Venus own goal hands Leeds victory
This one is hard to stomach. After leading for most of the match thanks to a Marcus Stewart header, Town still manage cave in, and hand Leeds victory courtesy of a Veno own goal...
Football can be a cruel game. Despite a very positive and encouraging performance against high flyers Leeds United, Town find themselves on the wrong end of a score line yet again. What makes this defeat even harder to take, is the fact that for so long Town were leading, and it looked as if we were going to pull off an impressive victory. As it was, poor old Mark Venus scored an own goal for the second successive time in this fixture, to send Leeds home with more than they deserved.
The side Burley picked was very similar with the one that played in Moscow, although Jermaine Wright was recalled in place of the unlucky Jamie Clapham. Reuser and Bramble were both still missing through injury.
Town started in a bright and confident manner, and Armstrong found himself with a good opportunity to put Town ahead with an early header, but Nigel Martyn collected comfortably. Leeds also looked dangerous, but their inability to stay onside thwarted most of the their attacks. But on one occasion they did break the offside trap, and the nippy Robbie Keane forced a good save out of Sereni.
The post came to Leeds' rescue, after a good move finished with the impressive Armstrong knocking a ball down to Stewart. It looked a certain goal as the Stewart's shot beat Martyn, but it agonising hit the upright and fell to safety.
But Town deservedly went ahead after 21 minutes. Mark Venus swung in a lovely free kick and Stewart was there to guide it home. It was another typical Stewart finish, and it's good to see him looking back to his best.
It was at this stage Leeds decided to make a game of it, and perhaps had their best patch of the entire match, leading up to half time. They looked dangerous coming forward every time they won the ball in midfield, and soon Sereni was called upon again to produce a tremendous save, this time from Bowyer.
We just about shaded the first half, but knew that one would not be enough. We had had chances to go two up but could not take them. Ironically, as the second half progressed, it looked even less likely that Leeds would get back into it. Chances fell for Finidi, Armstrong, Magilton and Stewart but unfortunately none were converted. But as legs begun to tire, the match quickly swung from end to end.
Eventually, Leeds took an opportunity that came their way. Robbie Keane again broke the increasingly unreliable offside trap, and made no mistake when he side footed past Sereni. It was a bitter pill to swallow, as if had we had taken just one of our many chances, the match would have been out of sight Leeds' sight.
Predictably though, Leeds soon went ahead. Makin, who had looked immaculate all game, was guilty of conceding possession to Kewell. The Australian centred only for Venus to turn it past Sereni. The celebrating Leeds players could hardly believe their luck, and nor could Venus.
There wasn't enough time on the clock to mount a serious comeback, although substitute Counago swivelled well in the penalty area only to produce a weak shot. The final whistle came all to quickly, and Town had lost again.
The players must be gutted, and it will be hard to keep spirits up after another crushing defeat. But the truth is Town did play well, and carved out many chances against a very good Leeds outfit. Things just didn't go our way. There were so many good performances throughout the team, and you can't fault the players commitment. Alun Armstrong won my man of the match. He's such a handful, and his work rate is excellent.
Leeds possess an abundance of skill in all areas, and it is no surprise they are currently top. They are now the second best team in the country without a doubt. As soon as they win the ball they look capable of producing something, but to be fair, we did restrict them to a handful of good chances. I'm sure O'Leary is very relieved to have come away with three points.
I'm still convinced Town will be ok. Our situation is looking increasingly desperate as we seem unable to win, but if we play like this every week at home, we'll win most of them. The players now have a well-earned rest next weekend, before we tackle Crewe in the Worthy.
From The Terrace