Leeds celebrate v B’pool


The Italian contingent

Sat March 21st BLACKPOOL 1 (Madine 44), UNITED 1 (Antenucci 62). United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Bamba, Berardi, Murphy, Cook, Mowatt (Antenucci 54), C Taylor (Doukara 75), Byram, Sharp (Morison 54). Subs. S Taylor, Cooper, Austin, Cani. Referee: S Duncan Booked: Madine, Orlandi (Blackpool), Byram, Bellusci (United) The trip to Report from LUFC Blackpool saw Neil Redfearn name an unchanged side from the midweek 3-0 victory at Fulham, while Rodolph Austin returned from injury to occupy a place among the substitutes. It was United who had the afternoon’s first sight of goal on a testing Bloomfield Road pitch, with Luke Murphy firing wide from distance inside the opening two minutes, while Michael Jacobs was inches away from connecting with a low cross for the hosts in a fast-paced start to proceedings. The United defence stood firm to keep out a series of deliveries into the box, and Redfearn’s side looked at their most dangerous on the counter-attack as both Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook looked to break forward at pace. But chances were few-and-far between until the 29th minute when Luke Murphy unlocked the Blackpool defence and made his way towards the byline. The midfielder’s floated cross was inch-perfect for the arriving Sam Byram at the back-post, but his right-footed volley fizzed millimetres away from opening the scoring. Marco Silvestri was then forced into his first save of the afternoon three minutes later, getting down sharply to his left to clutch Gary Madine’s low effort from inside the area. Jose Cubero smashed a first-time strike way over Silvestri’s bar, before another fine United chance came at the opposite end through Charlie Taylor. The 21-year-old waltzed his way through the home defence and into a one-on-one situation with Lewis, but the Blackpool goalkeeper pounced on his attempt as he looked to poke it goalwards. David Perkins struck wide from outside the box, before the deadlock was eventually broken on the stroke of half-time through Blackpool’s Gary Madine. Andrea Orlandi’s curling free-kick clipped the post and fell kindly into the path of Madine to give the hosts a slender lead going into the break. The two sides re-emerged unchanged and former United loanee Darren O’Dea towered a header over within three minutes of the restart, while Silvestri clutched a low free-kick from Orlandi as Blackpool began the second period on the front foot. Redfearn was prompted into his first changes of the afternoon on 54 minutes, replacing Billy Sharp and Mowatt with Steve Morison and Mirco Antenucci respectively. And a golden opportunity fell into the path of Antenucci just five minutes after his introduction, but the Italian smashed his volley over Lewis’ bar after being found inside the area by Gaetano Berardi’s cut back. Antenucci was soon to make amends, though, and the striker pulled United level on 62 minutes with his 10th goal of the season to the delight of the travelling contingent. The ball bounced into the path of the 30-year-old inside the area and, with immense composure, he lifted the ball over the onrushing Lewis to make it 1-1. Morison was soon involved himself, with his path just blocked off as he looked to race through on goal, while Silvestri needed to be alert at the opposite side to hold on Miles Addison’s low effort. With 15 minutes remaining on the clock and the game firmly in the balance, Redfearn made his third and final change of the game – an attack-minded one – as Souleymane Doukara replaced Charlie Taylor. United had their sights set on adding a second and Antenucci sent his lobbed effort over the bar after Lewis was caught off his line as he competed with Morison for a cross into the box. Morison found himself crowded out inside the area as the game approached seven minutes of added time, with the lengthy stoppage coming due to a head injury to the United striker. Silvestri’s reflexes were tested as he flew across his line to palm away Orlandi’s goalbound free-kick on the 91st minute, before United did have the ball in the back of the net through Giuseppe Bellusci, only to be ruled out for a foul in the build-up.

As United broke up-field, the Italian defender was adjudged to have tangled unfairly with a Tangerine shirt in the middle of the park before going on to head home Berardi’s cross. Bellusci was booked and that proved to be the game’s final meaningful incident as the spoils were shared. Redfearn said: The substitutes made a difference and we got a little bit more of a focal point in Morro. “But I felt a bit sorry for Billy (Sharp). That lone striker is a bit of a graveyard shift if you don’t get the quality into them. “We looked better with Morro up there and Mirco started getting free and causing problems. The finish was a quality finish.” On the game overall, Redfearn added: “We’re probably doing Blackpool a disservice. I thought they played the conditions better than us. “They obviously trained on it and you can see that but they managed the conditions better. “We talked about it, about how we needed to play and where we needed to put the ball in the right areas, and how we needed to get the midfield facing the right way but we just didn’t do it. “The number of times we played little five yards passes across the back and nearly got caught or gave away goals was a problem, but luckily enough we got in only 1-0 down so we could do something about it. “We gave them the benefit of the doubt for five minutes but it needed a change, so we changed it.”

Sat 21st of March An unforgivable mistake if Leeds don’t keep Redfearn – Hay YEP The truth is that if Neil Redfearn was staying and Massimo Cellino was staying, Leeds United’s head coach would know already. That’s not to say that either man is futureless here but the chronic indecision around Redfearn’s job is self-explanatory if you think about it hard enough. There’s a vacuum of authority at Elland Road – yet another one – and only two ways of properly filling it. That Redfearn deserves a longer contract is the bleeding obvious in a few words. Leeds either believe in performance-related employment or they are cutting and shutting on a whim. It is equally true that Leeds minus Cellino might not feel able to commit to a new deal. The club are impotent on the big questions without his say-so. Redfearn came to realise that a long time ago. In the interests of clarity, and not merely in respect of Redfearn’s future, United need one of two things to happen: Cellino to return with all his guns loaded or Cellino to up sticks and sell. He is ducking and diving on that issue, unwilling to say which scenario is likely, and differentiating between his position and that of Redfearn misses the point. One needs the other to act. Still, the treatment of Redfearn in light of his performance is less than decent. The club could do more than leave him to dangle and play a game of join-the-dots of a few vague promises. He has been asked to organise a pre-season schedule and to offer suggestions for the transfer window but Leeds need a plan for the summer, with or without him. Their programme last year was put together so hastily that it resulted in two pointless friendlies in Italy (one of which did not involve any opposition). A game at Swindon Town only came to pass because David Hockaday pulled a few strings at his former club and persuaded them to back out of a pre-arranged game with Charlton. As for transfer targets, Redfearn has been invited to submit lists of players before. The names he put forward for this emergency loan window are either on file or in the bin. He’s been around football long enough to realise that a signed deal outweighs any of these nods and winks. There is a way of committing to a head coach and talking to him about a summer which he and his assistant, Steve Thompson, are not yet contracted for is hardly it. It becomes apparent when you question Redfearn that his job is not being addressed in any real sense. He sounds thoroughly uninformed on the subject of Cellino’s intentions and the question of what Cellino is really thinking. Whether Cellino knows himself is hard to say but it would not hurt him to make it clear – and make it clear publicly – that if will-power and circumstances allow him to return to Elland Road as owner, Redfearn is his man. It is not as if the 58-year-old is banned sine die. This specific Football League disqualification ends in 42 days’ time. You question in any event whether a new owner would be so irate about having a productive coaching team under contract and already in place. Redfearn is an asset however the land lies. There is, needless to say, an alternative; that Redfearn and Thompson are not for Cellino. It’s a nonsensical thought when their record is taken into account (Thompson’s in particular is virtually bullet-proof, as is his popularity at Thorp Arch) but Cellino has a habit of finding fault with his coaching staff. Redfearn would struggle to take rejection but he might still appreciate the honesty. And he won’t fail to land another job. Thompson, too, was highly thought-of in Football League circles long before he came to Leeds. What the players would make of Redfearn’s departure is easy to guess. There was a time this season when the squad’s performance was so poor that their opinion on the coaching team counted for little but there is merit in heeding the body language of a side who are settled and in tune. Not everyone is happy. It’s no secret that Mirco Antenucci has cut an annoyed figure recently – resulting in a highly dubious link to Norwich City last week – but he has no argument with United’s form and, on that basis, no argument with Redfearn. As for the young spine in the current team, they need a philosophy to believe in. Two of them, Sam Byram and Lewis Cook, are out of contract in 15 months’ time. Their motivation for staying put under Redfearn – total faith, regular appearances – could diminish rapidly under another coach. Hockaday did not use Alex Mowatt once. He did not feel confident enough to give Cook a league debut. They have found before that talent is not always seen as talent. There was no purpose at Elland Road back then and no vision on the playing side. As head coach, Redfearn has risked his neck and taken the club onto higher ground. It would be typical of Leeds United if the club decided to tear it all up and start again. It would also be an unforgivable mistake.

Soccer - Capital One Cup - Third Round - Fulham v Doncaster Rovers - Craven Cottage

McCormack’s Fulham humbled by Leeds


Murphy in a rich vein of form

Weds March 18th FULHAM 0, Leeds 3 (Byram 40, Bamba 48, Antenucci 88). United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Bamba, Berardi, Cook, Murphy, C Taylor, Mowatt (Antenucci 82), Byram, Sharp (Morison 67). Subs. S Taylor, Cooper, Sloth, Doukara, Cani. Referee: C Kavanagh Booked: Stafylidis (Fulham), Sharp, Bamba (United) Sent-Off: Stafylidis (Fulham) Att: 19,200. The midweek trip to Fulham saw United head coach Neil Redfearn make just one change from the goalless draw with Nottingham Forest as Sam Byram returned from injury to replace Steve Morison on the right of attack. The hosts started on the front foot and carved the evening’s first sight of goal after just six minutes. The ball found its way to Ross McCormack inside the area but Marco Silvestri was equal to his effort, denying the former United striker with a strong, two-handed save down to his left. Silvestri then acrobatically tipped a dipping Bryan Ruiz strike over the bar before Konstantinos Stafylidis forced the Italian into another low stop from range in a frenetic start to proceedings at Craven Cottage. And the early Fulham onslaught showed no signs of easing for Redfearn’s side as another ex-United man, Matt Smith, saw his towering header pushed away after being found by McCormack’s floated ball over the top. There were looks of disbelief among the home fans as the resulting Ruiz corner clipped the crossbar. United were looking for ways to stem the tide after riding their luck somewhat inside the first 20 minutes, but Fulham continued to press and perhaps their best opening fell to Smith at the back post following McCormack’s free-kick, but he could only nod wide from six yards out. United’s first sniff at the opposite end came inside the 22nd minute as Giuseppe Bellusci tried his luck from range, only to see his speculative half-volley bounce into the arms of Cottagers goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli. A brief spell of United possession followed, before Fulham had the ball in the back of the net on 31 minutes, but McCormack’s side-footed volley was ruled out for offside after meeting Smith’s downwards header inside the area. Further chances for McCormack and full-back Tim Hoogland came for Fulham before half-time, but it was United who eventually broke the deadlock on the 40th minute to the delight of the travelling army. A pin-point cross from Gaetano Berardi out on the left found Byram arriving unmarked inside the area, and the 21-year-old, now the top appearance maker currently at the club, guided his header into the ground and beyond the helpless Bettinelli to take a slender lead into the break. The two sides re-emerged unchanged and United got the second half off to a dream start as Sol Bamba doubled the lead within three minutes of the restart. Alex Mowatt’s corner was allowed to bounce inside the area and Bamba stormed in at the back post to power a header into the top corner for his first goal in United colours. And things went from bad to worse for the hosts two minutes later as Stafylidis, initially booked for dissent in the aftermath of Bamba’s goal, was shown a second yellow card by referee Chris Kavanagh after bringing down Byram by the corner flag. The one-man advantage soon became visible as United started to dominate possession inside the Fulham half. Mowatt tested Bettinelli from outside the area, but the goalkeeper was able to clutch his low strike. Fulham’s goal-threat remained, though, particularly from set-pieces, as Michael Turner crashed a header against Silvestri’s far post and Smith drilled wide in a timely reminder of the hosts’ capabilities. Morison was introduced by Redfearn, replacing Sharp on 67 minutes, and the striker could have extended the lead even further if it wasn’t for the last-ditch interception of a white shirt inside the area to cut out Byram’s low cross. Another bout of Fulham pressure followed and Smith twice spurned good chances in front of goal, powering a back-post header wide before firing into the grateful arms of Silvestri after substitute Alexander Kacaniklic had carved an opening. McCormack then glanced a close-range header inches wide, but it proved to be his final contribution as he made way for Seko Fofana with seven minutes remaining on the clock after pulling up injured. United themselves made a change in the closing stages, replacing Mowatt with Mirco Antenucci. And the Italian striker was soon able to add his ninth goal of the campaign from inside the area after some industrious play from Byram down the right, skinning his man before Bettinelli pushed his cross into Antenucci’s path to hammer home on the rebound. At the opposite end, though, Silvestri’s work was not done and the United stopper pulled off another stunning reflex save to push away Kacaniklic’s searing strike inside the four minutes of stoppage time. Redfearn: “All the signs are there that I’ll be here next season. Club want me to plan pre-season.” That’s five wins from our last six on the road. Promotion form really. Time now to nail down the quality and supplement them with four or five good additions and really push on next season for promotion

Tues March 17th “We have the best midfield in the division” – Redfearn LEEDS UNITED head coach Neil Redfearn has paid his central midfield department a sizeable compliment – labelling them as ‘probably the best in the Championship.’United, who travel to Fulham tomorrow night for a reunion with former strikers Ross McCormack and Matt Smith, are enjoying a new year renaissance with the form of the likes of Lewis Cook, Luke Murphy and Alex Mowatt a key component in their upturn. Mowatt has chipped in with four goals in the past month and been named in the SkyBet Championship Team of the Week on two occasions, while Murphy has looked a player transformed this calendar year following a fraught first half of the season. Both have played their part in United’s buoyant run of seven victories in their past 13 league matches, with teenager Cook instrumental in a number of those wins. Nottingham Forest manager Dougie Freedman referred to Cook as United’s dangerman ahead of Saturday’s 0-0 draw, with the 18-year-old already one of the hottest properties in the Championship along with Mowatt. Redfearn said: “Lewis is a fantastic young talent and part of a really strong midfield.“He is obviously going to get that sort of attention and our midfield is playing well. “We have probably the best midfield in this division, centrally and teams are going to try and stop it.We have talked about rotating around to get the spare man on the ball through the last week and I felt we did it quite well (on Saturday), to be fair.” Tomorrow’s trip to Fulham is the first leg of an away double-header, with United travelling to rock-bottom Blackpool 72 hours later. The Craven Cottage clash is likely to come too soon for the injured duo Rudy Austin (thigh) and Sam Byram (foot), with Redfearn set to experiment and look at one or two more of his academy products in the games and weeks ahead. Kalvin Phillips and Lewis Walters have both been on the bench in recent games, with Redfearn expected to have a closer look at them at senior level in the not too distant future, with Leeds comfortable in mid-table and able to start planning for next season. Redfearn said: “We know about some of the players from previous games. There are players out of the picture now who were playing before and we know about them. “We’ll maybe experiment and try one or two things. We’ve got one or two young players. “There are a couple of players I’d like to see before the end of the season. “There might be a point where we change it around a little bit. But if it’s not broke and you’re playing well, you don’t fix it.“I’ve got a good idea of what the players here are about. But sometimes you need to experiment just to see how they actually look in the heat of battle“There’s a difference between and Under-21 game or training and actually being out there in front of 30,000 at Elland Road. There’s that to think about, but there’s time yet. “But it’s important that we still keep some momentum because momentum’s an important thing, especially when you’re going to try and hit the ground running next season.” United under-21s face Crystal Palace today at Tooting and Mitcham FC (2pm), with loan signing Granddi Ngoyi to feature after shrugging off a thigh problem.

Mon March 15th Rejuvenated players enjoy winning feeling – YEP For Scott Wootton, Charlie Taylor, Luke Murphy, Sol Bamba and Steve Morison, sampling defeats in the Leeds United jersey so far in 2015 have hardly been a regular occurrence. Morison has been on the losing side just twice in 12 appearances for United this year, while Wootton has tasted defeat just three times in 13 outings. For Morison, it is in stark contrast to the first half of the campaign, when he was on the winning side just once in seven appearances, the 3-0 derby success over Huddersfield Town at Elland Road on September 20. Wootton was also part of a winning Leeds dressing room on just one occasion in the first half of 2014-15 when United beat Bolton Wanderers 1-0 on August 30. United have lost on just three occasions when Murphy and Taylor have lined up for them this calendar year, with the pair having not looked back after being brought back into the fold for the FA Cup third-round tie against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on January 4. For Murphy in particular, it is somewhat of a turnaround in his fortunes. A grim first half of the season to forget saw him dismissed in David Hockaday’s final game in charge, the 2-1 Capital One Cup exit at near-neighbours Bradford City on August 27. The former Crewe Alexandra schemer’s last game of 2014 was the 2-1 defeat to Wolves at Elland Road on October 25, the final act of Darko Milanic short-lived six-match spell in charge of the club. Meanwhile, Bamba has been part of a losing side just three times in ten United outings.

Mon Tues 16th. Time now to plan for next season – Eddie Gray For me, I do think it is time for us as a club to get our thinking caps on and start seriously preparing for next season now. Because you have to consider the teams who are probably going to come down. QPR have done it before in terms of going down and going back up, Leicester City too. Whoever drops down from the Premier League are going to be a threat with the financial clout, too. Those who come down from the Premier League are going to be a threat with their financial clout, too. Those who are relegated will know the Championship as well and it won’t be a shock to say QPR, Leicester and Burnley. Even Sunderland, who are in trouble They will all realise what it takes to get back up to the Premier League. Neil Redfearn has got to start getting organised and be thinking: ‘Right, who are we going to bring in to make us contenders next year?’ It is no good next season being like this one, with us in mid-table. Look at the crowd on Saturday; if that had been a top six game, it would have been a full house. That’s how we have got to look at it. Saturday was a tremendous crowd to see two teams who are basically mid-table. The expectation level is there for the fans and we have to give them something in return now to try and encourage them to get behind the team and buy season tickets for next term. We don’t want to be languishing next year, especially with the money Premier League teams will get now if they are relegated thanks to the TV deals. But we are making progress and I don’t think there’s any doubt that Neil will start to introduce one or two more of the young boys to see if they can play at this level in the Championship and cope. Saturday was the type of game where you want to look at your young players – to see if they can cope with a big crowd and the expectation level going up when the crowd is there. The disappointing thing for us is that we didn’t win the game and there weren’t any goals for the supporters to cheer.Saturday wasn’t a great game. I thought the midfield players did well in the first half, but for me, we can still can improve our final ball and it’s something the players have got to work on. We need to take more care in the final third of the pitch. We actually got in some great areas. Nottingham Forest were the same with (Michail) Antonio, but he didn’t know whether he was going to cross or shoot. The lesson to learn for me is that we have to be more ruthless in the last third. The game sort of fizzled out a bit. With 20 minutes to go, it looked like finishing 0-0 and we didn’t look like scoring.  It was two sides on a good run, but the performances didn’t do either justice. It was disappointing in front of a big crowd for us as we want to keep them here and for them to come back week-in, week-out. Defensively, Neil has got to be pleased as it’s another game without conceding a goal, which has been our Achilles heel in the past. I thought (Sol) Bamba did well, although he was a bit erratic at times. Luke Murphy played well in the first half, but their midfielders took a better grip of the game in the second half than we did.  Our midfielders drifted out of the game a little bit and couldn’t sustain the momentum they had in the first half for 90 minutes. I was actually a bit surprised Dougie (Freedman) didn’t change it in the second half for Forest. I thought he’d have thrown a few players on as they needed to win the game to have a realistic chance of getting into the top six, really. Fair play to Neil, he threw a couple of strikers on there and took one of his midfield players off and at least tried to win the game. I was surprised Forest didn’t try to win the game that way, although I am not sure how much they had on the bench, although some would have been forward players. I wouldn’t have thought it would have made any difference to them by putting a few on and saying: ‘Let’s have a bash.’ Neil did that in fairness, I’ve got to say. Although both sides did not look to have a threat on goal. I watched the Middlesbrough game beforehand against Ipswich and they did. You need that threat in front of goal.


The battle of the beards

Sat March 14th Norwich want Antenucci According to various media reports in Yorkshire tonight, Norwich City have been knocked back in a bid to sign Leeds’ striker, Mirco Antenucci. The Italian joined Leeds last summer from Ternana and started the season as a regular, scoring eight goals. Recently though, the 30 year old has been used mainly as a substitute with manager Neil Redfearn opting to use Billy Sharp and Steve Morison (!) instead. Given his lack of game time recently, it isn’t too much of a stretch to see him loaned out but Redfearn told Yorkshire Evening Post journalist, Phil Hay that he’s desperate not to lose Antenucci because he still values him and wants him to be a member of the Leeds squad. Clearly, we’re looking for a new front man but it’s looking like this lad isn’t the one.


Morison v Forest


The large crowd back Redfearn

Sat March 14th Leeds 0, Notts Forest 0 United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Bellusci, Berardi, Cook, Murphy, Mowatt, C Taylor (Doukara 79), Morison (Antenucci 67), Sharp. Subs. S Taylor, Cooper, Sloth, Phillips, Cani. Referee: K Hill Booked: Bellusci, Morison, Mowatt, Murphy (United) Att: 30,722 (2,657 Forest) Report from Official website The visit of Nottingham Forest saw United head coach Neil Redfearn name an unchanged starting line-up from the previous weekend’s 1-0 victory away to Wigan. Liam Cooper and Casper Sloth returned from injury to occupy places among the substitutes, but the game came too soon for Sam Byram and Rodolph Austin. Backed by the biggest Elland Road crowd of the season so far, it was United who made the brighter start as Steve Morison headed into Karl Darlow’s arms after some fine build-up play involving Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt, with Redfearn’s side probing for an early way through. And the best opening of the early stages came inside the 10th minute through the unlikely source of Charlie Taylor. Some persistent play down the right from Mowatt teed up Luke Murphy on the edge of the box and his effort deflected kindly into the path of Taylor at the back post, only for Darlow to deny him a first United goal with a sprawling save. It took Forest 21 minutes to muster their first sight of goal but Marco Silvestri was equal to it and comfortably clutched Ben Osborn’s curling effort from just outside the box. At the opposite end, Steve Morison glanced wide from an inviting Mowatt free-kick as the deadlock remained intact. It was an end-to-end start to proceedings and the United defence needed to stand firm to block Osborn in front of goal before Jamaal Lascelles turned the resulting corner over the bar from close-range with a scuffed effort into the ground. The lively Michail Antonio then dragged wide for the visitors after cutting in from the right, while Taylor could only curl into the arms of Darlow following another swift United break up-field. On the stroke of half-time, Taylor’s cross was blocked by Darlow at his near post after a surging run down the left, and referee Keith Hill signalled for the break after a largely even but ultimately goalless opening 45 minutes with chances for both sides. The two teams re-emerged unchanged and it was Forest who had the second half’s first sight of goal as Antonio dragged harmlessly into Silvestri’s arms. United soon stepped things up, though, and Billy Sharp just found himself crowded out inside the area as he looked to meet Morison’s flick after a long throw from full-back Gaetano Berardi. It was a lively start to the second period and Taylor was threatening again down the left, this time latching onto Osborn’s loose ball and driving forward before lashing a dipping strike over Darlow’s crossbar. Silvestri then had to be alert to rush off his line and smother at the feet of the advancing Antonio as the game passed the hour-mark. Redfearn was prompted into his first substitution of the afternoon on 67 minutes, replacing Morison with Mirco Antenucci out on the right, but it was Forest the better of the play as former United loanee Eric Lichaj fired into the arms of Silvestri from range. And the Italian shot-stopper came to United’s rescue moments later, getting down sharply to his right to push away Chris Burke’s low strike which looked destined for the bottom corner with a strong, one-handed save. Souleymane Doukara was introduced for Taylor as the game approached its final 10 minutes, with the three forwards on the pitch seeming to suggest that a solitary point was hardly on Redfearn’s agenda. A bout of United pressure followed as Mowatt’s side-footed effort was blocked in front of goal before Darlow got down well to clutch Antenucci’s drilled rebound after the ball had rolled kindly into his path. The game entered four minutes of stoppage time and Henri Lansbury floated a free-kick over Silvestri’s bar, but there proved to be no way through for either side as the spoils were shared. Unfortunately Terry McQuaid couldn’t roar the Whites on to a victory as lack of quality on show failed to penetrate the Forest defence defence. We need natural wingers and playing Morison out wide defies logic. Stiill it’s another point on the board but at this of the season maybe it’s time we shoule be looking at some players coming through from Thorp Arch. Surely there must be some better wide options available than sticking the game Morison outbthere ? Post Match Redfearn on Antenucci to Norwich link: “I rate Antenucci highly and he’s part of what we’re trying to do. There’s no way I want him to go.” Redfearn on Morison: “It’s not his natural position. He’s got my backing and I’m on his side. I respect him as a professional.” Redfearn: When I took the job full time, my remit was just to keep us in the Championship. We were only two points above the drop.” “I’ve got to be pleased with the performance. We looked good at the back. We just needed a bit of quality to get us over the line” “We had the best chance in the game and Charlie Taylor should have scored. But after that chances were few and far between.” Dougie Freedman was happy to go home with a draw and said: “Because of the run we’re on and the standards we’ve set, we expect to win games. “We have to be realistic and to come to Leeds and get a point is a good result. We were the better team, I think we had the better chances. When we take a deep breath on Monday morning it’ll still be a good point.” Forest sit eight points outside of the top six and their slim play-off hopes remain alive. “We’ve been an outside chance before the game and still are,” “We have to play Wolves and Brentford, and we can see where we are. We came to Leeds and didn’t get beat – an achievement on its own.”

Fri March 12tht Viviani moves forward while Leed stall In the summer Leeds United were chasing plenty of talented Italian based players. The likes of Mirco Antenucci, Marco Silvestri, Tommaso Bianchi and many more all made the switch, but they didn’t land all their targets. One player they were keen on was AS Roma midfielder Federico Viviani. He came within inches of signing for Championship side Leeds United in the summer. The club, through Italian owner Massimo Cellino. had plenty of contacts within Italian football and Viviani was identified as a target. It was reported by the Daily Mail at the end of July that Leeds were ready to ‘seal the deal’ for the player. But at the beginning of August Cellino confirmed to Sky Sports that the move was off, citing his demands as the reason behind the collapse of a deal: He (Viviani) is not coming. He is a good player, a talented player, but I cannot sign someone like that. “All last week it was demands about this, demands about that, asking for more and more so eventually I said ‘enough’.” It is now proving a real missed opportunity for Leeds. He scored again yesterday for the team he eventually did join on loan, Latina. It was his seventh goal for the club this season, in what has been a campaign which caught the eye of Italian national coach Antonio Conte back in February, as Latina defeated Brescia 2-1 away from home. Now he has proved himself in the second tier of Italian football, in fact excelled himself, Roma are likely to give him a go in the first-team next season or send him out on loan to a lower team in Serie A. Unfortunately for Leeds it seems this mercurial midfielder was an opportunity missed. Weds 11th of March Ngoyi signing without a medical highlights signing shambles – From I hate Leeds Ngoyi signing without a medical highlights transfer shambles at Leeds. Not that Granddi Ngoyi is a bad player, I have no idea how good he is, but the fact he’s only just nearing fitness now highlights an appalling disconnect at Leeds. How a club like ours can sign a player without conducting a medical is absurd, especially when the man in question is known to be carrying one. Shambolic.



I’ve delayed writing this for a while because there were bigger, more important matters worth discussing. An unknown entity joining the club and immediately being rendered useless was largely a moot point when we were languishing at the bottom of the Championship.  But now that our survival is largely assured and we’re able to start considering rotating the squad, trying different systems and assessing what business we intend to do in the Summer, the Ngoyi situation is worth discussing. “Highly rated” is perhaps a stretch for the ex-PSG man, but big Sol Bamba said the following about him: : “He’s a very good player. Physically and technically he can help the team” And that sounds like a good quality to have in the squad; Cook and Murph have been incredible in central midfield (hell, “Million Dollar Murph: The Reborn” has been smashing it in terms of tackles in the middle of the pitch) but having a traditional, technical ball-winning midfielder could be useful. Assuming Ngoyi has the Rudy Austin physicality and energy, in addition to some more desirable holding midfielder traits.  I can see WHY he was a good target, but the means in which we obtained him is genuinely absurd. Signing without a medical madness While I don’t dispute Ngoyi’s supposed abilities and am certainly on board with strengthening our options in central midfield, the needlessly blasé manner in which he was recruited is a massive concern.  You see, we’re restricted in how many players we can have in the squad and we’re rather restricted in terms of finances too. Whether you believe that Fuhrer Massimo is the 9th wealthiest man since the dawn of sliced bread or not is irrelevant, Leeds are not a rich club and money is tight.  Money has always been tight in the post-Ridsdale era, so the notion of signing players recklessly makes me uncomfortable.   Signing policy and a sustainable, healthy future The youngest of our fans won’t contort with Pavlovian misery at the mention of Seth Johnson, but those over 25 will.  You see, I have quite strong opinions over how to make a sustainable, profitable football club.  Some of these opinions are from witnessing the footballing Seppuku that Leeds have committed time and time again, others are from a lifetime of playing Football Manager (and Championship Manager before it).  Naive? Probably. But tell me I’m wrong. The board and manager (or El Presidente and head watermelon in this case) need to be united in their vision for how to move forwards.  They will together identify areas of the squad that need strengthening and collaborate on how to achieve this within the varied spectrum of feasibility, financial constraint and future planning.  This means that if a manager wants a ball-winning midfielder, they coordinate with the appropriate figures at the club to progress this.  In Leeds’ position our tactic should be pretty easy:

  • Preferably on loan with a view to buy
  • Fit and healthy
  • First team experience in a comparable league
  • Not be 33 years old, unless named “Michael Brown”
  • Not someone Neil Warnock thinks “could do a job”
  • Able to be placed on a wage within the existing structure

We all know that the way to create sustainable success at a club like Leeds is to invest in the younger end of the scale and augment that squad with experience.  That way you’re not paying silly money for anyone, nor paying silly wages. If your younger players turn out to be brilliant you’ll either get promoted or injected with huge sums of cash from the Premiership elite.  Ideally the former, but at the end of the day football is a business and all non-Premiership sides have their price, it happens. But signing a player without a medical shows a very relaxed approach to something very serious.  Imagine if January and February went badly and we were in Wigan’s position – consider how much anger there would be towards Cellino and Salerno for wasting money on a player who isn’t fit. When we could have brought in a different player who might have helped us out.  The theoretical spectrum of failure when you’re this gung-ho in your signing strategy is wide and we’re not in the position to be taking those risks. We’re tight financially, tight in squad-terms and (as shown this season) the Championship is so tight taking clumsy liberties in your signings can do real, long-term damage. Yes, we’ve been fine because we’ve turned things round and I’m sure Ngoyi will be a good player, this is less about him and more about the process that allowed it to happen. A football club that signs a player without a medical is one that signs people based on reputation alone. It means we’re likely signing players because Nicola Salerno likes them. Read that statement back and tell me it’s not a worrying concept. Fortunately we have an academy filled with gems and a signing policy that – whilst shooting from the hip – can, on occasion, give us a decent player. We also have a good head coach. But we need to be smarter than this, we can’t be signing players because one man is friends with their agent (a suspicion of mine) and forgoing the formalities that exist to protect the football club. If we were the richest club in England then I’d let it slide, but when your Italian President/dictator stomps around Elland Road turning off lights (before the restraining order that is), one has to assume we’re less Singapore Airlines and more Stanningley Cars. On and on.


Kalvin Philips – another star coming through Thorp Arch

Tuesday 10th of March Future looks bright with kids Neil Redfearn says he “wouldn’t hesitate” in giving first-team opportunities to any of the club’s youngsters after watching the Under-21s run riot in Monday’s “outstanding” 5-0 thrashing of Huddersfield Town. The head coach was present in the stands at the John Smith’s Stadium as goals from Dario Del Fabro, Brian Montenegro, Chris Dawson (penalty), Kalvin Phillips and Ross Killock put the 10-man Terriers to the sword in convincing fashion. Both Phillips and Lewis Walters have been among Redfearn’s substitutes in recent weeks, with the head coach already thinking about adding to the four Academy graduates – Sam Byram, Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook and Charlie Taylor – who have been regulars in his side this season.It’s good to look at everything and, if the opportunity arises, I wouldn’t hesitate to put any of these boys in,” said Redfearn. “They’ve proved that they’re good enough and the lads underneath are pushing them as well. “It’s a healthy situation to have. It’s always good to have good young players, your future is always your kids and the future looks really bright”. On the Under-21s’ Yorkshire derby victory, Redfearn added: “I thought it was an outstanding performance, there was some great football played. “They’re usually close games against Huddersfield and keenly contested, but we were by far and away the better side. “We started off well, got an early goal and the boys played some polished football. The goals were the icing on the cake in a really good performance.” Phillips was handed a place among the substitutes for the second time this season in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Wigan, and although the midfielder was not called upon at the DW Stadium, Redfearn is confident a first-team debut is just a matter of time. The 19-year-old added the fourth for United’s youngsters at Huddersfield with a stunning strike from range, leaving Joe Murphy helpless as it flew fiercely beyond the Town goalkeeper on 73 minutes. Redfearn said: “It was an outstanding finish. He’s capable of that sort of thing, he’s a powerful boy. “He’s got a hammer of a right foot, it dropped for him on the edge of the box and he struck it beautifully. The keeper had no chance. He’s capable of that. Asked if Phillips is close to a first-team chance, Redfearn replied: “I think so. He was a sub on Saturday and, to be honest, I wouldn’t have hesitated to have thrown him on if I thought we’d have needed him because I think he’s capable. “He’s more than capable of going in there and holding his own. He’s physically capable with a great technique. He’d probably add us a different dimension with his range of passing as well.” The Under-21s’ victory capped a productive couple of days for the youth teams, with United’s Under-18s also enjoying an impressive victory over the Terriers on Saturday – winning 3-0 at Thorp Arch – as confidence runs high throughout the club. “It always helps if your first team is winning because it makes it a happier club,” said the head coach. “But the young boys have been playing well all season and we’re getting youngsters breaking through – obviously there’s Byram, Cook, Mowatt and Taylor. “And we’ve got players who played on Monday – Kalvin Phillips was on the bench on Saturday, he played ever so well and scored again. “Lewis Walters has been on the bench, he looked bright again and young Chris Dawson looked back to his sharp self so it’s a really good plus. “I thought the two centre-backs, Killock and Del Fabro, looked really assured. “They defended well, cleared their lines well, organised and got the side up the pitch. They both scored as well which is a real plus.” Young midfielder Kalvin Phillips is hopeful that his first-team debut may not be too far away after being named among the substitutes for Saturday’s 1-0 win at Wigan. Neil Redfearn is a keen admirer and described the 19-year-old as “more than capable” of slotting into his side after seeing Phillips play a starring role in the Under-21s’ 5-0 demolition of Huddersfield Town. The all-action centre-midfielder was on target at the John Smith’s Stadium on Monday afternoon, taking his U21s tally to six for the season with an unstoppable long-range strike on 73 minutes. The Academy product, who was also on the bench at Sunderland back in January, says being part of Redfearn’s 18-man squad at the DW Stadium has provided a huge lift to his belief as he bides his time for an opportunity. “It was a massive a boost,” said Phillips. “My confidence is up here right now. “I’m just happy to be playing and getting goals. “I think I’m quite close. Steve Thompson has been saying that I’m not a million miles away so hopefully it will come soon. “I just take it as it comes. I work the hardest I can in training everyday so hopefully Redders and Thommo, like they have, will spot it. “It’s been quite hard sometimes but everybody in the team has been playing well. “Redders has been saying that we’re the future. It’s a great time to be at the club.” Phillips was joined on the scoresheet at Huddersfield by Dario Del Fabro, Brian Montenegro, Chris Dawson and Ross Killock, with the hosts reduced to 10-men for a handball inside the area during the early stages of the second half. On his goal, Phillips said: “We played well down the right. Dawson did well, gave it to Purver and I just thought ‘why not’ and had a hit. “I knew straightaway that it was going in. I’d say it was about third in the goals I’ve scored, it was a good goal. “We came here knowing that Huddersfield were going to be a tough test because they’re at the top of the league. “We gave them a game in the first half and I think the red card in the second half just threw them a little bit.”


Eddie Gray

Monday March 9th. Now United are ‘safe’ they need to start planning for next term – Gray It’s been a good week for Leeds United with two wins on the bounce.It was a good victory against Ipswich on Wednesday night and a decent result on Saturday at Wigan. It wasn’t a great game at the DW Stadium, but Leeds are getting into the winning habit and that’s a good thing for the club. It was a super goal from Alex Mowatt again and we dug in. Obviously, Neil Redfearn had to make some changes with Sam Byram not fit and Liam Cooper injured as well. He had to change the side by bringing in Gaetano Berardi and Steve Morison and he will be delighted with the way his players responded. That’s now seven wins out of 10 – or 21 points out of 30 – and it’s promotion form is that. Money talks, but hopefully we can hold on to the young players we have got as I think that’s going to be vital. If you do that every week through the season you are going to be champions, really! That’s top form and the team can go into things with confidence now. United will want to finish as high as they can and when you look at the league table, they have got 10 games left. To have any chance of getting into the top six in my opinion, you’d have to win all 10 of them. Seven out of ten wouldn’t be good enough. If Leeds do take maximum points then it may be possible and you just go into every game trying to win it, starting with a tough match next Saturday at home to Nottingham Forest. I think we are still too far away to make the shake-up and I think you are looking at the top seven in the Championship to be fighting it out for promotion and play-off places and that’s it, really. The good thing for the club now is there is a bit of optimism around the place and hopefully we can go forward. You can say now that we are going to be in the Championship next season and I think what the club have got to do is start planning for the next campaign. We need to get a list of players that are capable of getting United into the top six and that’s got to be the priority. It means keeping the young players at the club as they are progressing and it was a terrific goal again on Saturday for Alex Mowatt. He’s in great goalscoring form and he is the type of player we need to keep, along with Lewis Cook, Sam Byram and Charlie Taylor as he has done well, too. Money talks, but hopefully we can hold on to the young players we’ve got as I think that’s going to be vital. Football is a strange game and you can never tell but I would think the club would tie up the players. The young boys have got big futures ahead of them, but I don’t think it would do them any harm to give it at least another go with our club next season and see what happens. And they are going to need good players around them as they cannot do it on their own. You have got clubs with a lot of good players and you look at Derby County. They have got some fine young talent and they are still not guaranteed to go up. You need a solid team and a solid squad but what we can say is that the young players look as though they are going to be the backbone and foundation of a good side. I just think you’ve got to get everything put in place for the start of next season. It’s no good two or three months into the season trying to get it all tied up. If you do that then you are mid-table again. If you hit the ground running at start of the campaign you can get off to a good start. That’s been our problem this season, not getting off to a good start and then you are languishing. Normally, if you had just won seven of your past 10 games you would expect to be up there at the business end. It just shows goes to show you how poor we were at the early stage of the season. All in all, I think Neil Redfearn and his staff and the players deserve a lot of credit for the results they have put together. We’ll have to wait and see what happens but Neil has done very well and you would expect things to get sorted out but we don’t really know what’s happening about the club yet. The owner is away now until the end of the season so when he comes back and sits down with Neil then everything will be made clearer in what direction we are going to go.


Bamba saluted the travelling Leeds fans

Mon March 9th. We see that every day” – Bamba Leeds United defender Sol Bamba saluted the match-winning talent of Alex Mowatt after Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic, saying: “We see goals like that from him in training every day.” The Ivory Coast international admitted that Leeds had been forced to “dig deep” in their defence of Mowatt’s 51st-minute winner on a difficult pitch at the DW Stadium. Mowatt settled a hard and scrappy game with a brilliant 20-yard finish, his fourth goal in six games and the latest in a line of spectacular strikes from United’s 20-year-old academy product. The effort lit up a largely forgettable contest and pushed Malky Mackay’s Wigan closer to relegation from the Championship with 10 games to go. United climbed to 13th in the division and are on course to secure head coach Neil Redfearn’s target of a top-10 finish.Leeds held out during a steady onslaught from Wigan in the second half and on-loan Bamba stood out with a resilient performance in the centre of defence. But the centre-back gave credit to Mowatt afterwards, saying: It was a really well-taken goal. We see that from him every day in training and we’re delighted for him. “We did have to dig deep in the end and with one chance Wigan could have been in there but we feel we’ve done enough now to push on and look to get sorted for next season.” Whilst Mowatt will deservedly get the plauditd for another cracking strike, it was Bamba that was Leeds outstanding player of the day. Since his arrival in January he has hardly put a foot wrong and has been a towering presence in our back four whether playing alongside Bellusci or Cooper. How ironic it was Pearce playing for wigan that would have seen how good his replacement actuallty is. This is one player from Seria A that has actually proved worth the waith for. Sign him up for next season ! 

Sat March 7th WIGAN 0, Leeds 1 (Mowatt 51) United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Bamba, Berardi, Cook, Murphy, Mowatt, C Taylor, Morison (Cani 87), Sharp (Antenucci 87). Subs. S Taylor, Del Fabro, Adryan, Doukara, Phillips. Referee: G Eltringham Booked: Pearce (Wigan), Murphy, Bamba, Sharp, Wootton (United) Att: 16,163 (4,698 United) Report from LUFC officil website

The visit to Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium saw United head coach Neil Redfearn make two changes from the midweek victory over Ipswich Town as Gaetano Berardi replaced Liam Cooper in defence, while Steve Morison returned in place of Sam Byram.

There was little between the sides during the early stages but it was United who had the afternoon’s first sight of goal on eight minutes as Sol Bamba’s towering header was clutched by Scott Carson after Luke Murphy’s corner had found the defender rising inside the area.

Morison then lashed across the face of goal after being forced into a tight angle before Alex Mowatt dragged wide from the edge of the box as Redfearn’s side asked early questions of the hosts’ defence.

At the opposite end, Sheyi Ojo curled a cross inches away from Marco Silvestri’s far post, while Charlie Taylor threatened from range after being invited to shoot, only to see his effort fly over Carson’s bar.

Bamba had to stand firm to deny Wigan their first real opening, deflecting Kim Bo-Kyung’s strike behind for a corner, but it was United doing the majority of the pressing in a largely uneventful opening 35 minutes in Lancashire.

The best chance of the half came three minutes before the interval as Mowatt picked out the arriving Morison, unmarked inside the area with a cross from deep, but the striker blasted his volley high over the bar.

Berardi could only pick out the arms of Carson after trying his luck from range, while Silvestri had Marc-Antoine Fortune’s effort covered at his near post on the stroke of half-time.

The hosts started the second half on the front foot and half-time substitute Don Cowie was involved almost immediately, seeing his strike blocked by Giuseppe Bellusci inside the area, before Silvestri got down well to his right to push away James McClean’s low effort which appeared destined for the bottom corner.

But it was United who broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion within six minutes of the restart courtesy of Mowatt’s eighth of the season. Morison teed up the midfielder on the edge of the box and Mowatt hammered home his second goal in the space of a week with a stunning strike which had Carson flying across his line as it sailed into the top corner.

Wigan looked to mount a quick response and the United defence had to hold firm amid a flurry of balls into the box, before Silvestri was again alert to push away McClean’s low effort.

And the blue and white shirts continued to pile forward in search of an equaliser, but those in gold were equal to everything thrown their way. Taylor relieved some pressure on his side with an arrowed strike over the bar as the game passed the hour-mark.

The home crowd thought they had drawn level on 72 minutes as McClean’s ferocious half-volley skimmed the side-netting following further waves of pressure. Ojo was then inches away from an equaliser with a low strike across Silvestri’s goal and wide of the far post.

With the game entering the final 10 minutes, James Perch looped a header onto the roof of the net, before Redfearn was prompted into his first changes of the afternoon, replacing Morison and Sharp with Edgar Cani and Mirco Antenucci in attack.

Silvestri was forced into his finest save of the afternoon in the first of seven minutes added time, acrobatically tipping over McClean’s goal-bound free-kick. Harry Maguire then headed over the resulting corner before further spells of Wigan pressure, but United held on to secure back-to-back victories.

Redfean’s comments : What they showed today was a toughness and a resilience,” They’ve really competed, battled, fought and done the horrible stuff. “It was something that was labelled against us before the turn of the year but it’s something that we’ve found and got amongst ourselves now. “We’ve got a system that suits the majority and we’ve got a way of playing. “We knew the magnitude of the game today for both clubs and the importance of it for Wigan, but we didn’t want to be the team that came unstuck. “We’ve had a good day and we’ve got the points, which is the most important thing.” On the pitch, Redfearn added: “Football was at a premium, there was very little football played because of the surface. “It was an unforgiving surface. It was really worn and uneven. “But, as an away performance with a clean sheet, you can’t ask for anymore than that.” Mowatt’s rich vein of form in front of goal continued with his eighth of the season and his second in as many games, beating Scott Carson with a stunning strike on 51 minutes. Redfearn said: “I thought the goal was a great goal. “It was great work, a great bit of interplay into Billy and the lay-off to Alex. “It was a clinical finish and a goal fitting to win any game. “He gives us that bit of quality in and around the box. He was one of the players who stood out on a poor surface. “He’s capable, there are no two ways about it. His goal output is far, far better this season. “He’s capable of scoring goals, we saw him score a lot in the Under-21s when I had him . “Now he’s growing into himself and his career. He’s becoming a real polished performer and I thought you could see that today.”


Cellino has decided to stand down until the end of the season. I wonder if the football League and Cellino have come to deal with the other outstanding court cases against him in Italy ?

Friday 5th of March Cellino statement.The Football League, Leeds United and Massimo Cellino have settled the outstanding disciplinary proceedings relating to the club’s non disclosure of the Italian Court’s judgement regarding Mr Cellino as required under League regulations. The club and Mr Cellino have decided in the interests of the club, its players and supporters not to contest this charge. As a result, Mr Cellino’s period of disqualification as a ‘relevant person’, as defined by the regulations, has now been extended from April 10 until May 3, the day after the conclusion of the 2014/15 league season. Mr Cellino’s right to challenge the decision of the Professional Conduct Committee under Football Association Rule K is unaffected by this settlement

Weds March 6th Leeds 2 (Mowatt 71, Sharp 77) IPSWICH 1 (Sears 74). United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Bellusci, Cooper, Byram, Cook, Murphy, Mowatt, C Taylor (Antenucci 68), Sharp (Morison 86). Subs. S Taylor, Berardi, Sloth, Doukara, Cani. Referee: M Brown Booked: Bamba (United), Bru, Skuse (Ipswich) Att: 19,730 (674 Ipswich) Report from LUFC official website


Billy Sharp fires in the late winner against the Tractor Boys

The midweek visit of Ipswich Town saw United head coach Neil Redfearn make one change from the 3-2 defeat to Watford as Giuseppe Bellusci came in for the injured Rodolph Austin. It meant somewhat of a re-shuffle in the line-up as Liam Cooper shifted along to left-back, while Charlie Taylor pushed forward to occupy a place on the wing.

It was a fast-paced start to proceedings at Elland Road and the visitors had the ball in the back of the net inside the opening three minutes, only for the linesman’s flag to rule out a precise header from former United man Luke Varney.

Billy Sharp was soon in the thick of it inside the opposite penalty box, though, as his half-volley was blocked on the line by defender Tommy Smith after some industrious work down the right from Lewis Cook. Sol Bamba then looped a header onto the roof of the net following Alex Mowatt’s delivery in a relatively open first 20 minutes.

A subdued period followed as both sides exchanged possession and probed for openings without any meaningful chances until the 35th minute. Latching onto a loose ball, Sam Byram broke free down the right and whipped in a cross for Sharp, but the striker could only send his flying header over Bartosz Bialkowski’s bar amid claims of a shove inside the area.

Bamba glanced a header wide and the United defence stood firm to block Chris Wood inside the area but, otherwise, it was a largely forgettable opening 45 minutes as referee Mark Brown blew his whistle on a goalless first half.

Marco Silvestri was soon called into action within minutes of the two unchanged teams remerging, though, getting down quickly to his right to claw behind Tyrone Mings’ header which was destined for the bottom corner. Bamba and Scott Wootton then pulled off important blocks inside the area as Ipswich made a lively start to the second period.

Sharp found himself crowded out at the opposite end, his deflected effort just squirming into Bialkowski’s grateful arms, before another passage of play lacking in notable goalmouth action followed.

Ipswich sent on Kevin Bru and Daryl Murphy, while Redfearn replaced Taylor with Mirco Antenucci as both sides searched for a way to break the deadlock. “It was hard-fought,” said Redfearn. They’re a good side – a typical Championship side – and it was a battle. “We had the better passages of play and we looked the more controlled side. “How they play is how they play, but if you don’t deal with it then you come unstuck. “We said before the game that we’ve got more than what they’ve got in midfield. We won the second balls and we had to block them off in wide areas. “That was the reason for Coops playing at left-back and Charlie playing in front of him because it was all about crosses in the box for them and second balls. But I thought we dealt with that.” Sharp netted his second goal in as many games, taking his tally to five for the season, and Redfearn was full of praise for the in-form striker. “Goals breed goals,” said the head coach. “He’s got confidence from his goal on Saturday and I thought he played ever so well again. “He’s bright, he chases things down and he gives you energy. If you stick him in front of goal, he’ll finish. “I thought it was an outstanding finish on the turn.” Redfearn’s side had come unstuck in the reverse fixture back in December, suffering a 4-1 defeat, but the head coach was pleased with the improvements shown in Wednesday night’s victory and how they handled Mick McCarthy’s promotion-chasers. They’re a young side, they passed their way up there really well,” he said. “The pleasing thing for us it that it still resembled us – it still had our DNA. “I didn’t just want to match them up, go long and be physical; I wanted us to play as well. “That’s a measure of how far we’ve come. They’re a top-six side and they’ve been up there all season. “That’s another side at the top of the league that we’ve beaten so we must be doing something right.”

And the opening goal finally came on 71 minutes courtesy of Mowatt’s seventh of the season. Byram caught Tyrone Mings in possession and won a free-kick off the Ipswich full-back in an almost identical position to Mowatt’s match-winner against Millwall 18 days earlier.

The midfielder stepped up, again left-footed, but was not aided by a deflection this time as his curling strike left Bialkowski scrambling helplessly across his goalline, with the ball planting itself in the bottom corner to the delight of the home crowd.

But the visitors managed to hit back and pull themselves level just three minutes later as substitute Freddie Sears’ low strike crept underneath Silvestri down to his right.

It was a frantic period of play and United ‘s lead was restored within three minutes as Sharp fired home from inside the area. A great run and cross from the effervescent Cook picked out the unmarked striker and his pin-point volley on the turn flew into Bialkowski’s bottom right-hand corner.

The game had well and truly burst into life and Ipswich again went in search of an equaliser, with Silvestri reacting well to push away Mings’ low strike. Cook drilled into Bialkowski’s arms but there was soon a heart-in-mouth for the home crowd as Bamba was adjudged to have handled inside the area.

Substitute Daryl Murphy stepped up, but Silvestri made amends for Ipswich’s earlier goal with a superb save down to his right, tipping the spot-kick onto the post in front of the South Stand. A nervy finale ensued as Mings headed over Silvestri’s bar, but United held on to return to winning ways.