Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Swindon v Leeds Utd 26th Jan 2010
The Happy Chocker arrived fresh from an early morning shift down the big black hole for the dash cross country to Wiltshire for this cross country dash to Swindon for the latest in Leeds' promotion campaign. A 420 mile round trip lay ahead that would test our sanity and loyalty to the cause to the extreme. We arrived in good time and in sub zero temperatures to a wonderful customer facing welcome from the Swindon refreshment bar staff. "No you can't have any beer and I'm removing all the caps from the bottles of coke" ???
So pre match entertainment was coffee and soup to keep out the cold and a chat with big Karl Harrison. A hard game was anticipated by all at a County Ground that was bursting at the seams with yet another sell out crowd, including 3500 Leeds fans.
Naylor was still absent and Becchio still lingered on the bench. With fans still trying to find their seats Leeds were first on the attack as our FA Cup hero Beckford easily freed himself from his lumbering marker only to make a sorry hash of his attempt on goal. A sign of things to come! But it was Swindon who looked the more lively in the opening salvos as their attacking style caught Leeds cold. Chances for Austin and Paynter in the first 10 minutes really should have been converted as defensive duties seemed to have been given a night off by the Leeds team. Danny Wilson had set his team up to attack us out wide and Crowe and Hughes had a torrid opening 10 minutes. All across the pitch Leeds were second best and a combination of this and the returning arctic weather quietened the usually vociferous away support.
How could we go from such an assured and passionate team on Saturday to a team that looked out of their depth against a hard working League 1 side? It didn't get better as Austin smashed in the opener after we first gave the ball away and then failed to clear the attack. The home crowd erupted in unexpected joy. The more wizzened Leeds fans stood there with a "we've seen this all before" look.
Swindon poured forward like a pack of Lions smelling the blood of a wounded Zebra and how we got to the 20 minute mark only 1 goal down is a miracle. Casper was once again on good form though. Slowly Leeds started to wake from their slumbers and test the vulnerable home back four. Kilkenny worked a sweet one two on the edge of the box but screwed his shot wide, a dangerous Howson cross was turned over the bar by the big Swindon centre half. Beckford, when he wasn't being felled or elbowed, was finding space easily so hope briefly returned to the Leeds camp that the awful start to the game could be put behind us. But it was the reds who finished the half the better as the excellent Casper was called upon to turn away a free kick just on half time. Leeds trooped off at HT looking disconsolate and disorganised.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There was a glimmer of hope though, Norwich were also losing and the master tactician Lord Grayson had 15 minutes to fire up his troops for a 2nd half assault.
So Lubo and Becchio joined the fray at the expense of Crowe and Kilkenny. The opening shots of the final 45 minutes looked promising as Becchio made his presence felt up front and we had a couple of half chances to get level but ex Leeds keeper Lucas stood firm. In midfield Jonny Douglas was strolling around dictating the game without appearing to break sweat whereas our foursome were finding it hard to string three passes together.
Leeds were put out of their misery on the hour mark as farcical defending not only gave the ball back to Swindon but no one was home at right back. The ball was shovelled wide by Swindon and then a routine cross and header from Paynter made it 2:0 and goodnight Vienna. On Saturday I had likened Leeds heroic efforts to Rourkes Drift and the Zulu film..........tonight it was like watching Carry on up the Khyber.
The rest of the match was horrible. Mad Max came on for a cameo and showed how dangerous he can be. Becchio had what seemed like a good goal chalked off and we had a stonewall penalty denied. Oh and they got a third after more slapstick defending gave them a penalty. The home fans could hardly believe what they were seeing and lustily sung of "going up the football league"
Even though we still have two games in hand of Norwich and we sit 3 points behind them having lost only 3 games all season somehow the alarm bells are beginning to slowly ring. Leeds' performance was truly awful and with the exception of Casper the whole team should personally write to the 3500 fans who made the arduous trek and apologise.
The closing of the M42 and a 100 miles of overnight roadworks made the journey home pure joy. It was 2am when I finally turned the key in the door still mulling over a horrendous showing from the mighty whites. We haven't won in the league this year, the last two games we've lost 5:0 overall.....................wtf has gone wrong? I hope Lord Grayson has worked that one out before mighty Colchester arrive at ER on Saturday or we could be witnessing an internal implosion on the scale of the earthquake in Haiti.