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LUFC - Delph shines again

Brighton and Hove Albion
0 - 2
Leeds United

Withdean Stadium

17/01/09 3pm

Attendance: 7,096


Leeds travelled to Brighton hoping to get their slowly diminishing promotion hopes back on track after last Saturday`s home defeat against Carlisle United.

The 'loan rangers` all made their first starts for Leeds with Naylor, Dickinson and Trundle replacing Michalik, Sheehan and Christie.
Bradley Johnson also made his first start for Leeds since his successful loan period with Brighton, replacing Robert Snodgrass.

If you`ve never been to the Withdean Stadium then I suggest you don`t! It`s got to be one of the worst grounds in the country with temporary open stands on three sides and the pitch about 40 yards away. I am sure you would be freezing cold here on a nice day let alone on a freezing cold windy Saturday in January.

We can count ourselves lucky we only have to play there once a season, the poor Brighton fans have to put up with it all season long and I wish them a speedy transfer to their new ground in Falmer when it`s completed, they certainly deserve it.

I have waffled on a little because to be honest this game was no classic played by two teams that are obviously very low on confidence.

Leeds should have taken the lead in the first ten minutes when Luciano Becchio was pushed in the area and the referee was quick to point to the penalty spot, you see these go unpunished week in week out but today Leeds got lucky.
Unfortunately Becchio who was fouled took the penalty and his shot was saved by the legs of Sullivan in the Brighton goal, to be honest it was a poor penalty.

Leeds looked more assured at the back with Naylor and Dickinson looking impressive, Marques still looked very shaky and nervous and caused Leeds fans much anxiety at times when it wasn`t necessary.

Casper Ankergren was also causing Leeds fans much panic and on one occasion his poor clearance hit a Brighton forward but luckily Leeds managed to clear the danger.

In a fairly uninspiring first half Brighton`s only real clear cut chance fell to Fleetwood but Ankergren did enough to deny him.

Leeds had rarely looked like scoring in the first half and my thoughts drifted off to being back at home in the warmth rather than freezing my bits off watching this.

The second half continued much the same as the first, even when someone had a shot on goal for Brighton they drilled it straight at their own player much to the amusement of the Leeds fans.

The game finally came to life and after a Leeds free kick the ball fell to Trundle in the Brighton area and he superbly turned and shot to score his first goal since arriving from Bristol City on loan.

The question now on Leeds fans lips was could they finally keep their first clean sheet since November 1st?

This matter wasn`t helped when Richardson went off injured and Andy Robinson replaced him with Hughes slipping back into defence.

Leeds looked like they was going to scrape a 1-0 victory in an awful game when 'boy wonder` Fabian Delph made the admission money worth every penny, he picked the ball up in his own half before blasting the ball past the helpless Brighton keeper to double the Leeds lead.
The Brighton fans sat around me couldn`t help but admire the skills of Delph and they could now understand why he`s worth more than Kaka!!

Leeds could have scored a third late on which to be honest would have flattered the score line with chances falling to both Robinson and Christie.

The most important thing about today was we won ugly and we kept a clean sheet which was the real bonus.

Next up is fellow promotion hopefuls Peterborough at Elland Road which is surely a must win if we are to get back into the play off spots.

Star Player

Fabian Delph - 8 star man
He could have got it just for his goal but on a terrible pitch he was the only player who looked like he could play football.

Player Ratings

Casper Ankergren- 4

We still need a keeper, looks very nervous and that soon transfers to the players in front of him.

Fraser Richardson - 5 (replaced 66 minutes)

Didn`t have a great deal to do, went off with what looked like a hamstring injury and could be missing for a while.

Richard Naylor - 7

Not the fastest but he makes up with experience what he lacks in pace, controlled the defence and it was nice to see for a change.
Will be interesting to see how he deals with Mackail Smith from Peterborough next weekend.

Rui Marques - 5

Even though he had someone alongside him for a change that actually knew how to defend he still seems to be panicking when the ball comes near him. Whatever happened to the Rui from the start of last season?

Carl Dickinson - 7

Also had a good first start, he`s definitely better than league one and you can see why he will only be with us for a month, also helps the attack and put in a great cross during the first half.

Andy Hughes - 6

I actually think Hughes gets unnecessary stick, he`s consisted and goes about his job with no thrills, also versatile and can fill in a number of positions like he did once again today.

Jonathan Douglas - 6

It was generally a midfield battle and Douglas put himself about like he usually does.

Fabian Delph - 8 star man

He could have got it just for his goal but on a terrible pitch he was the only player who looked like he could play football.

Lee Trundle - 7 (replaced 85 minutes)

Took his goal well and will get better with fitness which will be when he`s ready for going back to Bristol City, oh I forgot that`s why he`s with us!

Luciano Becchio - 6

Will always give his all for Leeds, chases lost causes and continuously pressurises the defence. His penalty was a poor effort though and his goals have dried up since November.

Bradley Johnson - 6 (replaced 85 minutes)

His first start since coming back from Brighton, you would have thought he`d been used to playing on this poor pitch. A few decent moments in the game but drifted in and out.

Andy Robinson - 7 (replaced Richardson 66)

The game actually picked up a bit after his introduction and he could have scored late on.

Johnny Howson - 5 (replaced Johnson 85)

Not on long enough to make an impact with the game already won.

Malcolm Christie - 4 (replaced Trundle 85)

Missed a golden opportunity in the last few minutes to score.

Manager Rating

Simon Grayson - 6
We didn`t play well again and I think it was the fact we played a poor Brighton side that we came away with three points.
Will need to have them on top form next Saturday.

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Date:Saturday January 17 2009
Time: 10:41PM

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