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Saturday, 7 March 2009

Bristol Rovers v Leeds United Mar 7th 2009

Brother Chris was driving again for our trip to the South west and our meeting with Bristol Rovers.  The Quiet One was living up to his name after his birthday sleepover that didn't appear to contain much sleep.  So we settled down for the three hour journey in an optimistic frame of mind.  After all Bristol are the sort of mid table team that we should be beating if we are going to push on for an automatic promotion place and we have now scrabbled together a 3 game unbeaten run since the horror show at Hereford.  So yes today was definitely a chance we could gather another precious 3 points for our promotion challenge.............................all this positive talk was tempered by the fact that we were in that golden pre match time zone where anything seems possible and as we know to our cost this optimism diminishes significantly once kick off time arrives. After some classic Reginald Molehusband manoeuvres to park the car we are soon walking briskly towards The Memorial Stadium in search of refreshment.  We found the Wakey Warriors in a Cafe bar on the High Street near the ground and had a hale and hearty discussion about the game.  The new configuration of midfield with Howson and Kilkenny in the middle and Delph playing out wider met with everyone's approval and certainly playing Dougie at right back found no dissenters in our pre match group of Leeds "experts"Hopes were therefore high as we left the comfort of the bar for the short walk to the ground.  As ever the whites had brought a large contingent of the faithful and they were soon raising the decibel level in the away stand.  Well it was more like a giant marquee than a first I thought we'd stumbled on Auntie Betty's wedding reception and I half expected tables adorned with Vol au Vents and Pork Pies to be set out awaiting us..... but at least  the tarpaulins stretched over the roof frame kept the persistent drizzle off most of the fans.

From the kick off Leeds were playing with a purpose and started to gain the upperhand urged on by the vociferous hordes behind the goal they were attacking in the first half.  Beckford got free only for his first touch to force him too wide for a realistic shot.  Snoddy was buzzing all over the pitch and Killa and Howson were getting the upperhand in midfield.  All was looking and feeling good...................too damned good as on one of Bristols rare attacks they were suddenly ahead after a sliced volley escaped Casper and found itself in the top right hand corner of the net.  The Gasheads celebrated as if they'd just won the Cup final.  In the Leeds end this particular fan was undergoing that sick feeling that drops to the pit of your stomach whenever the opposition scores.  It couldn't be another one of those afternoons could it? Leeds are made of stern stuff these days though and they were soon back in the ascendancy with Killa probing well in the middle and Snoddy, Becchio and Becks causing panic in the Pirates defence.  We got our just reward when Snoddy wriggled through on the right wing and pulled an inch perfect cross back from the bye line to the back post where the hard working Becchio rose the highest to head into the Bristol net.  Relief and joy cascaded down from the away marquee and once the initial celebrations died away the Memorial Stadium was treated to one of the loudest renditions of MOT heard this season (just for you Wittering!)  We continued to turn the screw and were unlucky not get a 2nd before the HT whistle went.

A small section of the away support was tucked away on the terracing down the side exposed to the rain and the dryer proportion of the Leeds support teased their counterparts with "You forget your're getting wet" in reference to our marquee stand.  Always surprises me how creative the songsters can be, especially when most of them have all had eleventy pints before the match.  Nelly kept me company in the 2nd half as he needed some respite from some of the more "excitable" members of his travelling party. The 2nd half kicked off with Leeds playing away from their supporters and they were soon into their stride knocking the ball to feet in impressive fashion.  But it was Bristol who nearly got their noses in front as a shot from the edge of the box crept agonisingly just over the bar with Casper rooted to his spot.  If anything this spurred Leeds on more and chances started to mount up on the Bristol goal.  Beckford fizzed a 25 yarder just over the Bristol bar.  You could feel a goal coming though and it was fitting that it was the Leeds man of the match who got it.  

Beckford was pulled down in desperation giving Snoddy the chance from a free kick outside the box.  He didn't disappoint as he hit a superb curling shot beyond the keeper and into the Bristol net. we could kick on and make the game safe.  In truth that is exactly what we did do without actually getting that precious 3rd goal as we continued to boss proceedings.  Bristol's substitutions did make a difference though as Joe Kuffour began to be noticed as he tried get Bristol back in the game with his pace and trickery.  Leeds had a wake up call as Casper flapped at a corner and Bristol lobbed the ball back into the back post where a header was placed goalward only for the diligent Ben Parker to clear off the line.  Even then I thinks it's safe to say that the majority of the fans in the ground couldn't see Bristol pulling one back..............just goes to show what football fans the game entered the 90th minute Kaffour chased a hopeful punt up field and turned Rui to bear down on Casper........surely he can't spoil a good away day can he?.....................of course he can and he did in planting the ball easily past Casper to snatch an unlikely equaliser.  That sick feeling returned to the pit of my stomach.  Why is football so cruel?  There was still time for a last hurrah from Leeds but we couldn't get a deserved winner and as the whistle blew it was the Bristol fans who were singing for the first time in the game.  All the good work of Snoddy, Killa, Becchio & Howson had only spawned one measly point, not enough to keep us in the play off spots, and the consensus view was that we had snatched a draw from the jaws of victory. Our mood wasn't helped by the Avon Constabulary's insistence in keeping us behind for a game of "let's stand in the same spot for 20 minutes" before we were allowed to troop back to the car.The journey back was thankfully quick but the further we got up the M1 the better the 1 point seemed............after all we had played well and were unlucky not to come away with all 3 points.Next game is Tuesday and Yeovil at home on my birthday.  Let's hope it's a good birthday and we'll be back in the mix again for the play offs.


Witteringwhite said...

Cheers for the mention WP, sounds like a great day out spoiled by a last minute defensive lapse. All the very best for your b'day on Tuesday, hope the lads turn it on for you and earn 3 points in style.

Marching on Together said...

Yes it was a good day out spoiled by the result, or more to the point the last minute goal...........seemed to have been there before!
Thanks for the birthday wishes.

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