CRAIG HOPE: Sam Allardyce fighters are running out of time, Leeds fought like mad but their 2-2 draw with Newcastle did them a disservice
- Sam Allardyce’s Leeds were held 2-2 by Newcastle on Saturday
- They could have won if they hadn’t missed a penalty and given up two
- It was wonderful entertainment, but offers little help in the relegation battle
They say chaos is good for the soul. Not so much for your survival prospects. Or, indeed, Champions League hopefuls. Because when the dust and dirt of the mess set in, quality and control were all a little impure.
Played amid a cauldron of creeping hysteria – Elland Road at its best – those on the pitch did little to calm those in the stands.
Not that the neutral was looking for such comfort – it was wonderful entertainment. In the end, it was like two drunks wrestling in a kebab shop – a red card and a red mist replacing the red cabbage.
What does this do for Leeds and Newcastle going forward? The danger is that a battle like this undermines both mind and body. Yes, they’re all great games now, but 12-round slogs can tire you, especially when the outcome is a split decision that doesn’t help either side’s respective cause much.
Leeds were better than they have been. And if there were 12 games left instead of just two, you would support them to stay under Sam Allardyce. His influence was evident in the stubborn manner in which they shut the door on Newcastle for the majority of that game. It was only unlocked from the inside, given the two unnecessary penalties that allowed the visitors to score their goals.
Leeds were held 2-2 by Newcastle on Saturday in their second game under Sam Allardyce
They could have won the game after missing a penalty and giving away two
Allardyce men almost certainly need another win to secure Premier League status next year
Take a minute to forecast the likely outcome of those at the bottom and Leeds, winless in seven games, will almost certainly have to win one more.
Allardyce’s frustration is that the win they need should have come here. His response when asked why Patrick Bamford took the game-changing penalty – the striker missed with Leeds 1-0 in the 28th minute – was far from convincing.
“Well, I left it like before I got here,” he said. EThe thing is, Allardyce was brought in to fix what was broken. “I mean, I haven’t seen them take many penalties,” he added.
London (4-1-4-1): Robles 7; Ayling 7, Wober 5, Kristensen 7, Firpo 3; Koch 6.5; Rodrigo 7 (Aaronson 87min), McKennie 6, Greenwood 5 (Forshaw 46, 7), Harrison 6 (Gnonto 64, 6); Bamford 4 (Struijk 90).
Scorers: Ayling 7, Kristensen 79.
Reserve: Firpo, Gnonto, Robles, Bamford.
Director: Sam Allardyce 6.5.
Newcastle (4-3-3): Pope 7; Trippier 6, Schar 5.5, Botman 5.5, Burn 5.5; Joelinton 6, Guimaraes 5.5, Willock 6 (Anderson 87); Almiron 5.5 (Gordon 73, 5.5), Wilson 7.5 (Saint-Maximin 73, 5.5), Isak 7.
Scorer: Wilson 31 (pen), 69 (pen).
Reserve: Guimaraes, Wilson.
Director: Eddie Howe 6.
Arbitrator: Simon Hooper 7.
London: West Ham (a), Tottenham (h).
Newcastle: Brighton (h), Leicester (h), Chelsea (a).
Why not? Grunts of distrust were audible among the home supporters as Bamford stepped forward. It was with foresight, not an afterthought, that they felt Rodrigo should have taken it.
Bamford’s confidence is as fragile as the club’s top flight status and it was no surprise his telegraphed approach was read by goalkeeper Nick Pope. If Leeds had scored, with Newcastle disoriented, they would have won.
Within minutes, Callum Wilson equalized from the penalty spot, and he had another one midway through the second half. Max Wober’s savage challenge and Junior Firpo’s insane handball were the cause for concessions. Firpo was then sent off in stoppage time. On the contrary, it was a blow for Newcastle – with him on the pitch there was always the possibility of a giveaway.
And Eddie Howe’s side needed that home generosity here. Their once threatening defense has softened midway through a streak of a clean sheet in 17, while an attack that has been razor-sharp suddenly looks dull.
They also failed to show their usual control once up front, and Leeds equalized when Rasmus Kristensen’s shot deflected off Kieran Trippier.
Howe said: “I was disappointed with the second half. I felt like we could grab the game and try to take it away from them, but that never really happened.
The Newcastle boss was pushed around and abused by a local fan during stoppage time. An unsavory incident, if it corresponds perfectly to the feverishness of the day.
But out of all the chaos now comes cool heads. “It’s never a straight line to success,” Howe said. It certainly looked like a goofy detour that could still throw both teams off course.