LEEDS United manager Simon Grayson (pictured) was pleased to pick up an important three points against Crystal Palace, but refused to get carried away by his side’s come from behind victory on Saturday.
Luciano Becchio marked his return to the first team with a second half headed goal and Ross McCormack scored an 84th minute winner to add to his early goal as Leeds came from 2-1 down to win 3-2. But it was a far from convincing performance and Grayson was not fooled.
He said: “It wasn’t a particularly good day at the office. I didn’t think we played well enough, we didn’t pass the ball well enough and we were exposed at times.
“But you can’t fault the players’ desire and spirit to keep going. It will say we won 3-2 and that’s all that matters.
“We needed a result and we got that. Full credit to the players.
“I do like my teams to play better than that. We needed to be better off the ball and we gave them too much time after getting off to a perfect start.
“I said to the players at half-time that they’d got an opportunity to get back into it. We needed to pass the ball quicker and get it into the wider areas and they showed tremendous spirit to get back into it.”
Grayson had words of praise for several of his players for their performance, including 17-year-old Charlie Taylor, who did not look out of place at left-back in his first start in the first team and set up the opening goal with a superb cross for McCormack to head home. A new star may have been born.
“Charlie Taylor for his full debut was excellent. He was composed and defended well,” added Grayson.
“I had no hesitation in playing him and I’m delighted for him. He will have thoroughly enjoyed his debut.
“Ross McCormack is showing all the attributes and quality we expected when we signed him.
“He was unfortunate last year. I was excited about his signing, but due to Snodgrass, Becchio, Howson and Gradel performing he didn’t get a run in the team. But he’s certainly doing that now and he’s playing with immense quality.
“There was no way Luciano could have started the game and no way he could have played for much longer than 25 minutes or so, but I thought it was the right time to bring him on because I thought he could effect the game. He did get the crowd going and that was the intention, to get some positivity about the team, knowing he was capable of getting on the end of things with McCormack and Snodgrass putting balls in the box.
“With Mikael Forssell coming on at the same time we thought we would have two players in there who would win the challenges and win the headers and that led to both goals.”
McCormack’s fifth goal of the season gave United a flying start as he headed home an impressive cross from Taylor, who showed real quality in the early stages in his first start at Elland Road.
But slack marking at the back allowed Palace to strike twice in nine minutes through Patrick McCarthy and Sean Scannell and the visitors’ pace on the break looked like bringing them further goals.
Leeds still looked dangerous themselves up front as Robert Snodgrass hit the post after Palace keeper Julian Speroni had only just kept out a smart Ramon Nunez free-kick and Speroni kept out efforts from McCormack and Nunez.
Home keeper Andy Lonergan saved well either side of half-time to deny Wilfred Zaha and Jermaine Easter, but as the game wore on the threat of the visitors subsided and with Becchio on for the ineffective Andy Keogh he marked his return from injury with a powerful header into the top corner from McCormack’s free-kick.
Six minutes from the end the Whites clinched victory when Snodgrass’s cross was knocked down nicely by the other sub, Forssell, and McCormack turned smartly to fire past Speroni.
Leeds United 3
(McCormack 8, 84, Becchio 71)
Crystal Palace 2
(McCarthy 12, Scannell 21)
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Leeds: Lonergan, Lees, Kisnorbo, O’Dea, Taylor, Snodgrass, Brown (Sam 75), Howson, Nunez (Forssell 58), McCormack, Keogh (Becchio 58).
Palace: Speroni, Ramage, McCarthy, Tunchev, Moxey, Zaha, Wright, Jedinak, Parr (Ambrose 85), Easter (Murray 78), Scannell (Andrew 87).
Referee: Scott Mathieson.