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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Leeds United v Cheltenham Town Feb 21st 2009

Winter is well and truly behind us as we set off for today's crucial game.  The bright sunshine was slightly misleading as a swirling keen wind greeted us as we disembarked at the Elland Road car park..............maybe leaving my coat at home wasn't the best call of the day?  However the Happy Chocker, Brother Chris and myself were in good spirits. Brother Chris had bravely left the car amongst the dubious owners of the Valentine Fair that had taken over the main car parks at ER.........."Send in the Clowns" is a track associated with the fairground......I just hoped I'm not playing it on here later I mused. In the members bar Jesus and Johnson had got the dreaded job of being interviewed by Peter they had fallen pray to Larry's axe.  To Jesus's credit he was very candid about Tuesdays performance and made a point of thanking/apologising to the fans which went down well.  So suitably buoyed by a meat & potato pie and a couple of pints of Boddies we made my way to our seats in the Kop.  It's at this stage that I began to think that Larry must read my blog as Snoddy and Becchio were leading the line (you read it here first) with Dougie back in midfield and Hughes returning at RB.  Howson started in the middle with Dougie leaving Fabian in a wider role.
The changes certainly worked as Leeds bossed the opening salvos with Robbo and Howson particularly conspicuous.  
Snoddy was making lots of intelligent runs up front and chances were coming thick and fast against a distinctly average Robins team.  It wasn't long before Hughes quick return was ended as he limped off to be replaced by Kilkenny with Dougie moving to RB.  Now I am a believer in of my favourite films is Sliding Doors..........and the enforced move of Dougie away from centre midfield had a positive affect on the game.  
Up to then the fans were a little restless as we hadn't converted any chances and there were muted chants of "Bates out" drifting down from the Kop.  But Kilkenny was a revelation from the first minute he came if all the frustration of missing out on selection in recent weeks had manifested itself into positive energy on the field.  He undoubtedly lifted Leeds as we finished the half on a high and on another day could have gone in one or two goals to the good................but the fact we weren't was gnawing away at most fans confidence as we reflected on the first half.
In any normal circumstances we would have not had any worries about converting our superiority especially against a team with such a low league position...............but this week has not been kind to the Leeds faithful and a lot of fans were near breaking point so the atmosphere was tense as Leeds kicked off the 2nd half.
Leeds were out of traps with a passion and with Kilkenny pulling the strings in midfield, ably assisted by a rejuvenated Jonny Howson, it was only a matter of time before we took the lead.  Sure enough after relentless pressure Howson broke the deadlock after more good work by Robbo on the right as he delivered the perfect cross for Jonny to bury in the back of the net with an exquisite header.  The celebrations, both on and off the field,  belied the fact that the opposition were the lowly Cheltenham Town not long since of the Conference..........but that didn't matter Leeds had slain the demons of the last 7 days and were well and truly back in the promotion race.  We were on the front foot now and relentless pressure indicated a landslide victory but this is Leeds.............................and before you could say "play offs here we come" Cheltenham had scored to deflate the newly found optimism.  That awful sinking feeling that we know so well had just time to take effect before we saw the linesman flagging for some unknown offence and keep the score at 1:0.
If anything the disallowed goal seemed to spur Leeds on even more and with Kilkenny, Snoddy & Howson filling their boots against a poor Cheltenham team the inevitable 2nd goal was not long in coming.  Delph slotted a sliderule ball through for an eager Howson to claim his 2nd of the game......cue a huge collective sigh of relief around ER.
Leeds then proceeded to close the game out in a professional manner with the only dent in the afternoon the fact that we didn't add to Howson's 2 goal tally.  The final whistle was met with generous applause and loud cheers in stark contrast to Tuesday's outpouring of disgust.  So in the end we dispatched the relegation threatened Cheltenham...........better still results elsewhere mean we are still in the play off picture and with Scunny next (2 players sent off today) suddenly everything looks a whole lot better.
The team played a lot better today and there was the fight and determination that was sadly lacking on Tuesday back in evidence.  Larry will find it difficult to not play Snoddy, Kilkenny and Howson in the positions they played today in the next match and with Beckford back, Becchio will be suspended, things are suddenly looking a lot brighter.
The short journey back to Selby was a lot more bearable this week as news came in of other teams slip could tell with the cheerful  way the Happy Chocker ordered his mixed Kebab and Chicken Korma with rice that things were on the up.  there is always a danger of getting carried away when we win, moi?, but this was just the result we needed and who knows this could be the start of the much needed unbeaten run?



BOnjour Marching on

Rain or shine ....Whatever the weather at Elland Road and "on the road"....thanks for the great article and report.


Anonymous said...

Love reading your blog each week, exiled white living in Taiwan. Keep the faith.

Adrian in Kaohsiung, TW

Marching on Together said...

Thanks for your comments. It's good to know that the blog brings a bit of joy to a Leeds fan so far from their spiritual home.

Bonjour Dave
Cheers.........hopefully this is the "start" of our 97th unbeaten run this season!

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