Leeds United 1-1 West Brom: Controversial opener stands as hosts forced to settle for a point

Leeds United have appeared to be in turmoil over the summer regarding their transfer policy. While the new owners wanted to hold onto their key players, there have been thirteen departures from Elland Road thus far this summer – with Tyler Adams being the latest, and Wilfried Gnonto has reportedly handed in an official transfer request today. Fans may find it difficult to be optimistic about the clubs’ chances to gain promotion back to the Premier League on their first attempt, though Daniel Farke and the club would look to restore a positive air around the club as they look to secure their first win of this Championship campaign.

West Brom would look to secure three points at a place they have failed to win at in the last sixteen years, and they’d feel confident of their chances. After an improved performance in a midweek win against Swansea City, Carlos Corberán would be confident that he can build upon that first victory of the season.

LEE: Meslier, Ayling, Rodon, Struijk, Byram, Gray, Ampadu, Shackleton, Rutter, James, Gelhardt

WBA: Palmer, Pieters, Ajayi, Kipré, Furlong, Swift, Yokuşlu, Phillips, Molumby, Wallace, Thomas-Asante

A game of football under the lights on a Friday night at Elland Road was always going to produce an electric atmosphere, and this buzz gave the Leeds players the impetus to put pressure on the travelling West Brom side. Leeds chased everything down in the early stages of the game, with this bringing about a decent chance for Daniel James in the 15th minute. Archie Gray stole the ball from Okay Yokuşlu on the halfway line, before playing the ball to the right-hand side for Jamie Shackleton. Shackleton put the ball across the box, which eventually landed at the feet of James. His shot forced a magnificent save from Palmer, as the West Brom ‘keeper managed to get down sharply to deny the opening goal of the match.

Following this opportunity, West Brom grew into the game as their players began to enjoy time on the ball, quietening the crowd and easing the intensity of the Leeds press. Yet in this period, the Baggies offered little in terms of danger aside from an overhit Matt Phillips cross that Brandon Thomas-Asante couldn’t meet.

This period of West Brom stability was abruptly halted when Shackleton almost put the Yorkshire club in front in the 26th minute. Shackleton received the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box, worked himself into a bit of space, and got a shot off. The shot took a deflection off Cédric Kipré, leaving the ‘keeper stranded in goal – but Palmer will be thankful that the ball hit the post and was able to be cleared away from danger.

The Leeds players and crowd were re-energised following this opportunity, with West Brom on the ropes as the Baggies struggled to emerge from their half. However, Leeds would enter halftime without capitalising on this pressure, having no more chances to speak of before the interval.

Leeds looked comfortable at the start of the second half – but perhaps they were too comfortable as the team played themselves into trouble. While playing the ball out of defence, the hosts were dispossessed and Jed Wallace almost made the Peacocks pay with the Baggies‘ first shot of the game. Illan Meslier produced a superb save to turn Wallace’s shot onto the post and out for a corner.

However, a minute later Meslier would be rendered useless as West Brom took the lead. A poor corner played into the penalty area by John Swift fell to Jayson Molumby – a player that could have been sent off for two bookable offences in the first half; his scruffy shot towards goal was deflected in by the hand of Thomas-Asante. Leeds will feel incredibly hard done by to have conceded a goal like this – a goal that would have been ruled out if Leeds were still in the Premier League, though there is no VAR in the Championship.

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This goal reignited the Leeds team as they went in search of an equaliser. With the hosts ramping up the pressure, they will feel unlucky not to have been given a penalty as Kipré did not seem to get a foot to the ball when Gelhardt hit the deck following contact from the defender. A minute later, James missed from just three yards out as Luke Ayling put a cross into the box – and he would be left to question how he missed the target entirely from that distance.

Leeds continued to ramp up the pressure and almost found the equaliser their fans were desperate for. A magnificent save from Palmer again would be the only reason that Leeds did not draw level in the 66th minute, with the goalkeeper managing to get his finger tips on the ball to stop James’ shot from the edge of the box from floating into the top corner.

Yet, the Leeds fans would be celebrating just six minutes later as a fantastic cross from James was headed home by the club captain. Ayling charged into the box from the right flank, getting his head to the ball as the desire he had to place that ball in the corner was greater than any West Brom defender’s desire to clear the ball.

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The atmosphere died off following this goal – as did the match. Neither side created anything of note following Ayling’s equaliser. West Brom would be happy to see the energy fade from Leeds and their fans as they looked to escape the barrage of attempts on their net. Leeds would only have one more attempt: a shot from 25 yards out from club record signing Georginio Rutter that went harmlessly wide.

West Brom will be pleased with the result given how the game played out, but they will have to wait another year to attempt to secure a win at Elland Road. Corberán will look forward to next week as they face Middlesborough at the Hawthorns.

Leeds are still looking for their first win of the Championship season – however their performance will be encouraging for fans and Farke alike. The German will be confident of securing that elusive win next week against Ipswich if they can produce a similar performance.