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Wigan Athletic 0 v 2 Leeds United
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 17th August 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Leeds finally overcome the 10 men of Wigan
Sunday, 18th Aug 2019 12:25 by Tim Whelan

The much-maligned Patrick Bamford was twice in the right place at the right time, to fire Leeds to victory over Wigan Athletic. I always said he was a great player.

Marcello Bielsa had already announced that he wasn’t going to announce his starting line-up for the game, while saying that he wasn’t going to make any changes from the last league game with Forest. Which might have helped Wigan boss Paul Cook to plan for this game, but he could probably have guessed that this eleven would dominate most of the possession but struggle to convert that superiority into goals.

And just about anyone could have predicted that the Leeds fans would provide most of the atmosphere for this game, with a full visitors’ end looking out at vast numbers of empty seats in the other three stands. There were a clutch of Wigan fans in the corner to our left doing their best to cheer the home side on, but that was about it.

Leeds had the first chance of the game, with Phillips shooting wide from distance, but then Wigan managed to mount a bit of pressure of their own. Their surprise win over Cardiff on the opening day served notice that they won’t be a pushover on their own patch, despite the lack of folk noise from the home fans.

They went close when Evans chipped a free kick into the top corner, which Casilla had to turn over the bar. And our defence looked all over the place from the resulting corner, which came through towards Massey at the far post, but thankfully he failed to get the touch he needed. Wigan were working hard to try to close us down, but a turning point came in the 21st. minute when their aggression went a bit too far.

Williams had already picked up a yellow card by clipping the heels of Dallas, and when he was frustrated at being pulled back by Forshaw, he launched into a high tackle on Bamford long after the ball had gone. Wigan got the free kick for the initial foul, but Williams picked up the inevitable second yellow for a foul that could easily have been deemed to be a straight red in itself.

Wigan boss Paul Cook said later that he had no complaints about the dismissal, but moaned about inconsistency as he claimed that a similar foul from Phillips went unpunished. That latter incident led to the referee racing over to the Wigan ‘technical area’ to show a yellow card to a member of their coaching staff.

Meanwhile, the Wigan fans chanted “we only need ten men” to remind us of that awful game at Elland Road in April. History was not going to repeat itself, though as we began to get on top a lot of our crosses were overhit, leaving Bamford starved of service. And when the ball did come his way he more or less tripped over the ball in front of goal rather than putting the chance away.

His many critics will have loved that, but he was to make no mistake in the 34th minute. A cross from Dallas found Forshaw at the near post, and after Marshall had palmed his header onto the woodwork, it fell to the unmarked Bamford five yards out. It bounced at a difficult height, but our main man had plenty of time to control it and knock the ball over the line. A defender stood with his arm in the air, but god knows what he was appealing for, as there was nothing wrong with the goal.

There was a flurry of excitement in the stand to our right as one or two Wigan fans objected to the presence of several celebrating Leeds fans in their midst. You’d think that they would be glad for the extra income from fans occupying some of the many seats that would otherwise be unsold. “We’re Leeds United, we sit where we want!”

And according to the highlights on Quest TV there was also a bit of bother between the teams as they went off for half time. I didn’t see that, but perhaps it happened as they went down the tunnel. But back on the field it was more the same in the second half, with Leeds pressing for a second goal.

Forshaw seems to be getting a few chances these days and he forced Marshall into another save, while Douglas should have scored after a neat move, but could only send the ball across the face of goal. And we had a shout for a penalty in the 65th minute when a cross from Hernandez hit a defender’s arm, but the ref might have decided this was accidental.

It didn’t matter anyway, as the resulting corner came through to Bamford after White missed it and he was able to bundle the ball home despite the presence of two defenders and the keeper on the line. After that the result was never in doubt, though we failed to convert any of the chances to make the win more emphatic and improve our goal difference.

I thought we could have sent Nketiah on to run at a tiring 10 man side, but the only sub made before the 90th. minute was Costa, who replaced Klich. Once again he seemed keen to impress, but tended to want to do too much rather than pass, and again seemed a little too easy to knock off the ball. The other sub was a late cameo from Shackleton.

As the game wore on Forshaw sent another chance wide, while Hernandez was denied by a couple of saves from Marshall, the first from a free kick. At the other end Wigan had a free kick of their own, when Evans again forced Casilla into a good save, putting it in almost the same place as his effort in the first half.

Once that chance had gone Wigan’s hopes of a late comeback was snuffed out, and some of their few fans who had come were making their way to the exit well before the referee put them all out of their misery with the final whistle.

This result sends us to the top of the table, in conjunction with the Wendies defeat at the hands of the loveable Millwall. We’re above several other teams on goal difference only, but have we peaked too soon once again?

Reuters Media Express

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