Match Report: Leeds United 1-2 Wigan Athletic - Lamentable Whites disgrace shirt in Latics debacle
Friday, 19th Apr 2019 21:00 by @LucasMonk99
In their most ignominious defeat for some time, Leeds United suffered what could prove a terminal blow to their hopes of automatic promotion as they somehow contrived to lose to lowly Wigan Athletic at Elland Road - despite playing the majority of the match with an extra man and having taken the lead in the first half.
Marcelo Bielsa’s charges were ostensibly coasting toward a crucial victory after Patrick Bamford fired them in front just minutes after Cedric Kipre was wrongly sent off for handball and Pablo Hernandez missed the resultant penalty.
But they were dealt a seismic blow on the stroke of half-time when Gavin Massey burst through and crashed a fierce shot past Kiko Casilla to draw the relegation-threatened visitors level.
After the break, matters would take an even bigger turn for the worse when Massey struck again - this time in the 62nd minute - to condemn the Whites to a desperately dispiriting defeat and third place in the Championship table behind Sheffield United.
Leeds threatened early in the day with Kipre heading a Hernandez effort off the line with just minutes played, before Wigan’s Leon Clarke nodded the ball a fraction wide of the post.
Hernandez soon had the chance to register his goal when referee Scott Duncan judged Kipre to have handballed a Bamford shot 11 minutes later, but he could only watch in horror, as did more than 30,000 others, as Christian Walton parried his dismal spot-kick onto the post.
Bamford took matters into his own hands to settle Leeds’s nerves just moments thereafter, controlling Luke Ayling’s cross before guiding a good shot past Walton and into the bottom corner.
Despite having the advantage of an extra man on the field, Leeds scarcely threatened to add a second goal and looked far from comfortable. Clarke almost capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Casilla and Gaetano Berardi, but his looping shot bounced wide. When Tyler Roberts finally produced a respectable attempt on goal with a volley on 41 minutes, Kal Naismith was propitiously placed to head the ball off the line.
Clarke’s missed attempt would prove portentous. Shortly after Naismith’s heroics, Wigan restored parity. Lee Evans found Massey on the right, and he advanced on Casilla before blasting the ball into the back of the net.
Bielsa responded to this setback by withdrawing Tyler Roberts and Kalvin Phillips and sending on Kemar Roofe and Adam Forshaw. The changes did not have the desired effect. Leeds did fashion a good chance on 51 minutes, but Roofe elected to chest Mateusz Klich’s cross toward goal in lieu of heading it, allowing Walton to make a facile save. Thereafter, they didn’t look like scoring.
Leeds would rue Roofe’s miss 10 minutes later. Clarke, on loan from Sheffield United, knocked down a high cross for Massey, who glanced the ball into the far corner to send the travelling Wigan fans into raptures and the home fans despair.
The hosts were seldom testing Walton, and it was the Latics who came closest to a fourth goal of the match when Reece James’s well-struck free-kick hit the crossbar and bounced over on 72 minutes.
A minute later, Walton saved well from Bamford after Hernandez played a good through ball. That was United’s best chance to equalise; they next came closest when Walton was at full stretch to deny Hernandez from 25 yards.
Wigan, with a stolid back five, held firm, toiling and tackling and blocking and defending as though their lives depended on it, and their vigour was in stark contrast to the somnolent and slovenly and altogether pedestrian play of Leeds. It was the former who had the last real chance of the game, with James breaking through on the counter and being hauled down in the box by Forshaw, only for the Latics’ appeals for a penalty to be waved away.
Audible booing greeted the final whistle, but piercing through this cacophonous sound was the more joyful one of the travelling supporters celebrating a ludicrously improbable win, one that relegated local rivals Bolton and may very well keep their own heads above water.
Leeds disgraced the shirt. Wigan deserve the most fulsome praise for the way they triumphed despite the quite preposterous sending off of Kipre, but the insipid and ponderous approach play of their opponents did not half help them to the three points. Marcelo Bielsa has fielded criticism for his substitutions, but the players let him down. It was their fecklessness, their refusal to take responsibility, their inability to complete even the most simple passes, their arrant lack of valour and courage and leadership, that brought about this, one of the club’s most embarrassing defeats in a great many years.
They now face an almost insuperable task to claim second place and automatic promotion after this defeat and Sheffield United’s 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest. They travel to Brentford on Monday. No less than a victory and three points in West London will do. That is, at the very least, what the steadfastly loyal supporters of this club deserve after the lamentable omnishambles they witnessed today.
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Casilla; Ayling, Jansson, Berardi, Alioski; Phillips (Forshaw 46’); Hernandez, Roberts (Roofe 46’), Klich (Clarke 70’), Harrison; Bamford.
Unused Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Shackleton, Dallas, Davis.
Wigan Athletic (4-2-3-1): Walton; Byrne, Dunkley, Kipre, Robinson; James (Garner 90+1’), Morsy; Massey (Powell 75’), Evans, Naismith; Clarke (Olsson 67’).
Unused Subs: Gibson, Windass, Roberts, Evans.
Referee: Scott Duncan.
Booked: Ayling, Berardi, Klich (Leeds). Walton, Powell, Evans (Wigan).
Sent off: Kipre (Wigan).
Man of the match: N/A
Photo: Action Images
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