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Thursday, 4 February 2010

Leeds Utd v Spurs FA Cup replay 3rd Feb 2010

The snow was blowing in across the M62 as my faithful VW Golf gunned it's way along the familiar route to fortress Elland Road. Was God sending another sign of support for the mighty whites? Who know's but what was for sure it was going to be a severely chilly night at White hot Elland road. The Happy Chocker was under his own steam as I was doing the fans panel summarising on Yorkshire Radio. So after a quick shifty around the packed press room observing the written journo's busily preparing their copy whilst the TV pundits were busily demolishing the spartan nibbles on show. Once settled in the gantry my thoughts turned to the game.
The match had all the ingredients needed for yet another FA Cup shock.................a passionate full house of fans baying for another famous scalp.............inhospitable freezing weather..................and the knowledge that Leeds had already defied logic in two previous games creating a headline writers dream. Surely they couldn't do it all over again? As the teams appeared to a tremendous reception from the packed crowd the press gallery resembled a trip down memory lane as icons from the past assembled to pass judgement on today's heroes, Norman bites yer legs, Lawro (Im sure he was asleep) and sat with me was the legend that is Peter Lorimer. Tempting as it was I didn't sing a chorus of "90 mile an hour"
Both teams were stricken by injuries and unavailability with Kissy and Killa sitting out the match for Leeds. The first half hour was crucial for Leeds. In the first game they had succumbed to an almighty onslaught from the North London cup kings and survived. This time the early pressure was a lot more measured and in some ways cautious from Spurs although Andy Hughes nervous pass back to Casper almost presented Defoe with a gift in the first two minutes. Not for the last time Casper, what a fantastic goalie he can be in the big games, thwarted the diminutive Spurs striker.
Spurs are pushing for a Champions League spot this year and their confidence and quality showed through as they set about creating chances using the beanpole Crouch as an ideal foil for the nippy Defoe but each time the ball hurtled towards the goal Casper was equal to the threat. Bassong found himself free in the box and hit a centre halves's shot into the kop, Bales fizzing shot deflected off Bromby but super hero, Casperman, pulled off another superb save. when Leeds did hold of the ball they looked comfortable with Snoddy attracting special attention with as Spurs doubled and trebled up on him to stop the Scottish threat. Leeds hearts were lifted when we eventually threatened Gomes in the Spurs goal, Snoddy weaved his magic and crossed a looping ball that Beckford somehow climbed above the hesitant goalie to smack the bar with a header. The spineless ref gave a free kick for a non existent foul on the keeper. Maybe Jermaine had shouted at him? He certainly didn't touch him!
At the other end Defoe and Lubo raced for a long through ball..... Defoe went to ground on the edge of the box with an outrageous yellow and no free kick? Could 35 minutes have already gone? We were witnessing another cup classic. "90 mile an hour" was eulogising about everything Leeds and yours truly was chipping in with some every so slightly bias comments............things were looking good. That is until Defoe put Spurs in front with a complete mis hit that looped over the stranded Casperman. Bollox! Good job I only thought that!
Leeds' response was magnificent as they sparked into life playing Premier League style football that rocked Spurs onto the back foot. Becchio was harrying without throwing himself on the floor, Snoddy was testing the Spurs left flank defence and Beckford was smouldering like a caged tiger. In midfield Doyle and Howson were now finding space. As the game sped to half time the home team's momentum gained in speed. Then the impossible happened again as we entered Fergie time at the end of the half. Snoddy again twisted and turned the full back and a desperate tackle put the ball over the line for a corner or was it a goal kick, Spurs said the latter. The resulting corner was scrambled clear by the Spurs back line.............Bromby reacted first fired the ball back into the box.....................Beckford's eyes lit up as his reaction was light years in front of Bassong and he swivelled and sent the ball goalwards only for Gomes to parry the ball to the poaching Becchio..........Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal Leeds.......the crowd erupted in a crescendo of deafening joy...........Thom Kirwin, Peter Lorimer and yours truly blew the mic on the commentary and all was well with the world again. Leeds piled forward and the Spurs team were grateful for the HT whistle. What a half!
Thing was would Spurs buckle or would they regroup and go up a gear? The ITV guys on the gantry were ecstatic. Leeds were once again stirring the pot and coming up with more cup magic. You could see "viewing figures" spinning round in their expectant eyes!
The 2nd half didn't quite go to plan though after the first 10 minutes when Spurs looked rattled, The ego that is David Bentley was having a running "domestic" with Defoe that resembled two spoilt kids fighting over an X Box.............but once they settled down Spurs assumed control with their Premier stars stepping up to the plate. Not that Leeds didn't battle heroically but time and again the extra class that the North Londoners had in their tank showed. Casperman was still enjoying himself though and repelled everything that came near him.............and when Defoe did get the ball in the net it was chalked off for offside. Inevitably though Spurs did take the lead just after the 70 minute mark. Bentley turned inside the battling Hughes and then put a teasing ball into the path of Defoe who turned the ball into the net past a despairing Casperman. I know it's unprofessional but this summariser was overcome with a fans post goal deadly silence as the realisation that our cup dream was slipping away. The Spurs fans who'd made the trip started to celebrate with the irritatingly slow version of "when the spurs go marching in"
Leeds didn't give in though but struggled to put together a final threat on the Spurs goal. White and Grella came on to add fresh legs. Bromby went agonisingly close to pulling a rabbit out of the hat as his header glanced over the bar and when everyone piled forward for a last Hail Mary free kick Defoe broke unchallenged to drive a final nail through Leed's coffin. 3.1 was a tad harsh on Leeds but this time our mixture of skill and bloody mindedness just hadn't been enough. The Leeds faithful paid homage to their heroes at the final whistle in one last defiant chorus of MOT. An ITV executive scuttled away behind me muttering disconsolately under his breath. All of a sudden some non Leeds fans like us again!
So the fairy tale cup run comes to end and we're back to reality with a trip to Hartlepool on Saturday. The Yorkshire Radio producer revealed his squeaky bum moment of the night when I'd made a quip about Harry and his tax form as I stayed for the final throes of the programme and the incoming texts and E mails...................Please note Seona that they won't read out a tweet out with "Theatre of Shite" in it, lol
The lasting memory of the cup run will be Beckford's goals at Manure and Spurs and the hope that they brought to the long suffering Leeds fans. Now it's back to the league and the Paint Pot trophy, but like a Lion that's got a taste of blood, this has given the fans and the club an ample reminder of what big game nights are like and we will be back for more in the very near future!
Can't wait!

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