Saturday, 18 April 2009
Leeds United v Tranmere Rovers April 18th 2009
So now we get to the real business end of the season and a game with fellow play off contenders Tranmere Rovers. A good turn out of whites fans were gathering at Selby station in anticipation of celebrating a win and confirmation of our play off place. The Happy Chocker and the Quiet One were with me today. The deceptively bright sunny weather masked a chilly wind that would find out any short sleeved supporters who had chosen their match day attire without stepping outside their doors.The atmosphere on the way to the match was filled with nervous tension after all a win would secure at least a much prized play off spot and we were on a run of 9 straight wins at the Theatre of Frustration.....................but some how the new found confidence gained on our recent unbeaten run has been slightly dented by Steve Howard's last minute header on Easter Monday. The uncertainty over Beckfords fitness also put a cloud over proceedings. This conundrum was settled though as we entered the members bar and HC spotted Mr Dickinson sporting a newly shorn hair cut on the dreaded interview stage. So not only was Becks back but Liam wasn't even on the bench......... as Jason is a member of the "Dicko is useless" brigade he was well pleased. So with the good news still being discussed I optimistically put some well earned money on Robbo and Becks to get the first goal............the logic being that Becks is always chomping at the bit when he returns from an absence and Robbo's playing against his home town team. My appearance on Sky TV singing my heart out on Easter Monday had been seen by Brainboxes mum among others including our Postman? Not having seen the piece of TV history due to me forgetting to use the Sky plus I was now beginning to get slightly concerned as to exactly what I was doing that was so memorable that everyone seems to have noticed and then laughed!
By the time the match kicked off another good crowd had settled inside ER. Leeds started the better against a Tranmere team missing their star defender Goodison and soon we were looking good in the distance as we attacked the South Stand. Young Mr Howson, who improves with every game, almost got the opening goal when he hit an intelligent 30 yard shot that had the Rovers goalie scrambling to tip it over the bar. At the other end Casper made an even better save to keep out former Elland Roader Ian Moore. But we didn't have to wait long before we went one up from who else but Jermaine Beckford after excellent work from Snoddy released him with a one on one on the goalie. Kerching, thanks Skybet! If ever anyone wanted to see how valuable Mr Beckford is to Leeds this was it. In a flash he was onto the through ball leaving the defence trailing in his wake and nipped in front of the hapless goalie.........pure JB the lazy bastard!!!!!!!!
The Tranmere defence looked vulnerable to the ball over the top and on 25 minutes the hard working Dougie popped up in the inside right position???? to slot a pin point ball through for Killa to to turn the ball into the Tranmere net.
So why were we nervous? We were always going to be too strong for a Tranmere side who have struggled on their travels this year and at 2:0 I could feel the anticipation of the play off semis. As I tried to send a text I looked up to see Casper scrambling back unsuccessfully to keep out a Sammy back header. 2:1. Bollocks!
Tranmere's centre forward, Savage, was about 8ft 9" but Sammy and Bam Bam were handling him really well but buoyed on by their piece of luck Tranmere kicked on and started to cause some anxiety in the Leeds defence. When Casper came for a cross and completely missed it leaving an open goal for the Rovers player to head wide I started to think maybe just maybe it was going to be another of those days.
HT came with Leeds still 2:1 to the good but the confidence that had led to the 2:0 lead had evaporated as the half finished. The Leeds under 10 team were paraded to the crowd during the interval and a rather portly Leeds fan unsuccessfully tried the crossbar challenge. The Tranmere goalie came out to the usual attempted wind up by Lucas Kop Kat and fair play to the guy he took it in good heart...............until he realised that the naughty Mr Kop Kat had pinched his water bottle!
The 2nd half started in a rather stop start fashion not helped be some bizarre refereeing decisions. Robbo wasn't having one of his best games although he never stopped trying, probably trying too hard to impress his first professional club. On the hour Leeds got a free kick on the left and although Robbo was about to take it he was overruled by the bossy Snoddy who ran over to claim the honour. Good job he did as he whipped over a trade mark cross that bounced off Becchio's leg and into the net.......................Yeeeeeeeeeees 3:1 game over.
The game sort of petered out after the goal and although the win means a certain play off place the atmosphere never really lifted? I think we have got too used to edge of the seat matches and to be in control at 3:1 and play out the last 15 minutes without too much trouble sort of put a dampener on the welcome win. Grella, Hughesy and Brad Johnson all got a run. Johnson had some nice touches during his cameo. Muted celebrations and a none too convincing chorus of Wemberlee greeted the final whistle. But a win is a win and we've now had 10 on the bounce at ER. Now our attention turns to the crystal ball gazing to decide who we will get in the play offs. The way we are playing I don't think it matters.
As we caught the shuttle buses back to the station the mood of the Leeds fans was subdued despite the fact that we'd just taken another step towards escape from Div 3..............we're a hard bunch to please. News that the Posh had won finally put paid to our outside hope of automatic promotion. On reflection though there have been times this season when securing a play off place has seemed a distant hope, Hereford, Northampton, Millwall, MK Dons away for instance so to finally get there is a big relief. Next weeks trip to Hartlepool for the last away match of the normal season will generate a carnival atmosphere from the 900 fans lucky enough to have tickets.
Larry has got the team on a roll and it is quite likely that we will end the season with the winning streak at ER intact. I'm just hoping that this time is 3rd time lucky as far as the play offs are concerned and you know I really believe it will be. We ended the day seeing a man in a dress running for his train on Leeds station. It'd been a funny old day!