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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Burnley v Leeds Utd. League Cup 3rd Round 19th Sept 2017.

It was almost inevitable that once Chris Wood had joined his former Leeds team mate Charlie Taylor at Burnley that the two sides would be drawn together in the next round of the League Cup. I can't imagine either of them were jumping for joy when the draw was made in stark contrast to the majority of Leeds fans. This was a chance for a Cup upset together with some vicious taunting of the former Elland Road favourites. Mint. I've no particular beef with Wood as his transfer was the way of modern football but the way Taylor left the club by refusing to play the last game was in my eyes a disgrace. Would we get karma on this sunny evening in East Lancashire? We were about to find out.

As expected TC made plenty of changes to the side that was battered at Millwall. Lonergan started in goal with a back four of Borthwick-Jackson, Shaughnessy, Ayling and Berardi. Klich and Vieira were in midfield with Roofe, Cibicki & Dallas in front with Grot up top. A decent crowd had populated Turf Moor as the game got under way with the noisy home fans trying to drown out the raucous Leeds travelling army. The opening exchanges were scrappy and littered with mistakes. Burnley had the better of what chances there were in the first twenty minutes culminating with Vokes skying a shot with goal gaping wide in front of him.

Leeds did test the Burnley back line but too often their moves lacked the incisive passing seen in recent weeks and not helped by Grot struggling to impose himself on the Burnley defence. The half finished with the scores 0.0 with not too many punters inside the stadium that impressed with either of the sides. The Urinal Philosophers were worried and brutal. "Grot's too slow and loses too many balls" one fan moaned whilst another was struggling with Borthwick-Jackson's first 45 minutes "The lad's in a permanent day dream. He's so laid back he's horizontal" Mmmm difficult to dispute either point of view. On a positive note Ayling was looking good at centre half, Berardi was his usual Tasmanian Devil self especially when he was offered a tasty 50-50 ball with Taylor. There was only ever going to be one winner of that challenge as Taylor did a double somersault and a half twist as a result of the impact from the Leeds full back.

The longer the game went on the more a goal looked likely. On the hour mark TC made a crucial substitution. Day dream believer, Borthwick-Jackson, was replaced by Sacko. Dallas went to left back leaving Sacko to raid down the flanks. He must have been red hot in training as his last appearances were bordering on embarrassing. We soon saw the reasoning behind the decision as Sacko's pace was soon scaring Burnley and Charlie Taylor in particular to death. Delicious. The tempo of the game lifted as both teams strove for the goal that would avoid the dreaded extra time. Who would sneak the oh so important first goal? Enter Chris Wood off the bench. Oh no I've seen the trailer. 89th minute winner for Wood I feared. Hernandez entered the fray with 11 minutes to go. The fresh legs Leeds had did the trick 2 minutes later.

Hernandez picked the ball up in his own half and hit a superb pass dissecting the space beyond Taylor.......Sacko turned on the afterburners and scorched past his former team mate. He was now bearing down on the goalie.......but he can't finish or cross I thought...........just as he slotted the ball through the legs of the goalie and into the net. Get innnnnn you beauty as 2,500 Leeds fans exploded in sheer joy. 1.0 Leeds with 10 minutes to go. Could we hang on? Lasogga replaced the disappointing Grot for the final 5 minutes. The game then entered a fascinating climax that only cup football can give you. First with just a minute left on the clock Wood converted a penalty to level the scores. Turf Moor erupts this time as Leeds hang their heads. 6 minutes of added time and the scores tied at 1.1. Leeds dragged their tired bodies forward one last time......Penalty Leeds! Up steps Hernandez to coolly restore the lead for the visitors. Carnage behind the goal as Leeds were now surely in the next round! Errrr not quite. A free kick on the edge of the Leeds box. Brady lines up the shot and puts it in the top corner of Lonergan's net. 2.2 Bollox! This is going to be a late night.

Four goals in the last ten minutes had sent the crowd into fever pitch. Now we had another thirty minutes to try and get the winner or the dreaded penalties would loom into view. Despite each team going for the win it finished 2.2 and so to penalties. The tension was as taut as a freshly stretched drum as both teams knocked in the penalties......then Tarkowski's shot was saved by Lonergan. Magic. Leeds had the chance to win the tie by converting their next two penalties. Alioski planted the perfect penalty high into the corner of the net leaving Dallas with the chance to win the game for TC's men. Cool as a frozen cucumber he slotted the ball home triggering amazing scenes in the away end. Fantastic! After the scrappy first half what a performance by Leeds and what a game!

Spurs away at Wembley was the consensus of who we wanted in the next round as we streamed out of Turf Moor. Klich was the man of the match in another impressive team performance. It was pleasing to see Sacko have Taylor on toast and also Vieira stomping about in midfield. They were all heroes though as the team progressed a small step nearer to Wembley ...........unless we get a quicker route by drawing Spurs?

Ipswich up on Saturday. Can we get another three points and put the Millwall battering behind us? Will Jansson and Cooper be fit? Has sack done enough to get a place in the squad? Time will tell.

Can't wait.

MOT

PS. Unfortunately I will be missing for the next two games. Reports will be back up for the Sheff Wed game.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Millwall v Leeds Utd. 16th September 2017.

Away days to South Bermondsey in South East London in recent years have usually ended up in defeat as the Lions of Millwall relish the chance to put one over their Yorkshire rivals in the hostile bear pit that is the New Den. Today was going to be different though I decided as I boarded the train at York heading to the capital. After all we are unbeaten in 9 games this season and haven't conceded a goal in the last 6 league game whilst up front we're knocking goals in for fun. What could possibly go wrong? Well actually quite a lot I mused as the train hurtled south. How would the silky and intimidating skills of Saiz, Alioski and Hernandez thrive amongst the "committed" challenges from the home players? Would our new foreign legion cope with the unique atmosphere in the New Den? Would Lasogga's girlfriend's waters break before kick off? We were about to find out.

Actually getting to the match was a challenge in itself. London was on a critical level of alert after yet another ISIS terrorist attack on Friday. Had that deterred any fans travelling to London? Judging by the hordes of Leeds fans drinking in the pubs around London Bridge the answer was definitely no. There was more concern about the ridiculous price of beer than the possibility of some tinpot cowardly jihadist disrupting the day I thought as I munched defiantly on a large bacon sandwich. If they did try anything against the combined might of the Leeds and Millwall fans I suspect they would be visiting their 72 virgins sooner than they thought!

The Den is probably the most hostile ground in England for both visiting players and fans and today was no different as I joined the sold out away end. Shaughnessy replaced the injured Cooper in an otherwise unchanged team. The atmosphere was crackling as the game got under way. Millwall flew at Leeds like demented Tasmin Devils to secure all the opening bragging rights. Morison, McLaughlin and Onyedinma all caused the Leeds defence problems as Leeds struggled to get any sort of foothold in the game. Morison had the ball in the net on 8 minutes but that was harshly ruled out for offside. The linesman's reward for that decision was a shower of coins and the odd bottle flying his way for the next 10 minutes. Classy from the home fans. Millwall were plundering both flanks with swift attacking play and also more significantly snuffing out the undoubted threat from our classy midfield. This had all the signs of recent games at Millwall, Leeds second to the ball against a home side playing out of their skins. Not what I was expecting.

Urged on by the baying home crowd Millwall dominated the first half. Morison nearly grabbed the opening goal just before half time with a header that Wiedwald managed to palm away. HT 0.0 but Leeds had been battered in the first 45 minutes. The Urinal Philosophers were in a sombre mood. "It's every time we come to Millwall we play crap" mused one fan whilst another had changed back into super negative mode "We're f****** shite" he commented about a team that had yet to let a goal in 6 and a half games and still sat proudly on top of the league. One thing was for sure though and that was TC had to change something or we would get totally submerged in the 2nd half.

Dallas and Roofe came on for Alioski and Hernandez who couldn't quite get to grips with such a hostile game. Leeds were now playing towards their fans but Millwall still were having the Lion's share of the game as they built more and more pressure on the Leeds back line. Shaughnessy and Jansson were manning the ramparts well as they repelled almost a constant onslaught from Neil Harris' men. Leeds still weren't winning any of the 2nd balls and looked nervy and hesitant in attack in stark contrast to recent weeks. On the hour Wallace hit the post for the hosts before Saville rugby tackled Dallas to prevent him getting away down the wing.

Leeds were now under almost unbearable pressure but would they concede? TC made a bold substitution on 70 minutes as he brought Grot on for Saiz and changed to a 4-4-2 formation. A minute later it seemed to have backfired as yet another Millwall attack saw the ball roll to O'Brien who side footed home from what looked like an offside position. The Den exploded as the home fans celebrated a deserved opening goal. Things then went from bad to worse as Jansson left the field injured and with all the subs used Leeds were now down to ten men with ten minutes left. Leeds kept going and a couple of dangerous crosses that nobody got on the end of was as close they got but the game ended 1. 0 to Millwall who certainly deserved their three points.

Leeds struggled with the physicality of the home side and won very few 2nd balls. They were outfought and out thought I'm afraid. Hopefully it will be a lesson learnt for TC that will make us stronger going forward. Shaughnessy and Jansson battled all afternoon but too many players were off key today and too many struggled to cope with the Bear Pit cauldron that is The New Den. All in all a disappointing result but one that sees Leeds still at the top of the league and with just the 3 goals conceded in 8 League games the panic buttons don't need pushing just yet although there were plenty of fans doing just that as we made our way back to Kings Cross Station. The Kettling by the Met Police horses was an interesting tactic just to walk us up the fenced in road to the train from the ground. Sort of summed the day up.

I made it home without any further incident although seeing the punters from Doncaster races at Doncaster station put a smile on my face. The immaculately coiffured Ladies and suited and booted Gents I saw on the way to the match now looked like they'd staggered through a hedge backwards and lost all co-ordination of their legs in the intervening hours. I suppose this was a typical Millwall away day in the end. Hopefully we can turn it round against Burnley in the cup on Tuesday?

Can't wait.

MOT

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