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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Leeds Utd v Oldham Ath Feb 23rd 2010

Considering we were sitting comfortably on top of the league such a short time ago to be now in the middle of a dog fight for one of the two automatic places is the stuff of nightmares. But this is Leeds and we don't do anything the easy way. So as the hard core whites fans descended on a freezing Theatre of Hope for our clash with Oldham it's safe to say there were quite a few nerves a jangling. Confidence has been badly knocked by our appalling run of form, seeds of doubt have been sown in the minds of fans. Some fans have even questioned Lord Grayson's position ffs. The Happy Chocker had covered all his bases by putting £5 of his hard earned cash on Oldham to win. I had recovered from the depths of depression after Saturday's stuttering show and was rather rashly predicting a 4.0 triumph.
As we passed Mr Morse selling his programmes outside the main gate the first flurries of snow began to fall. A pre match pint in the kop bar assessing Big Steve's skiing injuries brightened the mood and by the time I got to the familiar seat in the kop I was strangely confident of seeing Leeds get back to winning ways. After all the Pharaohs curse can't possibly be true can it?
Lord Grayson had at last given Aidey White a start in place of the mis-firing McSheffrey and a refreshed Snoddy returned on the other flank. Oldham are a team of limited quality and they soon made their transparent game plan of kicking anything in a white shirt clear as the rather porky Mr Gregan resumed his favourite sport of Beckford baiting. The lenient referee was just what Dave Penney's team wanted as their initial "let's get stuck into them" approach took it's toll. We do lack an enforcer in the team and it's in games like this that we suffer.
Despite the attempted thuggery of the away team Leeds started with a lot more vigour than of late and played at a higher tempo. Too many times though the ball was lost as it moved forward with both Beckford and Becchio unable to hold any of the balls played their way. Despite this Leeds were attacking with a lot more purpose than of late and when another robust challenge from Hazell decked Beckford in the box we should have had a penalty. When a teams struggling decisions just don't seem to go your way?
Doyle hesitated in front of goal and shot tamely at the keeper and Snoddy fired a testing shot goalwards. We were looking good. But we needed to be because the snow was now falling steadily and in our exposed position in the kop my toes had lost all sense of feeling. As Beefy would say it was triple Baltic.
Leeds finished the half on top but still unable to get that vital first goal. Becchio crashed to the floor in the box after tangling with an Oldham defender but still no penalty. The half time whistle was met with some disgruntled moans from the kop. Not least from the football "expert" who was stood behind me who had classified Snoddy as a lazy bastard and Beckford as a waste of f****** time. Get em off! We do have some very knowledgeable fans........................he isn't one of them. The first half was a distinct improvement on recent games but it was still goalless. Still a worry but I couldn't remember Casper having a save to make. The main problem with the first half was our lack of ability to hold the ball up front. Everything else was going well. More worrying though was the fact I was now approaching hypothermia and the Quiet One had gone a strange shade of blue, so I had a walk to the gents to try and warm up.
We were out of the traps in a shot for the 2nd half and we were soon in front. "Waste of time" Beckford showed his class in turning his defender in the box and then hitting a teasing shot that their goalie kindly fumbled into the path of Becchio...............Gooooooooooooooooooal! Just what the doctor ordered.
Leeds were now on a roll and the crowd lifted by the goal, and news that Charlton and Norwich were losing, found their voice as Leeds went for the kill. "Lazy bastard" Snoddy was having his best game for a long time and enjoying bamboozling the Oldham defence. Once more he danced down the wing and got to the by line before popping up a cross that had "please head me Mr Becchio" written all over it........................which he did. 2.0! That feeling of pre Xmas confidence was slowly coming back to both the team and the crowd.
Mad Max replaced the excellent Aidey White shortly after the goal and immediately opened his box of tricks to torment the Lancastrians with. This was turning into a good night despite the now Quadruple Baltic weather. Everyone seemed to be shivering uncontrollably around me and poor old Quiet One had disappeared to the sanctuary of the concourse to try and get warm.
Leeds finished the game without too much trouble. Mad Max should have scored at least one goal, one shot ended up in the cheese wedge with the Oldham fans. We even manged to play a shortened version of Ole football near the end.
No boos at the final whistle this time. A good solid performance by Leeds against a very physical poor Oldham side. Just what we needed to get back on track. Nayls, Snoddy, Kissy and Doyle were the pick of the team but overall an encouraging team performance that we used to take for granted before Xmas.
17,500 of the faithful had braved the cold and snow to see a result that will send a strong message to all those who were beginning to say the wheel has fallen off Leeds' title challenge. With 14 games to go there will be a lot more twists and turns to test the nerves of all whites fans yet but we are still in a position where our fate is in our own hands. And at this stage of the season that's priceless.
With Udders winning 2.0 away Saturday should be a cracker. They are on a good run of form and will fancy turning Leeds over again as they did last year. But with Kissy back to his best and the belief back in the team we will travel with confidence................not something I would have said on Saturday. Whatever the weather on Saturday lunchtime the temperature will be white hot inside The Galpharm. An absolute belter of a match awaits.
Can't wait.

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