Tomlin Recalled For Leeds Test
Posted: Tuesday, February 14th 2017
Tuesday, February 14th 2017
A much-improved second-half display was unable to rescue City from a first defeat in four matches at Leeds.
The visitors were 1-0 down at the interval to a goal with an element of controversy, as Eunan O’Kane’s quickly-taken free kick was ruthlessly finished by Chris Wood before City were in position to defend the set-piece.
When Pablo Hernandez doubled Leeds’ advantage two minutes after the break with a deflected shot, City responded with a flurry of chances, but Milan Djuric's consolation goal arrived too late to make a difference.
Lee Johnson made one change to his side who stormed into a 3-0 half-time lead at Derby County, recalling Lee Tomlin at the expense of Matty Taylor.
City ultimately had to settle for an equal share of six goals at Pride Park, and both teams might have scored inside the first four minutes at Leeds.
The hosts were quickest out of the blocks, as Hadi Sacko raced down the right before Hernandez’s chipped cross was fractionally too high for Kemar Roofe, who got his head to the ball but could not keep it down from six yards.
Robert Green was forced into the first save of the game in reply from a fierce 30-yard free kick by David Cotterill that had to be pushed aside for a corner.
Former Swansea City winger Hernandez, capped four times by Spain’s Golden Generation in his youth, would prove a tricky customer for City to pin down.
After popping up on the left and shooting off target from Roofe’s lay-off, he was fed by Sacko down the right and drilled a low effort straight at Fabian Giefer.
Then when Josh Brownhill got a glancing touch to a Leeds corner, defender Pontus Jansson opted to keep the ball in play and duly beat Jens Hegeler down the right before crossing for Roofe, whose header may have been going wide even before deflecting behind off Aden Flint.
City had some bright ideas in possession but were struggling to thwart the home side’s attacks, with Wood turning and firing another shot this time well held by the stooping Giefer, before opening the scoring on 27 minutes.
City were caught napping when O’Kane took a quick free kick, slipping a clever pass in behind the defence for Wood to dispatch his 19th Sky Bet Championship goal of the season, edging him ahead of Tammy Abraham and behind only Dwight Gayle in the process.
It was an incident that frustrated the visitors, as Johnson remonstrated with the fourth official over a foul not given on Bailey Wright in the build-up while Tomlin was booked for his protests, but the goal stood.
The City head coach was left even more frustrated when leading marksman Abraham was forced off through injury after 37 minutes, prompting Taylor to return to the fold sooner than expected in his place.
In truth it had been one-way traffic for much of the first half, but City’s best chance to draw level arrived in added time.
Joe Bryan surged in behind former team-mate Luke Ayling to gather Cotterill’s long pass in his stride and unleash a well-struck shot beaten out by Green only to Taylor, who lost his footing as he took aim on his left foot.
Johnson was not afraid to make another change before the restart. Off went Mark Little and on came Djuric as City switched to 3-4-3.
There was early pressure from the men in red, as Tomlin used his neat footwork to combine with Bryan before Djuric’s shot on the turn was blocked by Jansson.
But just as City looked to gain a foothold in the contest for the first time, Leeds scored again.
Ayling stepped into midfield and found Hernandez, whose left-footed shot cruelly deceived Giefer thanks to a huge deflection off Flint.
City were down but not out and launched a series of attacks in response.
Green made a routine save from Taylor and Tomlin’s inventive chip dropped just too late to nestle under the crossbar, before Cotterill’s cross was met by Djuric to force another save from the ex-England keeper.
Then Jens Hegeler found Bryan, whose low cross was tipped away by Green for a corner from which Wright sliced a half-chance wide.
This was undoubtedly City’s best spell, but if they were going to launch a comeback they needed a goal quickly.
Tomlin had not enjoyed as much of the ball as he would have liked, but was determined to make something happen when he nutmegged former Bournemouth team-mate O’Kane as well as Ayling before being hacked down by Ronaldo Vieira.
Perhaps Tomlin would have taken the free kick himself had he not been receiving treatment, but instead Cotterill fizzed in a cross from the left corner of the box punched out by Green.
The Leeds shot-stopper was certainly kept busier than Giefer in the second half, and had to make his best save yet when another Cotterill delivery was headed down by Djuric only to be clawed out by the inspired Green.
At the other end, Garry Monk was irritated when he thought Flint should have been penalised for handball in the area, before Wood’s touch to take it round Giefer was too heavy and the chance to kill the game was lost.
Taylor twice came close to halving the deficit and Flint rattled the crossbar before Djuric headed home Cotterill's last-gasp corner, but the full time whistle was blown before Leeds could even get proceedings back under way.
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