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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Groundhog day.........Oakwell revisited!

Well where do I start with this post? Let's try the beginning and the usual mad dash from work to get to the Theatre of Hope for the latest instalment of Leeds' championship adventure against Preston North End.  The starting 11 stayed the same from the turgid win against the Blunts but Clayton and Nunez claimed places on the bench in place of the injured McCormack and the suspended Snoddy.  The pre match debate was generally positive amongst the faithful in the Captains Lounge.  The heady heights of 5th in the table persuaded most fans to plump for a Leeds victory.  I commented to the Happy Chocker that it couldn't be as dull as Saturday's game so rashly predicted a 4:3 win for the whites.  Mmmmm.

The game started with both teams intent on playing let's say an "expansive" game and it was PNE who were one up before most fans had chance to draw breath. A ball down the Preston left found the North End winger in space and when Hughes hesitated and allowed him into the box I cringed as he struck a firm shot goalwards...............Higgs could only parry the ball straight to the rotund Parkin who was standing completely unmarked in the 6 yard box as he gratefully side footed the ball home. 1.0 Preston.  A slight sinking feeling in my stomach wiped away the pre match optimism. For the next 10 minutes both teams attacked with naive abandon and it is was therefore no surprise when Leeds equalised.  The impressive McCartney surged forward and dinked a lovely ball into the box for Becchio to finish with a trademark header.  1.1. Stomach started to feel better.

What happened next was bizarre.  Leeds took control of the game by scoring 3 unanswered goals playing some lovely attacking football whilst at the same time looking as if they would concede every time Parkin or Hulme got the ball.  Bruce headed the 2nd after a horrendous defensive header by Preston and the sublime Somma scored two sweetly finished goals that can only add to his growing reputation.  "1:0 and you fucked it up" sang the joyous whites fans.  But there's only 40 minutes gone?  Some Preston fans appeared to head for the exits at the same time their team were winning corner after corner as they attempted to get back in the game.  Even Leeds couldn't mess this up...........could they?  Well just before half time they planted a tiny seed of doubt in the fragile confidence of this Leeds fan when Parkin helped himself to a 2nd goal as he brushed aside paper thin challenges to sweep the ball past Higgs.  Did I predict a 4:3 win?

Half time came with the score a remarkable 4:2.  The "gents debate" intuitively centred on the defensive frailties especially Hughes exposure at right back.  Bizarre when we were 4:2 up but understandable.  All we needed to do in the 2nd half was close the game out and maybe pinch another goal.  Sounds simple doesn't it? Ah but Leeds don't do simple do they?

Fired up by a Fergie pep talk PNE continued to batter Leeds and within 10 minutes of the restart they were unbelievably level after a goal direct from a corner and a penalty. My stomach was now in a triple reef knot as  I witnessed the team I worship disintegrate in front of my eyes. "4:1 and you fucked it up" sang the delirious North End fans................but they hadn't even started inflicting the misery.  They now scented blood and went for the kill and just as happened at Oakwell Leeds capitulated in spectacular style as Parkin and then Hulme gorged themselves on the feeble and woeful defending from the Leeds backline. The last twenty minutes of the game I sat in stunned silence.  I was imagining Jeff Stelling in the Sky Sports studio shouting out with justified incredulity "there's been yet another goal at Elland Road"  Preston were now 6:4 up and could have scored more.  The ref's whistle put us out our misery. Embarrassing doesn't even get near to a suitable adjective for the Leeds performance.  I could add abject, spineless, lacking leadership, pathetic and it wouldn't even scratch the surface.  Why couldn't any of the players or Lord Larry do anything about Parkin and Hulme doing as they pleased all night?  Why can't we mark tightly? and a million more questions were rushing through my thoughts as we slunk home. I've witnessed numerous "worst match evers" in the last few years with Leeds (Hereford, Histon, Swindon, etc, etc) but this has got to top them all.  How can a professional team throw away a 4.1 lead and concede 5 unanswered goals?  As Kammy would say.......unbelievable, un-fucking-believable!

Ipswich await on Saturday at Portman Road. Where does Lord Larry go from here to prepare a team for Saturday? Who knows?  Hopefully he does.
Can't wait.

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