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Report: Blues 1 Leeds United 0

Steve Cotterill’s charged-up side produced a wholehearted and committed display against promotion-chasing Leeds.

BCFC

Jacques Maghoma’s late goal earned Blues a much-needed and fully deserved win at St. Andrew’s.

Steve Cotterill’s charged-up side produced a wholehearted and committed display against promotion-chasing Leeds.

Despite dominating the contest for long stages, it looked like the hosts would have to settle for a point until Felix Wiedwald was unable to hold substitute Jota’s 83rd minute shot and Maghoma followed up to fire home a priceless goal.

Cotterill made four changes to his team with Maghoma, David Davis and Marc Roberts all recalled, along with Sam Gallagher who was back available after suspension.

Blues made a positive start to proceedings, within the opening seconds a fantastic defence-splitting pass from Craig Gardner fed Gallagher but the striker failed to make contact as he attempted a first-time effort.

Cotterill’s side continued to press and Gallagher tried to get in shot inside the area from Harlee Dean’s flick-on, but Leeds managed to scramble clear. Blues fans screamed for a handball but the appeals fall on deaf ears.

A long-range effort from Kalvin Phillips comfortably saved by David Stockdale was the only threat Leeds posed during the first 20 minutes of the game. Play immediately switched to the other end and Jeremie Boga let fly with an effort from the left side of the area that was always veering wide of the target.

But Blues were clearly up for the challenge, hassling and harrying their opponents at every opportunity. And another swift passing move saw Boga set up Jonathan Grounds with a chance to cross but Gallagher was just beaten to the ball as he looked to pounce.

Gardner, who was noticeably fired up for the contest, sensed a shooting opportunity as he drove forward with the ball from the halfway line, but his shot drifted a few yards wide of Wiedwald’s left-hand post.

The home domination of play was maintained up to half-time and probably the clearest opening of the half fell to Maikel Kieftenbeld five minutes before the interval. The Dutchman gathered up a loose ball, advanced towards the edge of the area but went for power over placement with his shot which took a slight deflection off Phillips as it flew over the bar.

Pablo Hernandez floated a free-kick just over the bar after a rare Leeds forward foray ended with Gardner fouling Ezgjan Alioski on the edge of the area, as an exciting first-half drew to a close.

Both teams attempted ambitious volleyed efforts during the opening stages of the second-half, Phillips and Davis seeing their outside-of-the-box efforts fly high and wide respectively.

Gallagher did well to win his side a free-kick almost by the left corner flag after he’d skipped away from Liam Cooper before being dragged back, the Leeds man earning the first yellow card of the game. The striker would have had a chance to converge on the area but instead the free-kick taken by Gardner was frustratingly over-hit and came to nothing.

On 62 minutes, Maghoma raced down the right and produced an inviting cross that Gallagher couldn’t manage to get to first. It was another encouraging attack from Blues who were continuing to bang away on the Leeds defensive door without finding that elusive first goal of the game.

The clearest chance of the second-half for Leeds fell to midfielder Pablo Hernandez on 76 minutes when the ball came to him on the left side of the area from a quick visitors breakaway. But Stockdale came to Blues’ rescue as he got his fingertips to the shot and sent the ball looping up and onto the top of the crossbar.

Two minutes later and a great opportunity came Blues’ way when Davis broke free on the right side of the area and his fizzing shot looked bound for the far corner but Wiedwald’s touch took the ball agonisingly wide of the post.

It was another timely boost for Blues and proved the catalyst for a final determined onslaught on the Leeds goal, a Gardner free-kick deflected wide as the hosts didn’t give up.

Jota was introduced off the bench on 76 minutes as Cotterill played his first card and it proved a match-winning decision. Six minutes later the tricky winger stepped inside from the right flank and fired in a shot that Wiedwald could only parry away.

As the massed ranks of Blues fans in the Tilton Road end held their breath, Maghoma stuck out a leg and sent the ball crashing into the roof of the net.

Blues saw out a slightly nervy four stoppage-time minutes to seal a first win in eight outings and a great way to finish what has otherwise been a disappointing and frustrating 2017 for the Bluenose faithful.

Blues: Stockdale; Colin, Roberts, Dean, Grounds; Kieftenbeld, Gardner; Maghoma (Nsue 87), Davis (Ndoye 86), Boga (Jota 76); Gallagher
Subs (not used): Morrison, Gleeson, Jutkiewicz, Trueman   
Goal: Maghoma
Booking: Grounds

Leeds: Wiedwald; Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Berardi; Shaughnessy, Phillips (Klich 68); Cibicki (Saiz 55), Hernandez, Alioski (Lasogga 83); Roofe.
Subs (not used): Pennington, Anita, Grot, Lonergan
Bookings: Cooper, Roofe

Attendance: 21,673 (2,484 away fans)

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