Gryphons Grind to a Stalemate

LEEDS’ men’s football 1st team held out for a 0 – 0 draw against Liverpool John Moores on Wednesday, in a match that was achingly stagnant and gruellingly physical. It was a match that ground to a deathly stalemate, but was by no means void of impressive football.  

The Gryphons started strongly, and their kick-off showcased a determinative enthusiasm and desire, as an immediate ball over the top of the visitors’ defence allowed striker Kit Ellam to pressurise the Liverpudlian goalkeeper. The shot went wide, but was enough to give John Moores plenty to think about. Following this, central midfielder Dylan Kay managed on two occasions to exploit space down the right wing, thus enabling winger Liron Mannie to display his electric pace and almost come away with the goods. Leeds enjoyed an impressive period of dominance after this, winning seemingly every contest and pinning John Moores in their own half. The defensive structure held strong, making the midfield too congested and dangerous an area for Liverpool to break through, and the attack was bolstered by some penetrative through-balls from Kay and Lu Noovi.

Image: Jack Roberts

Unfortunately, Liverpool appeared to be settling into the match after 15 minutes, and Leeds’ supremacy was beginning to be challenged. The visitors won their first corner of the day and, despite the fact that the corner was poorly-struck and going out, sought to boost their performance. If Leeds were to put a stop to a somewhat lacklustre period, they would have to react unequivocally and threaten the Liverpool goalkeeper, as the opposing players had been doing to Leeds’ goalkeeper Alex Gunn. However, the Gryphons’ next attack (a beautifully curled-in free kick from Kay) found no attacking heads. After this any attempts in the first half to attack John Moores’ goal were met with a tight defensive structure that made shots on target near impossible. In contrast, before the half was over Liverpool enjoyed two more threatening shots on goal. One of these was the product of a rare lapse in communication between centre back Josh O’Hanlon and right back Eutu Hylinen, which allowed the Liverpool striker to get right behind the defence, and into the box.

After a shaky end to the first half, Leeds undoubtedly sought to make amends, and reassert the dominance they had displayed in the first half. Liverpool had other ideas however, as they kicked-off with some intelligent passing interplay up the middle of the field, which allowed for a powerful strike right into Gunn’s gut. Leeds responded with an impressive counter-attack, with striker Jack Seccombe receiving the ball in space, after an excellent clearance from Omar Bukleb. Seccombe was able to dance through some Liverpool defenders, before effectively holding the ball up until support could arrive. Sadly, the ball once again went awry after it was crossed in-field, with Jack Bullock losing the ball in contact. If this report seems to be settling into some sort of routine, that is because the game did just that. Though it was played with frenetic pace and end-to-end energy, one couldn’t help feel as if a team would work their way into the other’s half, only to squander their chance at goal. There was simply not enough invention or risk-taking close to the net, and as a result the game ended with a disappointing 0 – 0 score line.

After the match, the referee remarked that he thought the match was a physical, but well-contested affair, with the visiting side garnering more legitimate attempts at goal in his opinion.

James Candler 

Featured image: Jack Roberts 

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