Saturday, 11 April 2009
Leeds United v Stockport County April 11th 2009
We were back to our original crew today with The Happy Chocker, The Quiet One and yours truly boarding the lunchtime train to Leeds along with a healthy contingent of other Selby Whites keen to see Leeds take another step towards promotion. Memories of our generous 2nd half performance at Orient were still fresh in our minds so any thoughts of an easy afternoon were sidelined while we speculated on the possible team. The key question was whether Becks and Sammy would return from injury. For the sake of my nerves I was praying Sammy would be playing and strengthening the defence but both HC and I were unsure Becks would be risked. The first part of the conundrum was answered as the new cult hero Sammy Sodoff with his gleaming white teeth was already on the stage of doom answering Peter Lorimer's pre match questions in the members bar. Mmmm so Rui would get another run and we were soon to learn that Mr Beckford was also having a restful afternoon leaving the way clear for the ex Stockport striker Dickinson to play against his erstwhile colleagues. Now Dicko hasn't exactly endeared himself to Leeds fans since his arrival as he has not set the game alight when he's made his brief appearances up to now. Today was his chance to show what he could do. In the members bar the neighbours Madge, Harold & Jason made their thoughts clear on Liam Dickinson, a complete waste of time or words to that effect! Now I'm a reasonable chap and I like to give players a chance to show what they can do before condemming them to the Brolin, Kandol school of Leeds players..........clearly as the afternoon wore on the HC and I were in a minority with that view. So the same team started the game as did Tuesday with Dicko leading the line with Becchio. Leeds started well and were soon knocking the ball about with the confidence gained through a 10 game unbeaten run. Stockport were game opponents but didn't appear to have anyone who would trouble the mighty whites in the early stages. Leeds were playing away from the kop so thankfully most of the action was at the South stand end. Kilkenny was again buzzing with authority in mid field and Rui and Bam Bam were looking solid at the back. Maybe we were going to have a nice comfortable afternoon after all. This view was further strengthened when the hard working Becchio headed the ball down for Howson to tap in the opening goal after just nine minutes. Leeds stepped up a gear and could have added to their advatantage as first Dickinson then Naylor went close to grabbing a second. Stockport were on the ropes but they dug in and even managed a couple of forays on Caspers goal. After Tuesday's awful error it was good to see the great Dane in solid form. As the half neared it's completion some of the ever demanding Leeds fans were getting frustrated at the lack of another goal with the target of most of the dissent being the unfortunate Liam Dickinson. Leeds were well in control as the team s left for the break. Stockport started the 2nd half determined to have a go at Leeds and we were rocked back on our heels for the first 10 minutes. Not another Crewe/Orient 2nd half I thought. It wasn't that Casper had had any real saves to make but they were coming more into the game and beginning to bombard the area with searching balls that had the defence scrambling. The large away following duly found their voice at the same time the increasingly nervous and frustrated whites fans went uncharacteristically quiet. We did create chances but all too often when we got to the 18 yard line the move would fizzle out after one too many passes. By now Dickinson's contribution was being met with derision from a number of the home fans, ironically cheering when he won a header etc. Now call me old fashioned but I can't stomach our fans turning on a player, alright he wasn't having a good game but nothing he'd done deserved the open abuse he was getting. When Becchio was withdrawn before Dicko for Robbo that only fanned the flames of vile that were spewing from the stands.
Robbo though did spark some fire into the Leeds game and he tormented the County defence twice skimming shots inches over the bar before a surging run through the tired defence ended with him smashing the bar with the keeper well beaten. At the other end Stockport continued to throw men forward to try and grab an equaliser requiring some sturdy last ditch defending to keep the much vaunted clean sheet. When Dicko's number was finally raised with 5 minutes to go loud cheers greeted him making way for the Itallian stallion Mike Grella. HC was valiantly defending Dicko's corner with other irate fans around us as he disappeared down the tunnel.
Robbo was having a field day though and when he was felled near the box he hit a spanking drive that brought a brilliant save from the County keeper. Grella's brief appearance was impressive as he set Snoddy free with a lovely interchange that nearly got a much needed 2nd goal. But the game ended with Robbo taking the sting out of what could have been a difficult 4 mins of added time by playing keep ball by himself in the NW corner.
So another 3 points in the bank earned against a hard working Stockport side in what was a typical squeaky bum game. Well we are at that time of the year. These last few games are going to test every ones resolve. It's a time for sticking together, fans and players, for the final push and not getting on anyones back.
The win leaves us a tantalising 7 points behind Posh in 2nd spot and 1 point behind Wall in 3rd. So near yet so far I fear. Roll on Monday and our appointment at The Cheese & Onion Stadium with the Foxes. Can't wait.