster dragging a left-footed effort wide. Matt Smith then went off in place of Cauley Woodrow, to all-round applause from those in attendance.

On seventy-one minutes substitute Vieira was looking for more involvement after making two committed challenges to regain possession for his side a few moments earlier; the young man from Guinea-Bissau struck a shot from range that unfortunately sailed over the bar. The diligent Pablo Hernandez was then subbed off for Alex Mowatt.

United would have a good opportunity to open the scoring just minutes later; Kalvin Phillips' corner evaded the attempted clearance of Button, but Marcus Antonsson could only fire wide at the far-post. 0-0 it remained on seventy-three minutes.

Fulham were handed a chance on seventy-six minutes when Tom Cairney was fouled on the edge of the area by Kyle Bartley. The resulting free-kick was hit straight into the wall by Sone Aluko, but the ball found its way back to Cairney, who then turned away from a Leeds defender before unleashing a sumptuous left-footed strike into the bottom-left corner from the right channel to put the Cottagers into the lead. A cracking goal from the former Leeds academy player, but he was given far too much time to pick his spot and fire away. 0-1 on seventy-eight minutes.

Leeds responded to going behind by throwing on Hadi Sacko for Kemar Roofe, whilst Fulham opted to bring on Ryan Tunnicliffe for veteran midfielder Scott Parker just four minutes later.

Leeds would then create a huge chance on eighty-seven minutes. A Marcus Antonsson cross found Chris Wood at the back-post, the New Zealander though could only head into the ground and over from just three-yards out. Groans and half-hearted boos ensued whilst Jozabed replaced Ayite for the visitors.

It was beginning to get desperate as the game entered four minutes of stoppage-time, with Leeds crosses and corners being smacked clear by a seemingly unbreakable Fulham defence, but with just two minutes of added-time to play, Leeds were saved. A cross came into the Fulham area, the ball was flicked on by Kyle Bartley, and there was Chris Wood to connect with the ball in mid-air to equalise with a stunning overhead kick. Leeds relieved, Fulham and Jokanovic incessant with rage and peeved.

1-1 is how the game would finish, with Wood snatching a late point from the jaws of defeat.

FT - Leeds United 1-1 Fulham - Wood (90+2), Cairney (77).

It was somewhat desperate stuff from the home side in the end, but Leeds register their first point of the season, ending their losing slump whilst halting Fulham's winning start. The visitors dominated possession but were wasteful in the final third, and Ryan Sessegnon's miss came back to bite them when Wood struck late on. Both sides created an even amount of opportunities despite the disparity in their respective possession statistics, so a draw was perhaps a fair result.

Leeds are still searching for a first-win of the season, but the Whites are currently in the transfer market pursuing targets to improve the squad. They recently secured Liam Bridcutt's services on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee, and they are currently in talks to sign Torino defender Pontus Jansson on a loan-to-buy deal.

Standout Performers

Writers' MOTM - Luke Ayling

Ayling produced a typically committed performance, putting his body on the line for the cause and also supporting the attack well late on. He's only played two sets of 90 for us since signing from divisional rivals Bristol City, but the deal to bring him to Elland Road is already looking to be a shrewd piece of business.

Honorable mention - Kyle Bartley

Kyle Bartley also deserves credit for a much-improved performance. 87% of his passes were successful, and he made a total of 12 clearances and 5 blocks, whilst finally winning 6 aerial duels; his final one of the night seeing him set up Chris Wood for the equaliser.

Post-Match Reaction - Garry Monk and Slavisa Jokanovic

Garry Monk was understandably pleased after his side rallied to salvage a late draw; the former Swansea boss effusive in his praise for his side's spirit.

“I’m delighted for Woody,” Monk told leedsunited.com.

“That goal and his mentality epitomised the spirit in the group and what we did in those last 10 minutes. “After losing on Saturday we could have felt sorry for ourselves, and Woody missed a chance just before and could have felt sorry for himself.

“But we spoke about desire and spirit right until the end and I’m very pleased for my players. “It can be a big boost for everyone and it will give Woody a lift as well – strikers love to score goals.

“I thought it was an even game, both teams had periods. You could see they were confident from the start they’d had and we had to adjust to them, which we did.

“We’ve probably had a season’s worth of ups and downs in the first three games but it’s experience for this young group and you could see their spirit in the changing room afterwards.

“That last 10 minutes on the pitch was what I was looking for.”

Meanwhile, Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic wasn't too disheartened with the late kick in the teeth for his team, describing his side's performance as their best yet of the season.

“We’re unhappy after conceding a goal in extra-time, but my team played the best game of the beginning of the season,” Jokanović said in his post-match press conference. “We had everything under control, we created the chances.

“I can be satisfied with many, many, many things that my team showed today here in Leeds. These things can happen, the Championship is very famous for these last few minutes, and we paid an expensive price today.”

Fulham dropped two points late on despite dominating possession and hitting the post twice, and the former Watford boss went on to bemoan his side's luck.

“We were unlucky and we’re a little bit frustrated and disappointed after this late goal that we’ve conceded,” Jokanović said. “We didn’t score more goals during the game, and then at the end they score one typical Championship goal.

“One big centre-back touched the ball, another big striker then hits a bicycle kick to score the goal. We hit the woodwork two times and we weren’t lucky enough to score more goals.

“We had the game under control. We lost the control in one second in the last moment, but generally we’re driving the ship in the right direction. Generally I can be happy with how my team competed today, how my team played the game.”

Match Statistics and Facts

Stats - (Leeds/Fulham)

Possession - 39/61
Shots - 15/21
On Target - 4/3
Corners - 9/4
Fouls - 9/4

Referee - Chris Kavanagh

Attendance - 21,204 (391 Fulham)

Photo: Action Images



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