Jesse Marsch outlines positives as Leeds United take a point from trip to Crystal Palace

They were far off their attacking best, but Jesse Marsch looked to the positives after Leeds United inched a point further clear of the relegation zone with a goalless draw at Crystal Palace.

By Tony Harber
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 8:49 am

Whether it was a point gained or two lost only time will tell, but the Whites were certainly the happier to walk off at the end with a draw after they found it tough going at times.

"We as a group were a little bit disappointed with our performance, but I think we've got to look at the positives - it's two clean sheet in a row, it's a big point that gets us closer to our ultimate goal and having a team that's more stable and doesn't give away big chances," said Leeds boss Marsch.

"It was a night when we bend but don't break.

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Jesse Marsch was pleased with Leeds United's second clean sheet in a row when they took on Crystal Palace. Picture: Getty Images

"We still have a lot of work to do in order to get better and better, but in the end we know the point is valuable.

"After 16 days off it was never going to be easy to have game fitness and game sharpness, but certainly the mentality to fight for everything is there.

"It's a big challenge, but the guys give everything and we're trying everything we can every day to get the most out of what we're doing."

The result saw Leeds go five points clear of second from bottom Everton, but with the next three games all against sides in the top four of the Premiership Marsch is well aware that there are some big challenges still ahead.

Illan Meslier made several saves to help earn Leeds United a potentially valuable point at Crystal Palace.

He added: "We know the challenge and don't want to hold back.

"I take it one a time and playing Man City is the biggest football Goliath in the world. I've played them already, I know a little bit about the way Pep likes to play and we'll try to create a game plan that can be aggressive, but also help us find a way to get a result in the match.

"I know what this game will require and how good the opponent is, but whatever, let's go for it and go with everything we have. And in the process we can get a point or three out of it or we can learn from it."

Marsch certainly learned that his players are still up for the fight to avoid the drop with the way they dug in at Selhurst Park.

The quality was lacking at times, but the Whites have now gone five games unbeaten.

They did not lack for intent in the first half as the game seemed to be played at 90 miles an hour with both sides looking to surge forward at every opportunity.

Palace had the first chance when Jean-Philippe Mateta got in behind the defence and got to a ball forward ahead of keeper Illan Meslier only to see his weak shot cleared by Diego Llorente.

Wilfried Zaha's looping header was easily saved by Meslier before Mateta should have done better with a chance in front of goal after getting on the end of Jordan Ayew's dangerous low ball into the box.

United finally began to look more dangerous themselves with Jack Harrison and Stuart Dallas having shots well blocked and Liam Cooper's header from a Harrison corner saved by home keeper Vicente Guaita.

A great block by Llorente denied the hosts before Rodrigo's header under pressure from another Harrison corner sent the ball wide.

Palace were given numerous chances to get the ball into the box from free-kicks with their players eager to fall onto the grass from the slightest touch and Leeds not wanting to give an inch. From one such Zaha free-kick Mateta got in a header, but Meslier saved comfortably.

The intensity did not let up after the break when the Whites had the first sight of goal only to see Raphinha's shot deflected wide. The Brazilian then headed over from the resulting corner.

Dallas sent a strike from 25 yards wide while Zaha offered Palace's only effort for the first 25 minutes of the half high and wide.

Harrison's shot from just outside the box on the hour mark looked to be heading goalwards only to hit teammate Sam Greenwood, who had just come on to replace Dan James up front.

The final quarter of the match saw Palace get on top, however, and Leeds needed to defend well to hold out for their draw.

It was to their credit that the hosts did not really have a clear chance, although they did manage a number of efforts on goal.

Connor Gallagher had one effort blocked, sent a volley over and shot straight at Meslier, while Zaha forced Meslier into his best two saves of the night in quick succession with angled shots.

Marsch threw on Joe Gelhardt for the last 16 minutes and the youngster did test Guaita with a shot from the edge of the area.

But it was more of a rearguard action in the closing stages from the Whites and they held on with the last half-chance falling to Zaha who saw his shot deflected wide.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Premier League

Palace: Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Ward; Gallagher, McArthur, Eze (Schlupp 79); Ayew (Olise 67), Zaha; Mateta (Benteke 84).

Leeds: Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips, Klich (Koch 45); Raphinha, Rodrigo (Gelhardt 74), Harrison; James (Greenwood 59).

Referee: Darren England.