Sky Bet Championship: QPR's class tells as Leeds unbeaten run comes to an end
The sun was cracking the pavements in Selby as the lunchtime kick off dictated yet another early start to our latest matchday. I will never get used to lunchtime kick-offs. It’s just not right. Even in Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, he cited 3 pm Saturday kick-off times as one of the exceptions to his rule that everything in life evolves. Clearly the TV and football Gods have never read his book. Still that wonderful feeling of confidence and optimism filled the air.
After their mightily impressive win at the Keepmoat, Brian McDermott’s team extended their unbeaten start to the season to six games and sent a shot of real hope through the veins of the extended Leeds United family but the good news didn’t stop there as Ross McCormack signed a new deal to finally rebuff any possible move to Middlesbrough or Blackpool. So for the first time in an eternity, the vast majority of Leeds fans streaming to Elland Road had an unusual strange look on their face. For those who weren’t sure what this phenomenon was, it’s called ” a smiling face”.
Selection permutations were the main topic of conversation as we quaffed our pre-match refreshments. Would Alex Mowatt and Scott Wootton start? How can he not start with Matt Smith and Dominic Poleon after their performance against Donny? What about Adam Drury? Suddenly McDermott had selection headaches of a different kind. In the end, the team selection was relatively conservative as Wootton was the only change at the expense of Tom Lees. Mowatt didn’t even make the bench.
Harry Redknapp’s expensive array of talent with significant Premiership experience looked formidable on paper. Joey Barton, Clint Hill, ANdrew Johnson, Robert Green, Richard Dunne, Nedum Onuoha and ShaunWright-Philips with the likes of Jermaine Jenas, Alejandro Faurlin and Junior Hoilett on the bench, not to mention the goal machine Charlie Austin leading the line suggested this was going to be Leeds’s toughest test yet.
Leeds started brightly though with their patient build up, creating a couple of early half chances for Paul Green and McCormack but both shots ended up in the South Stand. At the other end, pantomime villain, Barton, had the ball in the net only to be denied by the linesman’s flag. The game progressed with precious few chances created, as both teams cancelled each other out.
Leeds were the more dogged of the two sides, whilst QPR seemed to have just that bit of extra class. Wootton and Jason Pearce were holding firm at the back, though as the game crept towards half time still goalless. Wright-Phillips showed just why he is not quite good enough for the Premiership when he skipped past some desperate Leeds tackles only to pull his shot horribly wide. Leeds were restricted to long range efforts as the half finished with the scores level at 0-0.
The first half stalemate had tempered my pre-match optimism. Having spent £25m on their team, QPR look like being formidable contenders for the promotion places as their redoubtable defence swatted away Noel Hunt and Luke Varney’s efforts with unruffled ease. If we were going to break the deadlock in the 2nd half, we needed a different approach.