Sunday, 28 December 2008
Stockport County v Leeds United 28th Dec 2008
An early morning start for the trek across the Peninnes to Stockport greeted The Happy Chocker and other bleary eyed whites fans as we boarded the train at Selby station. Anticipation was higher than of late due to the last minute equaliser on Boxing Day but that didn't stop the usual dose of doom and gloom from some of the Selby Whites. The train was full with an equal number of footie fans and shoppers heading for the sales........................not sure where the credit crunch has gone judging by the number of eager Mother & Daughter's planning their assault on Primark as we trundled along.
Stockport would start the game in front of us in the League and Edgeley Park is not an easy place to play so I suppose I was hoping rather than convinced when predicting a 2:0 win for the whites. The Happy Chocker was less hopeful and I think the general view was a draw would be a good return from the 2nd game in 3 days over the festive period. After a change at Manchester and a short hop to Stockport we were met by the usual horde of the boys in blue for the short walk to the ground. As ever Leeds had sold out their allocation of tickets so an impressive 5,000 whites fans took over half of the compact ground, once again giving unwavering support to their heroes even if they do play in Div 3. As Stockport share their ground with Sale Sharks Rugby it wasn't surprising to see a pitch that resembled Bridlington beach rather than a playing surface fit for Football.
Larry had kept faith with Snoddy and Andy Hughes after their sterling performances on Boxing day ensuring that Robbo and Jonny Howson were left to warm the bench. The game started in bright wintry sunshine and it wasn't long before the early optimism of this particular Leeds fan was well and truly trashed as Stockport snatched the opening goal after a mazy run into the box was halted by Lubo only for the ball to fall to a blue shirt who gleefully smashed the ball into the Leeds net via a deflection. You could feel the Deja Vu amongst the massed Leeds fans. Gradually though Leeds battled back into the game despite the dodgy playing area and a referee who was dispensing yellow cards like confetti at a wedding.
Their more dogged approach to the game paid dividends half way through the half after Beckford had rattled the bar with a spectacular overhead kick Becchio finally pulled Leeds level with a header that found it's way into the net from a corner sending Leeds fans into raptures. Leeds finished the half in the ascendancy and disappeared for the HT orange with the cheers of their fans ringing in their ears.
Things were certainly looking better under Larry's direction, the defence were more solid and were definitely putting bodies on the line and the midfield was busier in closing down the crowded blues midfield.
The 2nd half was nip and tuck with both teams having chances to take the lead but with 20 minutes left Larry brought on Christie forBeckford and Howson for Snoddy? Howson's first 3 touches all gave possession back to Stockport but Christie looked sharp with his intelligent off the ball running. It was his tireless running and chasing down the goalie that lead to Leeds 2nd goal as the keeper hurried his clearance straight to Delph who controlled the ball on his knee before looking up and returning the ball fully 45 yards into the open goal.................the stands erupted with ecstatic fans celebrating a class goal from a class player. The goal gave Leeds the confidence to push on and close out the game which they did in style when Christie notched the 3rd with 5 minutes to go. Once again the Leeds fans celebrated and an enthusiastic chorus of "Jingle Bells" rung out from the Leeds stands as streams of Stockport fans headed for the exits.
So as the whistle went to signal Leeds' first win in seven games the players gratefully applauded the fans before leaving the pitch.
There was more of a buzz and eagerness about the team today as they played a more compressed style of play in contrast to the slower more methodical build up when Gary Mac was in charge. It might be that this is just what the doctor ordered in order to get Leeds back on the promotion trail.
The journey home was uneventful but we were able to travel with that warm glowing feeling that an away win gives.................it's a long time since we've experienced it!
Hereford away on Saturday and an excellent opportunity to extend our unbeaten run.........that sounds better.