Monday, 13 April 2009
Leicester City v Leeds United
An early start was needed for the trip down the M1 to Leicester's Cheese & Onion Stadium. The Quiet One was resplendent in his full away strip accompanied by the Happy Chocker. Jason and Denby made up a full car. From the fumes that surrounded Jason as he got in the car he'd obviously had a heavy session quenching his Easter Sunday thirst. Nobody was really sure what to predict for the game as we weren't that sure who would be actually playing with injury doubts hanging over Beckford, Becchio and Sodje. So rather than speculating on Larry's line up we passed the time struggling over football trivia questions. Which players past and present have a country as a surname which after we'd exhausted all the possibilities turned into names of towns with players surnames...........Justin Edinboro, Dwight Yorke, Clark Carlisle etc etc you get the picture. Once we got to 25 we lost the will to live but at least it got us to the outskirts of Leicester in double quick time. After parking at the Rugby club we strolled down to the concrete bowl that is the Walkers Stadium. As we waited outside in the spring sunshine we spotted the LUTV crew doing their piece to camera amongst the ever increasing numbers of Leeds fans. Soon our group were thrust into the limelight and questioned over our thoughts on this seasons player of the year. The lady with the blue & yellow wig who sits behind us at ER was interviewed first giving her vote to Snoddy as did the majority of fans asked. Strange how Beckford's prolific scoring still doesn't fire him to the top of everyone's list?
The cameraman was a good looky likey for Shaggy off Scooby Doo so I thought he'd want a shot of us all running down an endless corridor chasing some villain but I'm not sure he got the joke!
Inside the ground the 3000 plus whites fans started as the meant to go on with a noisy rendition of "We are Leeds" as the players warmed up. Thankfully Becchio and Sammy were back in harness but still no Jermaine..........................Now what's that stat.............we rarely win when JB's not playing. Leicester, aka the Foxes, ran out to the sound of a hunting horn which sounds like someones stood on the tail of a cat.............not the most inspiring tune to enter the field to?
Leicester started on the front foot and had the better of the opening 15 minutes pushing Leeds back time and time again but the defence held resolutely firm with some robust blocking and forceful heading led by Sammy and his gleaming white teeth of course. Gradually Leeds got themselves into the game and after the Foxes had tested Casper it was Lucciano's turn to go near as he turned and shot into the side netting, drawing an expectant Oooooh from the passionate away support.
Inspired by the battling performance on the pitch the whites fans found some momentum in the stands and embarked on a 25 minute non stop chorus of "We all love Leeds" right up to half time putting to shame the quiet blues fans. In the crowd behind me were the two Leeds superheroes who attend every away game in their Leeds coloured Superhero uniforms.
Not sure why but they certainly add a bit of colour to the proceedings.
I was confident at HT. We had played well and defended like a team possessed and when we'd got the ball our midfield stars were knocking the ball about in some effective patterns.
The two full backs were coping well with Leicester's preferred method of attack, get the ball wide, and Sammy and Bam Bam were awesome in the centre of defence. Up front Dicko was trying hard but not making too much impression and he certainly wasn't convincing the "he's not good enough" brigade amongst the massed ranks of Leeds fans. Hughesy treated us to a very short techno dance in response to pleas from the crowd and then the 2nd half was underway.
Once again it was Leicester who seized the early initiative but this was met with the same brick wall defence that thwarted them in the first period. Delph was having one of his best games in recent weeks and the ever impressive Jonny Howson was dancing about in midfield making positive forward runs. All seemed well with the world and as the game progressed Leicester became a bit more edgy.
Robbo replaced Becchio up front and immediately made an impact with his jinking runs and glue like ball control. He exchanged an exquisite one two with Delph 40 yards out that freed the long striding mid fielder who brought an excellent save from the Foxes keeper.
Maybe just maybe we could pinch a winner and spoil their promotion party. The Pantomime villain Paul Dickov entered the fray to be greeted by a chorus of "She said no Dickov, she said no" from the away fans...........even he smiled.
As the game entered the last 10 minutes Dicko gave way to Grella and the tension inside the stadium grew as Leicester pushed on for the winner. I felt a goal was on the cards but at which end? Did any team deserve to lose at this late stage?d
As the stadium clock ticked past 90 minutes Leeds conceded an unnecessary corner. No this can't be happening! We've battled for 90 minutes now just keep them out for one last time....................bollocks, bollocks, bollocks. Steve Howard arrived to thump a header into the back of the net and win the game for the champions elect. Where's the justice? There was still time for Leeds to launch one last attack but alas nothing came of it. The Foxes fans were jubilant and suddenly proved they could sing but still not loud enough to drown out a final defiant chorus of Marching on Together from the fabulous Leeds fans. It's at times like these when you realise that Football is the cruelest of games and as the Happy Chocker started to worry about losing to Tranmere and not making the play offs my mood darkened..............and it wasn't lifted by a Foxes fan trying to tell me that they'd been outstanding and fully deserved their win on the way back to car park...........deluded rose tinted spectacles Tosser!
The journey home was quiet with the back seat occupants snoozing off the excesses of the night before. I was just gutted. So near yet so far and again we're now nervously looking over our shoulders at other results. The twists and turns continue in this enthralling season and with 3 games left now there's still a long way to go. The tension at ER on Saturday will be unbearable. Can't wait.