The only change from the side that won at Rotherham was the return from injury of keeper Boruc. Camp suffered a calf tear at Rotherham, so Allsop took his place on the bench. Leeds sacrificed top scorer Antenucci for midfielder Mowatt, in a bid to stifle the Cherries’ free flowing football.
In Baltic weather, Bournemouth started well. Following a Leeds corner, the ball was played up to Wilson, who ran at a retreating Leeds defence from inside his own half before dragging his shot wide of the right hand post. The tactic was to get the pacey Wilson in behind a pedestrian Leeds defence, but some of the balls forward were aimless. Wilson and Pugh were lively, but too often the Cherries over-elaborated and attacks fizzled out, with nobody willing to shoot.
Leeds weren’t affected by the on-going saga involving Massimo Cellino and his running of the club. With Lewis Cook prominent, the Whites chased and harried the league leaders into repeatedly losing possession and took the game to the visitors. Austin screwed a shot badly wide following Elphick’s error, had a header tipped over by Boruc, and went close with a long range effort. Boruc made excellent saves from Morison and Murphy. At the other end Wilson twice had shots blocked, and Pitman reacted quickest to Pugh’s low cross but shot agonisingly wide.
The Cherries didn’t attack the ball, were static when passing, and continued to give the ball away. Arter had a shocker: off the pace and missing challenges. The defence got away with a number of individual errors, but in the 36th minute Murphy wasn’t closed down and his superb left foot drive found the top corner.
Bournemouth responded: Silvestri denied Wilson, Pitman swept in the rebound, but was offside. Just before half time Wilson seemed certain to score but didn’t get enough on his header and Silvestri clung onto the ball on the line. Leeds could’ve led by more at the interval, but their final ball often let them down.
Eddie Howe resisted the temptation to make changes at half time. Shortly after the restart, Francis pulled back Mowatt running through on goal and escaped with a booking, and Austin shot wildly into row Z. Silvestri rushed out of his area and made a sliced clearance which fell to Ritchie, but his 35 yard effort went to the right of the target.
Not before time, on the hour Eddie made changes, Gosling and Kermorgant replacing Arter and Pitman. The Cherries took control and launched wave after wave of attacks. Wilson’s low cross from the right was dummied by Gosling but not anticipated by Kermorgant and the chance was lost, and then his cross from the left rolled agonisingly across the goalmouth with no Cherries player following up. Wilson burst clear down the right but his drag back from the byline trickled wide.
In the 64th minute Kermorgant cleverly played in Wilson, but from six yards out the striker inexplicably shot wide. Stanislas came on for a totally anonymous Ritchie, and Sharp replaced Morison for Leeds. Pugh’s left footed shot was blocked but could easily have fallen for Wilson. Boruc saved Bryam’s shot and Elphick cleared Austin’s follow up header off the line to keep the Cherries in the game. A right footed Pugh shot from the left hit the inside of the post and rebounded to safety. It was frustrating viewing for Bournemouth fans. And it got worse.
In the 85th minute, Wilson ran at the Leeds defence and was brought down by Bellusci. The Italian was the last man and was sent off for the second time this season. Referee Oliver Langford awarded a penalty, although the contact was outside the box, Kermorgant’s penalty hit the top of the bar. To the neutral, maybe justice was done. But to visiting fans, it confirmed the Cherries were not going to score.
This was Bournemouth’s first away defeat since 30th September, but their second defeat in three matches. The Championship is undoubtedly a tough league and it’s not possible to win every week. Despite having numerous chances, their terrible record at Elland Road continued; perhaps they are overawed playing there. An abundance of flair and pace count for nothing if you don’t stand up to your opponents and do the ugly things well. Leeds certainly did, and although they were hanging on at times in the second half, they arguably did enough in the first half to deserve the three points.
Leeds were there for the taking, but their current crop of young English players - particularly Cook, Byram, and Mowatt - suggest a brighter future for the Whites. For Bournemouth, Boruc made some fine saves, Pugh and Wilson were excellent, Gosling and Kermorgant made an impact when they came on. Perhaps Gosling and Stanislas deserve a run in the team in place of Arter and Ritchie.
The freezing temperatures saw Leeds lowest crowd of the season. Leeds fans joined in with the Cherries fans chants of “you’re living in the past.” There’s no truth in the rumour that the Leeds 204/2015 calendar features a different manager for each month. Indeed Neil Redfearn has lasted for nearly 3 months and must be in line for a Cellino long service award!
Wilson - ran the Leeds defence ragged with his pace and power.
AFCB: Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Wilson, Pitman.
Subs: Gosling (for Arter, 60 mins.), Smith, Kermorgant, (for Pitman, 60 mins.) Stanislas (or Ritchie, 72 mins.), Fraser, O’Kane, Allsop.
Mark Basden, Leeds