Saturday, 1 August 2009
Burnley v Leeds Utd 1st July 2009
There was a nice sort of irony that we should be dashing across the Pennines to battle with Lancastrian foe on Yorkshire day. The Happy Chocker and the Quiet One joined me for a wet journey through the mill towns of West Yorkshire across to the Dark Satanic Lancastrian mill town that is Burnley. It didn't seem possible that last week I was cursing the lack of sun block whilst watching Leeds and this week it was the greyest of grey wet afternoons as we parked up in one of the many side streets along side Turf Moor and made our way into the ground. As ever Leeds fans were in abundance.
Burnley, fresh to the Premier league, were trying to bask in their new found status and a smiling steward, now there's a rarity, soon found time to inform HC and I that a certain Manure would be at Turf Moor for their first home game in an incredulous tone that suggested he still didn't believe it. Well after watching Burnley for the first half I knew where he was coming from!
The team news oozed with intrigue..............No Delph or Beckford..........the conspiracy theories were soon whizzing round the stand............They weren't with the team either......Mmmmm have we seen the last of them? While most of us were still pondering the match started after an impecabbly observed minutes silence for two Burnley players and Sir Bobby Robson with Grella and Enoch (christened Show woo woo by the announcer!) starting up front and Casper in goal. Snoddy and Robbo were warming the bench whilst Jesus and Brad Johnson got some precious game time.
Leeds started very much on the front foot knocking the ball about with aplomb against a jittery Claret side containing 3 ex Leeds players in Blake, Carlisle and Cauldwell.
Just like last week we looked as good if not better than our Premier League opponents especially in the intrcate inter play between the front two and midfield. Grella looked more at home than in recent brief appearences and was soon worrying the Burnley back line with his neat skills and confidence. The best early chance fell to Enoch who finished off an esquisite passing move by drilling the ball inches wide with the goalie well beaten. Pure Enoch!
The sparse Burnley crowd were nervously fidgeting in their seats not liking what they were watching...............not helped by chants from the away end of "Blackburn will murder you" the inevitable "Premiership yer aving a laf" and a premature but probably true "Going down going down going down".................Sometimes it's fun not being in the top league?
Grella was growing in confidence as he attacked from a slightly deeper position behind Enoch and on the half hour he scored his first Leeds goal finishing yet another Leeds move that sliced through the woeful home defence with a strike that was as cool as a Polar Bear's bum.
Elsewhere on the pitch Johnson had hit a post from a free kick as he revelled in a central role and Krisnorbo was enhancing his growing reputation with another assured performance at he back with Rui. Prutton was flitting in and out of the game and Howson was his industrious best. Robbie Blake was having a very quiet game whilst Burnley's only attacking option, give it to Eagles on the wing, was floundering against Parker and Crowe. HT and we were deservedly 1:0 up.
Strange that I was feeling slightly uncomfortable probably due to everything going to well. It's like waiting for something to go wrong but it doesn't if you follow my drift. Talk at HT amongst the crowd returned to the absent Beckford and Delph but if they were on their way then the guys on the pitch were showing we wouldn't have too much to worry about if they did.
The 2nd half spluttered into life and a few fiesty challenges on both sides added some spice to proceedings with Snoddy, on as a sub, doing his best to wind up anything in a claret shirt. I feel almost arrogant in saying a 2nd goal was no more than we deserved but it was. Numerous substitutions had been made on both sides and Robbo had come on to add some guile and trickery to proceedings and it was he who drilled in the killer goal past a despairing Burnley goalie. There was just time for Burnley to snatch a consolation but the result was never in doubt and Leeds trudged off the pitch well pleased with another fine performance.
I think Grella and Robbo will be most pleased with their efforts today and Robbo will feel rightly aggrieved if he's not done enough to grab a starting shirt against mighty Exeter. Sadly I can't say the same for Casper. He didn't have a lot to do but what he did wasn't laced with lots of confidence. Of the others Krisnorbo and Crowe look solid and should start next week with the congested midfield area the one for most debate once it's clear who will and will not be available.
The pre season has been immensely impressive especially the performances against Blackburn and Burnley, and I know that friendlies aren't the same as the real thing, but the quality of the Football Leeds have played is a notch up from last seasons offerings.
Whisper it quietly but I think this could be our year........Shussssssssssssh