Saturday, 12 February 2011

Bristol City 0 Leeds United 2: Snodgrass wins Grayson praise

United manager Simon Grayson recalled midfielder Neil Kilkenny to his side in place of Davide Somma as he returned to the 4-2-3-1 system that had served him so well in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
City were fresh off the back of a 4-0 win at Preston - the first time they had scored a league goal since January 3 - and they were backed by the bulk of a sell-out crowd, with just under 2,000 Leeds fans at Ashton Gate.
It was a frenetic opening few minutes with neither side able to keep a foot on the ball, but United did carve out an opportunity inside the first five minutes when Neil Kilkenny had a shot blocked from outside of the box.
The home side's first half-chance came on eight minutes when former United striker Andy Keogh headed a Jamie McAllister cross wide.
But there were further glimpses of United's attacking promise, the first coming when Robert Snodgrass broke from midfierld and the second when Kilkenny released debut man Eric Lichaj who, in turn, released Snodgrass to deliver across which just elduded Max Gradel and Luciano Becchio.
Gradel was in fine form and was continuing to be a threat, linking up well again with George McCartney, and it was United who were in front on 17 minutes.

Gradel released Snodgrass inside the box and the Scot showed unbelievable skill to twist and turn, working himself an opening before slipping the ball past David James.
Moments later, Kilkenny slipped the ball into the box and Gradel only narrowly failed to get his foot on the pass while Snodgrass tested James with a curling a shot.
The opening half-hour also saw a couple of very heavy chellanges from Kalife Cisse, the first left Kilkenny writhing and the second resulted in Jonny Howson receiving treatment.
The atmosphere between the rival fans became increasingly lively as the game wore on, and United continued to look by far the better side with Bristol City's rare spells of possession coming to nothing.
It took the home side until 43 minutes to fashion anything meaningful and even then Marvin Elliott turned a scrappy effort wide from close range.
Leeds ended the half on the back foot as City enjoyed their only real spell of pressure, but it failed to produce any more serious chances.
The home side also started the second on the offensive, David Clarkson firing into the side netting.
But it was 2-0 on 50 minutes. Snodgrass again worked his way in from the flank, and after his shot was blocked, Gradel got his foot on the ball, swivelled, and slotted in beneath James from a tight angle.
And it could have been three within a minute, Bradley Johnson grazing the bar with a header from a Snodgrass cross.
But the home side did fashion out a great chance on the hour mark when Kasper Schmeichel got a decisive touch on a Keogh shot and Alex Bruce cleared.
United carved out another chance on 63 minutes, though, when Howson released Gradel on goal. The winger worked himself an opening to shoot, but lifted the ball over James and over the bar.
The home side were committing men forward now, but it was also alllowing Leeds the chance to break, and another potential opportunity went begging when Howson was crowded out as he considered three options ahead of him.
On 69 minutes, Schmeichel was called upon to make a terrific block with his legs to Clarkson after the home side won a corner and Leeds failed to clear.
James was the next to make a save when he had to get down to an effort from Gradel after some decent build-up play by Leeds.
Yet, quite how Bristol City didn't score on 76 minutes was a mystery. In one extended scramble, Schmeichel made a terrific save, another effort hit the post, and Marvin Elliott hit the underside of the bar before Leeds finally cleared.
Despite having commanded much of the game - and being in total control for 50 minutes - United were having to do some desperate defending at times as City pushed for a goal.
With 12 minutes left, Grayson made his first change of the afternoon, Somma coming on for Neil Kilkenny.
City called Schmeichel into action again on 80 minutes when the Dane got down well to a free-kick from Brett Pitman which was fired through a ruck of players.
The hosts were still pressing, although time was fast running out, and Bruce headed one cross away before Schmeichel came racing off his line to smother the ball at the feet of Clarkson.
Andy O'Brien also blocked a Martyn Woolford shot as the game headed into four minutes of stoppage time.
And it was United who carved out a chance in the final of those minutes when Somma blasted a shot over the top.

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