Leeds 1-1 West Ham: Daily Mirror match report
Published 21:20 18/03/12 By Sarah Winterburn
Leeds players expecting a pat on the back for going toe-to-toe with West Ham instead got blasted by Neil Warnock for throwing away victory.
Warnock was furious they had blown a chance to move within three points of the play-offs by allowing Danny Collins a last-minute equaliser for the Hammers. Leeds had looked destined to win this ugly war of attrition through Luciano Becchio’s late header but then failed to clear Mark Noble’s corner – an aberration in the eyes of Warnock.
“The manager went nuts at us for not defending the corner. He let us know what he thought,” said right-back Paul Connolly.
“We were all probably waiting for a pat on the back but he came in and went nuts.
“He told us we should have done better to get the three points and that it’s a thin line between success and failure, and against West Ham, we failed as we didn’t get the three points.”
Despite the harsh words, Leeds are loving life under Warnock, who has put some fire in their bellies and made them hard to beat – Collins’ goal was only the second conceded in five games.
“We’re enjoying it,” said Connolly. “The manager has got us all smiling. He is quite laid back at times but then he will say if you’re not doing it.
“He’s a wily old fox who knows how to get the best out of individuals. He knows what makes certain players tick and what doesn’t. If he keeps doing that, we’ll be all right. Players appreciate honesty. And he’s as honest as the day is long.”
If “honesty” is a code word for crunching tackles then Warnock (right) got plenty at Elland Road in front of a crowd of 33,366.
They saw a match woefully low on quality but blessed with bruising battles all over the pitch. “It was a real blood and guts affair,” said Connolly. “The fans turned out in their numbers and we didn’t want to disappoint them. Hopefully, we haven’t.
“The spirit was great. The tackles were flying in and we were first to most of them. I thought we were aggressive from the first whistle to the last.
“Our two older lads, Browny (Michael Brown) and Robbo (Paul Robinson), were flying in. There was Clayts (Adam Clayton), too. They all led by example. As soon as they smashed someone, it meant we all wanted to do the same.
“We fed off each other’s energy. West Ham are a fully committed team with some big lads, such as Cole and Nolan up front.
“They’ve a big centre-half in Faye and if you don’t match them you’ve no chance. They will bully you to defeat.”
West Ham are eight games unbeaten but too many draws have seen them slip five points behind leaders Southampton and three behind Reading.
“We don’t want to let the top two get away from us,” said Collins, on loan from Stoke. “A lot of people say you concentrate on your own games but I think everyone has a sneaky look at the table.”