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Saturday, 20 February 2010

Leeds v Brighton Feb 20th 2010

There's nothing like a bright sunny match day to lift the spirits. Despite Leeds' faltering form of late Selby station was well populated with fans of the mighty whites eagerly awaiting the Leeds bound train. Not surprisingly there were lots of opinions flying about as to the reason for our mid season blip. "Loan signings upset the dressing room" "Those cup games have killed us" and a basic "they're rubbish" reflected the wide range of views. As for the Happy Chocker he believes the Pharaohs curse has something to do with it.........................especially with the spookily timed "The Mummy's return" showing on ITV at 3pm, just as we kick off today's game!

Me, optimistic as ever, thought that this was the game where we will turn it round and win ugly if necessary. I also thought that the other 5 teams in the top six had a good chance of winning so dropping more points was unthinkable!

Supporting Leeds is often a birthright and for most it is a burning passion that drives you to great sacrifices just to watch the team. So I wasn't that shocked to meet two guys who were over from Sweden to watch their favourites. As one explained, in an accent similar to the Muppets Swedish Chef, they were stopping for the Oldham game aswell. He was well dressed for the occasion with blue and yellow face paint. I wished him well hoping that he saw a good game having made the effort to come. Mmmmmm?

Watching Manure get beat in the members bar was a good omen. Lubo appeared for the dreaded player interview with Peter Lorimer, in doing so confirming that the bandaged one would be back in the team. Things were looking up. News that Howson, Hughes and Doyle along with Kissy were in the team at the expense of Crowe, Bromby, Snoddy and Becchio raised a few eyebrows. Lord Grayson had shuffled his pack ruthlessly and with McSheffrey starting up front alongside Mr Beckford it was clear the game plan was to keep the ball on the floor, wasn't it?
So we were set for the kick off against a team struggling against relegation and with a healthy expectant crowd inside the Theatre of Hope surely we would secure 3 points?

The first twenty minutes had a familiar look to it though as a pedantic ref, a nervous home side and a hard working away team all contributed to a scrappy and disjointed game. Gus Poyet obviously was aware of Beckford's strengths and his weaknesses so the robust treatment he received wasn't entirely unexpected. The hopeful anticipation of the Happy Chocker and I was fast disappearing to be replaced by frustration and gut wrenching fear of another cock up.
For all the industry and effort in the first half we only had one shot on goal that the goalie easily dealt with, Howson should have done better when he was released in the box but could only find the side netting...........and he was one of the better performers of the first half.

It's a wonder my head was still attached to my neck the amount of times I had shaken it as yet another move floundered with a mis directed pass or a long hopeful punt up field. Still the muffled boo's at half time didn't help the cause. Presumably the fans booing were raising the rafters when we stuffed Manure at OT? So why "inspire" the same players with the pointless booing? The irony is that we sing Marching on TOGETHER...................definition of together "All for one and one for all"

Larry's experiment of playing McSheffery in a striking role should have worked if we'd kept the ball on the deck. But we didn't and without the redoubtable Becchio all the high balls were returned with interest by the grateful Brighton defenders. The service to Beckford was non existent.

Leeds were playing towards the kop in the 2nd half. 3 guys behind me decided that the way to inspire the team was to remove their shirts and sing waccoe continuously . Admirable commitment to the cause in sub zero temperatures.....................but they were making me feel cold so god knows how they felt. The quality on the pitch didn't change as Leeds tried to unlock the Brighton defence but to do that we had to get some shots on goal and the fact that the giant goalie in front of us still hadn't got a speck of dirt on his kit as the clock ticked to 60 minutes clearly influenced Larry's decision to introduce Mad Max to the battle. Now Simon Grayson is an excellent manager and very well respected by the vast majority of Leeds fans but his withdrawal of Howson to make way for Gradel was puzzling to say the least. The No 14 was one of the few players who was having a decent game?

Mad Max did create some much needed urgency to the game with his unique brand of high tempo play and when Becchio finally replaced Johnson and Snoddy came on for McSheffrey hopes lifted amongst the anxious whites fans. At least now we were winning the long balls down the middle!

With 15 minutes to go Mad Max controlled a knock down in the box and hit a sweet shoot millimeters over the bar. He should have scored. I picked my head up off the floor and attached it back to my neck. The Leeds crowd were still coming to terms with the missed chance when Kissy bundled over a Brighton player in the box................Penalty. Of course they converted it to go 1 up with just over 10 minutes to go. Bollox!

The belief that we would not be going to Wembley for the play offs as we would comfortably secure one of the automatic spots was now dead in the water. Losing this game would shove us back into the pack chasing one of the top two places. The best we could do is hope for an equaliser...................even that wouldn't be much use as every body else would obviously win. Depression descended on block N4 row DD.

Leeds cannot be accused of giving in though and sparked by the Brighton goal Leeds did pile forward. Brighton's Virgo got himself a red card for trying to drop kick Max into the stand before Becchio's glancing header went the wrong side of the bar typifying the game. Kissy shot wide from a scrambled corner but it was all too little too late we'd lost!

Then in the 95th minute another ball into the box dropped to Snoddy who drilled home a life saving goal. He grabbed the ball and raced back to the centre circle to try and instigate a most unlikely win. Alas time was finally against us and we had to settle for what at one time looked like an unlikely point.
The kop took their frustration out on the ref with a chorus of "you're not fit to referee" some fans with black humour sung "Wemberlee"

Poor as the game was, and it was poor their goalie only had two shots to deal with all afternoon, we had still gained a point on leaders Norwich who fell to the Saints. Our fate is still in our own hands but unless this dramatic loss of form is arrested quickly we will soon be jockeying for positions in the play off mix. Unthinkable before Xmas but stark reality now.

In the queue for the shuttle buses news that Udders had won at Poolie increased concerns and worries about our imminent trip to the Galpharm. I just can't believe how we've gone from a team that was settled, confident and playing good attractive football to one full of nerves, wrong decisions and quite frankly poor performances right across the pitch.
Still supporting Leeds isn't supposed to be easy is it? Wonder what the Swedish guys thought of it? The Pharaoh's curse is still alive and well. Let's hope we can kill it against might Oldham on Tuesday.
Can't wait.


jesmondwhite said...

a crucial goal. if we had lost, the crowd would have turned big style. it's bought some time, and might be one of the most important goals of the season. I hope.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Think you may well be right on that one.

BenLUFC said...

Dear Marching on Together

I am a season ticket holder like your self but unable to attend away games with lack of money.
I enjoy reading your match reports because you say what you see and unlike official match reports you write accurate and solid reports.
Id like to hear what you think about the booing, i totaly dissagree with the booing because its just going to make the confidence of the players even lower.
What do you think is behind our loss of form?
Leeds fans need to start beliving again, were 3 points from the top with a game in hand, 2 wins and were right back in it.
Keep it up with the reports.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks for the comments. i too think the booing is pointless and stupid. Just can't understand how the wheels have come off so spectactularly. The next three games could well define our season. If we don't win two of those we will be in the play off mix and then anything could happen!

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