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Sunday, 7 March 2010

Leeds United v Brentord Mar 2010

There was a chill in the air as we gathered at Selby station for the short trip to the latest crucial game in Leeds' league campaign. The Happy Chocker and the Quiet One, along with most of the regulars, were subdued at the prospect of the game with Brentford. This was definitely a "no win" game whatever the result. We really should beat teams like Brentford if we are to depart the wilderness of League 1 but a cursory glance at their record shows that they have decent defensive record and their front two have suddenly found their shooting boots. It might be 49 years since QPR's biggest rivals travelled to ER but this wasn't going to be an easy game. The knowledge that Charlton and Norwich had relatively easy games against Stockport and Yeovil respectively did nothing for the pre match nerves.

Much of the pre match debate surrounded Mr Dickov's signing and place on the bench for today's game. Why does Larry think we need him? What must Grella and Kandol think? Will he do what Dougie Freedman did? Will he score the winner in the play off final? Questions, questions, questions...........we would soon discover some of the answers.

Aidey White came into the side at left back for Lowry and Bromby replaced the injured Naylor at the back. We were ready for the off along with the 2000 away fans who had grasped the opportunity to watch their favourites at our famous old stadium.

Leeds started brightly attacking the South Stand end and had most of the early possession. Thoughts that Brentford might play a defensive 8:1:1 formation were proved not to be entirely true as when they did get possession they broke with purpose and no little skill. After saying that Casper had plenty of time to do his stretches and exercises in front of us as he watched Leeds try to batter down the away defences for the first 25 minutes. Snoddy hit a stinging drive that the Arsenal loanee goalie turned away, Beckford headed over at the back post in similar fashion to last week at the Galpharm, the atmosphere in the home end was nervous, tetchy and subdued in contrast to the noisy Bees fans enjoying their day out at ER.

Casper put his exercise regime to one side on the half hour mark as he thwarted Brentford's Wood with a trademark "one on one" like stop. Now I'm a relatively cool, calm and collected guy but in the disabled seats in front of me there is a guy who walks with a stick. Whatever the reason for the stick it doesn't stop him jumping up and down like a demented ballet dancer throughout the match and waving the said stick about his head much to his fellow fans annoyance. I can just about put up with that.......................but when he continually slags off his own team's players things tend to get a bit heated. So this week it was me who cracked and delivered my own less than complimentary views on his parenthood and knowledge of football and suggested that he goes forth and finds another hobby to fill his Saturday afternoon's after he called Casper a "Fucking useless C***" just once too often. It did quieten him down for a short time.
Back on the pitch Leeds continued to dominate without grabbing that vital first goal. Norwich and Charlton were both winning.

Beckford was finding space and testing the goalie but a combination of the goalies agility, bad luck and lack of cutting edge was definitely hurting Leeds. 0.0 at Half time. The toilet talk at half time was laced with worry, depression and deja vu. Not very inspiring.
Will from Selby hit the post with the half time "half way" challenge. Sort of summed up Leeds play, so near yet so far away!

Leeds started the 2nd half attacking the muted kop. Well it's difficult to sing when your guts are in a knot, fingers crossed and having a mini panic attack. If we lose this and Charlton win...........................Noooooooooooooooooooo!
Hughes went off injured to be replaced by the giant Lubo early in the 2nd half. The Brentford goalie remained on high alert as Beckford and co pepered his box with dangerous balls but not quite enough to raise hopes in the crowd. Then just as we had all feared they scored. A slightly fortunate goal against the run of play but still a goal. Double Bollox!

The goal sparked more urgency into the already nervy Leeds team as they piled forward desperately looking for an equaliser. Beckford looked the most likely going close on number of occasions. The ball was going wider than in recent matches and both Snoddy and McSheffrey were benefiting against a tiring Brentford defence. But still the goal didn't come. Mr Stick waver delivered another load of unjustified abuse at a player in a white shirt and this time the Happy Chocker launched into a verbal broadside at the prize knobhead.

Then just when it seemed this was another in a long line of disappointing games at ER that we were expected to win and didn't we scored. Snoddy and Howson were instrumental in the build up and when the ball fell to McSheffrey at the far post he rolled the ball to Beckford who coolly sidefooted the ball into the net. Gooooooooooooooooooal. Mr Stick waver was doing somersaults in celebration of the very players he had just been abusing constructing a goal to draw us level? Funny old game isn't it?

There was still time to get the winner and as Becchio gave way for the unfortunately named Dickov hope was in the air. There were a tantalising 18 minutes left for Leeds to get that vital winner................or concede another! Leeds had the better of the final throes of the match with Lubo heading against the post, Bromby blazed over when it was easier to hit the target and there were various other scrambles that never quite looked like a goal would result. Dickov struggled to adjust to the pace and the game finished with the travelling West London fans celebrating as if they'd won a cup. The rest of the 25,000 crowd shuffled away in excrutiating disappointment.

On the shuttle bus back to the station I sat next to a Brentford fan. "We just wanted to enjoy the day, how you didn't score more than one is beyond me but you'll still go up automatically" he offered. Mmmmmm not sure there were many on the bus who thinks it will be that simple?
Since that glorious day at the Theatre of Shite we have gone 11 league games that have yielded only 11 points. Clearly that is not promotion form but we still sit second place in the table with a game in hand against both top and 3rd. We have still to play both teams so our destiny is still firmly in our own hands but with a testing run of games on the horizon we desperately need to rediscover the knack of scoring goals and winning matches.........................if not we will be scrapping it out in the Play Offs with an inevitable final against Millwall to look forward to.
My bum's just got a bit squeakier.
Tranmere away on Tuesday and a chance to extend our 3 match unbeaten run or will it be more trauma in this season of highs and lows for Leeds United? One thing for sure.....
I can't wait.

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