What a great three points that was today against Burnley! It wasn’t the greatest performance with the ball – but defensively we were absolutely outstanding.
Luke Ayling and Kalvin Phillips were magnificent, Pascal Struijk also well in a three. I don’t think Burnley will have expected Leeds to play a three like that, but it was the right thing to do against a team playing two up front. Ayling’s tenacity to win really shone through and Phillips bounced back from the Man United game last weekend by showing what he was all about once again.
Coming after that game, we’d all talked about keeping the back door shut – Marcelo Beilsa had fielded questions about whether he was prepared to sacrifice the style of play that has both served Leeds so well and led to defeats like that one at Old Trafford, and he was defiant in his reply to the doubters.
Against Burnley, it was a chalk and cheese game to the game at Man U, and while we could have done better at times, and were up against in the second half, you look at the way we defended and the final scoreline, and for me they were the big things.
I thought Patrick Bamford put a real shift in and he got his reward with the goal. It was a really well taken penalty. I think he was surprised to get in between Ben Mee and James Tarkovski because the mistakes they make are rare, but he capitalised with that penalty
In fairness to Burnley, you could see Sean Dyche’s point afterwards when he went running on the pitch to ask when he could speak with referee Robert Jones. They will have felt aggrieved that a number of 50/50 decisions went against them, not least in the first half when there appeared to be little wrong with Ashley Barnes’ goal when Ilian Meslier was adjudged to have bene fouled by Mee.
Burnley dominated the second half, but Leeds dealt with them really well. Burnley can grind results out, but they really need to create more opportunities for their two strikers. Chris Wood and Barnes are a handful but they didn’t get too many opportunities, and maybe that was down to our good defending. We got our blocks in, put bodies on the line, and Meslier made a couple of good saves when he was called upon.
I thought Patrick Bamford summed up it well afterwards when he said that we had defended brilliantly and that’s something that’s been missing from our game for a while.
It was a game of two halves, and it was one to grind out which we did, but the big thing for me is that we’ve proved we can win a game without a playing well and keep a clean sheet which was huge.