South coast misery for Leeds
St Mary's Stadium
Attendance: 30,794 (2,336 Leeds)
Leeds United`s five match unbeaten run came to an end at a very impressive looking Southampton.
The Saints won 1-0 thanks to a goal halfway through the first half by former Leeds player Dan Harding, who had the easiest of tap ins.
Leeds stuck with the same eleven that had won impressively at Tranmere in midweek but the side were no match for Southampton who could have quite easily have gone in at half time three or four up.
The game had been talked up as the match between the two best strike forces in League One but as they were nullified by the central defenders, Southampton`s midfield won he battle.
Jason Puncheon and Adam Lallana tormented the Leeds midfield and defence at regular intervals during the first half with young Aidan White particularly harassed by the very impressive Puncheon on the right wing.
With White getting very little support by McSheffrey, Puncheon was allowed to go one on one with the youngster and he regularly cut in and had a good opportunity to test Ankergren in the Leeds goal.
With both sides being limited to shots from distance in the opening quarter hour, Leeds best effort was from Beckford but his long-range effort went wide of the post.
Hammond forced Ankergren into a good save and Mr dependable, Patrick Kisnorbo was there to clear up the rebound.
Puncheon had a great chance to open the scoring soon afterwards he cut inside White and his left foot shot hit the foot of the post and went out to safety.
A goal had been coming and there wasn`t long to wait, Puncheon once again was involved in the build up and his ball into the middle found an unmarked Harding who had the easiest of tap ins.
Southampton were in total control of the game and they thought they had doubled the lead soon afterwards, Jaidi got on the end of a Southampton corner only for the referee to notice a foul somewhere in the build up and give a free kick to Leeds.
Andy Hughes then had to make a last ditch clearance with Casper well beaten as the home side increased the pressure.
Simon Grayson was probably a relieved man to this his troops walk off at half time only 1-0 down.
Grayson made an obvious substitution at half time with the tormented White being replaced by Bromby in defence, Mr versatile, Andy Hughes switched to left back and Bromby slotted into the right back position.
Leeds looked to start the second half on the front foot and Beckford had Leeds first effort but it was easy for Davis in the Southampton goal.
It proved to be Leeds one and only effort on target, the second half was a much tighter affair, Hughes manage to quieten down Puncheon who switched wings halfway through the half but found Bromby just as tough to pass on the right.
Leeds made an enforced change just past the hour when Kilkenny replaced the ineffective McSheffrey after the Birmingham loanee suffered a head injury.
Kilkenny actually started to bring a little more of a flow to the Leeds play and we finally had a player who was trying to play it to feet rather that 'hoofball` up to the two centre forwards who were getting absolutely nothing from the impressive Jaidi and Fonte at the back for Southampton.
Leeds made their final change of the afternoon with just under fifteen minutes remaining, Max Gradel replaced Luciano Becchio and he was quickly into the thick of things.
Before he`d even touched the ball he got into a scuffle with Harding and he was lucky to get away with just a yellow card.
The only meaningful save of the second half came from Ankergren when he got down well to keep out an N` Diaye shot.
Leeds best chance of the game came in the final minute of normal time when Snodgrass saw his shot from just outside the area go just wide of the post.
Premiership referee Peter Walton found five minutes of 'fergie time` from somewhere but it wasn`t enough for Leeds to salvage something from the game as the match fizzled out.
With other results going Leeds way in the race for automatic promotion a draw would probably have been seen as a good result but they was largely second best for much of the afternoon against a very strong and well organised Southampton.
Millwall now look a serious challenge for the second automatic promotion place after demolishing Charlton at the Den, it now makes Leeds next game against the Lions at Elland Road a week on Monday a mustn`t lose game.
With all the teams below Norwich dropping points, five wins from the last ten games could be enough to guarantee automatic promotion as long as they avoid defeat against Millwall and Charlton in the run in.
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