For the casual observer reading the scores, it may look like Rangers took a battering at the hands of Premier League leaders Leeds City, but for those watching the game, for 70 minutes at least, this was far from the truth. However, few would disagree at the end of the game that Leeds had deserved the win with a good display of skill and experience.
Following an immaculately observed minutes silence for both the fallen of World War 1 and the terrible helicopter crash that claimed five lives in Leicester last weekend, the game kicked off at a frantic pace under gnarly looking clouds.
Both teams had similar ideas with long balls testing the defences, but neither carved out any chances and play quickly reverted to a more passing affair. Rangers probed first with Adam Carter aiming to set Charlie Yates free, but the covering defender managed to head back to his keeper.
Carter was in the thick of the action again when a darting run ended with the winger being bundled over just inside the area. Despite shouts for a penalty, the referee refused to be swayed and allowed play to continue.
Leeds won a free kick within their own half, and a curling ball into Deighton’s area needed calm heads between Conor Buckley and Joe Turley to clear the danger.
Play was switching between ends and an over the top ball caught the visitor’s defence on the hop, but Turley’s first touch took the ball away from goal and allowed the Leeds player to recover and put in a tackle.
A superb display of one touch passing saw Leeds produce lightning attacks and one such move saw the striker attempt to move the ball onto his right foot to shoot, as he did, a sliding tackle by Dave McKay guided the ball away.
Leeds put Rangers under an increasing amount of pressure, but dogged defending saw the home side close ranks, and tackles from McKay, Buckley and Jack Abbott prevented the visitors from scoring.
It also took a double save from Jonty Smith to keep City from taking the lead. Not able to collect the cross cleanly at first, Smith pushed the ball away from the first attacker and then produced a perfectly timed tackle outside his box to deny the follow up.
Playing some lovely football down the left wing, Rangers looked threatening every time they attacked. Knocking the ball between Carter, Yates, Slater and Turley, it finally sat up for McKay to hit, but his shot cannoned into the legs of a defender and was cleared.
Minutes later, Carter tried a snap shot from just outside the area hoping to catch the keeper out of position, but it cleared the crossbar and slammed into the hedge behind the goal.
Rangers were enjoying a purple patch and Yates chanced his luck from just outside the area, but his shot was plucked out of the air by the keeper. Soon after Buckley’s cross was knocked just over the crossbar by a leaping Barden.
Leeds responded by upping the pressure and it needed great challenges by Dubery and Abbott to deny them, but they were finally breached in the 34th minute when a corner was met at the near post and headed past Smith.
Rangers tried to respond and forced a flurry of free-kicks and corners, but Leeds defended resolutely, and the keeper remained untroubled.
With the half entering the 40th minute, a quick break by Leeds nearly ended with the player lobbing Smith, but the custodian got his positioning right and took the ball well.
The final action came when Carter received the ball outside the area, turned his man well and shot just over under pressure.
Rangers threatened first after the break when Barden fired in a shot towards the near post, however, the keeper had anticipated it and took it into his gloves.
Dan Slater was having a great game in midfield and it was his powerful tackle and pass that allowed Carter to run at Leeds’s backline. Whipping in a cross, the visitor’s managed to bundle the ball clear before Yates could get there.
Yates combined well with both Barden and Buckley down the left and receiving the ball on the edge of the area, he curled his shot just over the crossbar.
The scores were level on 54 minutes, and it was a tremendous volley from outside the area by Turley, after he picked up on a Leeds clearance, that arced over the keeper and into the back of the net!
Parity lasted just four minutes and following some neat play down the right wing, a pass inside the area picked out the Leeds forward and he powered the ball into the net.
Leeds were moving the ball well through the midfield and another spell of one touch passing saw play switch from right to left, but not for the first time, the cross was too close to Smith and he took it with ease.
With the visitors pressing high up he pitch, the match became very open again and Carter, Yates and Turley nearly managed to break free, but showing their experience in defence, Leeds closed them out at the vital moments.
Rangers had a great chance to equalise when Yates’s shot looped off the keeper and Carter leapt highest to head goalwards. As the ball trickled towards the net, a defender managed to divert its path.
The game was made safe by Leeds in the 70th minute when they intercepted a pass from the Rangers defence. In a carbon copy of the second goal, the ball was played inside the area and smashed home from close range.
Winning a free kick just outside the area, substitute Kieron O’Brien sent a curling shot towards the top corner, but a stunning save by the Leeds keeper saw him push the ball over the crossbar.
Leeds appeared to find an extra gear and they were putting the Rangers defence under increasing pressure. Smith pulled off a great diving save to push a fierce shot wide, but he was left beating the ground in frustration after Leeds had added a fourth on 86 minutes. Despite parrying the initial shot from a deep corner, the ball fell for the onrushing attacker to drill home from close range.
Beaten twice in two weeks by Premier League opposition, but certainly not disgraced either time. If Deighton can take this level of performance into their league campaign, we could be in for a great second half to the campaign!
Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Smith, McKay, Buckley.C, Abbott, Dubery, Straker.J, Slater, Barden, Yates, Carter, Turley
Subs: O’Brien (for Buckley 70), Woodward (for Barden 70) and Cheetham (for Yates 80)
Yellow Cards: Rangers (Barden & Turley – fouls) Leeds City (1 player – foul)
Red Cards: None
KDRFC Man of the Match (chosen by the management) was Dan Slater. A great performance at the heart of midfield. Never stopped running, was strong in the tackle and kept Rangers going.
Post Match quote from Manager Dan Marshall will be forthcoming (when I can uncorrupt the file!)
Joe Turley Goal v Leeds City
Match photo gallery (over 50 photos to enjoy!)