2013/14: Pre-season Friendly – Leeds United v FC Nürnberg

My pre-season outings have so far seen me take in the ‘new start’ at Garforth Town as the team from Wheatley Park prepares for life after relegation from the Evo-Stik League North Division, with friendlies against Carlisle United and Farsley AFC.

Today is also a game which heralds a ‘new start’ as Leeds United parted company with Ken Bates on the eve of their fixture with FC Nürnberg, so ending an eight year connection with the ex-Chelsea Chairman. Since the new owners came to Leeds United they have made great play of reiterating the message that their stewardship is a fresh start, in an effort to entice back fans who stopped attending games at Elland Road during the Bates era. Therefore against this background and on a day of beautiful warm weather, my expectation was that the game would take place in an atmosphere of optimism with a bumper crowd in celebratory mood.

FC Nurnberg warm-up in front of their fans.

In reality it was a slightly different story. The attendance on the day was a disappointing 9,455, which was bolstered by a significant (and boisterous) number of fans from Nürnberg. There were some chants celebrating the severing of ties with Ken Bates, but these were few and far between on an afternoon when the Elland Road faithful were largely subdued and out sung by their Bundesliga counterparts.  On the pitch too the Germans had things pretty much their own way and Nürnberg were ahead within the opening three minutes of the game. From a deep free-kick from Japanese International Hiroshi Kiyotake, Paddy Kenny misjudged the flight of the ball and an unmarked Daniel Ginczek volleyed goal-ward. His effort was headed off the line by Luke Varney and there was momentarily some confusion before a goal was awarded. With an early breakthrough Nürnberg were full of confidence and comfortable in possession (on an immaculate looking Elland Road surface), with Kiyotake roaming freely in midfield and prompting the ever dangerous Ginczek. Leeds struggled to get any momentum going in the first half and could have conceded again from another set-piece, when poor marking at a corner allowed Emanuel Pogatetz a header. Such was the visitors’ dominance that it was nearly half an hour before Leeds had an effort on goal, but the strike from Varney was high and wide. Indeed it was the Germans who nearly doubled their advantage just before the break after a defensive mistake allowed Ginczek a chance, which was wasted as he blazed over the bar. Nürnberg went in at the break 1-0 to the good and deserved to be in front after comfortably dominating the opening forty five minutes.

Neither side made any substitutions at the break, but the second period, despite no changes in personnel had a different tempo. Within the opening fifteen minutes of the half, there was a flurry of chances as Feulner and Ginczek had efforts on goal for the visitors and McCormack and Varney responded for Leeds. There was also a bit of ‘hand-bags’ as McCormack and Dabanli tangled which sparked a skirmish in which both keepers became involved in. Once this all calmed down, both teams started to introduce a number of substitutes just after the hour mark which meant the game struggled for any flow thereinafter. However, with twenty minutes remaining, Leeds once again conceded at a set-piece. German Under-21 international Marvin Plattenhardt took the corner, which was flicked on by Berkay Dabanli to provide an easy header from just inside the penalty box for man of the match Ginczek. More substitutions took place which included a home debut for Matt Smith, but the Germans continued to look dangerous and created two very good chances late on for Niklas Stark and American International Timothy Chandler as the game went into the last ten minutes.

At the whistle, the Nürnberg players celebrated a 2-0 victory and went over to their travelling fans and acknowledged their support. For Leeds it was not the way they would have wanted to end their pre-season or begin a new chapter in terms of the club post-Bates. However, this was merely a friendly fixture and so to make any judgements as to how 2013/14 will unfold would be both churlish and unfair. Brighton visit West Yorkshire on the opening day of the Championship season and Brian McDermott will know that a win in front of a packed Elland Road will erase the memories of the subdued atmosphere of today and may be the start of a genuine ‘new beginning’.


Leeds United: Kenny, Peltier, Lees, Pearce, Warnock (Drury 63), Green (Tonge 63), Murphy, Poleon (Smith 75), McCormack, White, Varney (Hunt 63). Subs (not used): Cairns, Pugh, Brown, Norris, Thompson, Hall, Lenighan.

FC Nürnberg:  Schäfer, Chandler, Dabanli, Pogatetz, Pinola (Plattenhardt 64), Balitsch, Kiyotake (Drmic 69), Feulner (Stark 81), Gebhart (Frantz 75), Mak (Esswein 85), Ginczek. Subs (not used): Angha, Rakovsky, Mendler

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Posted July 27, 2013 by Editor in category "Football Features

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