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Monday, 25 October 2010

Leeds Utd v Cardiff City 25th Oct 2010

Let's face it our record in night matches this season has been nothing short of embarrassing so it was no surprise to detect a distinct lack of optimism in the air as we trudged down Elland Road towards the Theatre of Hope for the clash with the Bluebirds.  The Premiership quality in the Cardiff side and the painful memories of recent tussles under the Elland Road floodlights combined to lower the pre match expectation level to an all time low.  The Happy Chocker was even predicting a 3.0 defeat!  Wouldn't be as bad as that would it?

All of a sudden our spirits were lifted as Kasper Schmeichel's name unexpectedly appeared on the team sheet.  Maybe, just maybe, this might not be that bad after all?

The first twenty minutes sparked some hope in the battle hardened Leeds fans amongst the 20,000 crowd.  Yes Cardiff looked comfortable on the ball and seemed intent on raiding our flanks but when we got the ball we got the ball forward and started to vaguely threaten the Welsh goal.  Alex Bruce, in for Naylor, flashed a couple of headers towards the general direction of the goal. Howson sent a searing shot wide of the post and hopes started to rise around the famous old stadium.  Then it happened.  Yet another schoolboy error in defence allowed a long hopeful punt to bounce unchallenged, Bruce and Kasper then left the ball for each other to allow the impressive Bothroyd to poke the ball into an empty net.  My "plan for the worst and hope for the best" strategy for the evening was starting to take shape. A sinking feeling in my stomach appeared to be matched by some of the shoulders of the Leeds team as the goal totally deflated the relatively bright opening the men in white had enjoyed.  Not for the first time this season I was surprised to get to half time without conceding again as Bellamy, Chopra, Bothroyd and Whittingham wreaked havoc on the unsure home defence. The cold weather and the ice cold pre match pints had me scuttling quickly towards the gents for the half time debate. "they've got too much class for us" a perceptive fan observed.  There can't have been a more succinct comment in the Sky studio. I took my place for the 2nd period with an inherent fear of the impending doom that was going to descend on the Theatre of Hope.

To stand any chance we had to boss the first 15 minutes after the restart but it was the Welshmen who simply changed gear and overran a wilting Leeds team with 3 goals in 10 minutes.  I could only sit there and watch in horror as once again all the lifeblood drained from the team in the face of far superior play by a team who possess oodles more quality than is available at Leeds. The last twenty minutes of the game was played like an exhibition match as Cardiff showed their class by passing the ball around with ease and apparently without breaking sweat.  Nunez and Gradel made cameo appearances for Leeds but against a team coasting at 4.0 it was all a bit too little too late.  The Welsh fans continued the tradition of away fans belting out a chorus of "this is the best trip I've ever been on" from the cheese wedge.  Another confidence shattering defeat ended with the ref's final whistle.  Cardiff thoroughly deserved their victory and showed what a class act they are to the watching Sky TV viewers and the Leeds faithful at Elland Road.

After defeats to Barnsley, Leicester and Preston this was the ultimate reality check.  Cardiff are an established Championship side with players of Premiership quality well represented in their squad.  They simply had far too much class for us tonight.  Leeds were promoted to the Championship with a team that didn't dominate in League 1 but were able to stumble into automatic promotion with a mixture of Beckford's goals and a dogged team spirit.  Since then we have lost Beckford and not added any apparent quality to that League 1 team.  It should not be a surprise then when we come up against the better championship sides we are found wanting.  How many of tonight's Leeds team would get in the Cardiff starting eleven?  Possibly Kasper but certainly not any of the outfield players.  It's a question whether many would unseat any of the current Cardiff bench with Koumas and MacPhail having to bide their time on the subs bench. That's the reality of the situation.  Things are looking bleak for Leeds at this moment in time and with the January transfer window still weeks away the strains of "In the bleak mid-winter" could soon be replacing MOT as the song of choice in LS11.

I heard one disgruntled fan ask nobody in particular "Where do we go from here" on the way back to the car.  The answer is Glanford Park on Saturday for the game against an in form Scunthorpe Utd.  It's not one I will travel to with anything other than resigned apprehension.  Marching on Together, wherever and whenever.
Can't wait.


Anonymous said...

I'm optimistic. I thought we played fairly well, and were slightly unlucky to end up 0-4. The first goal was uncharacteristic from the SonsOfScum, and the second goal offside. What gave me hope last night was that we didn't stop competing and looking lively, even at 0-4. Our early season position gave us false hope for a great season - as Grayson rightly said, the change from Div 1 to Championship is a difficult one. We're still nearer the top than the bottom on points, with some 'easier' games coming up.


Charles Letterman

Andrew Butterwick said...

thanks for the comments. My main concern is the manner of the defeat last night coming after serious set backs against Barnsley, Leicester, Preston et al. Cardiff looked good because they played simple "give and goes" and kept possession at will. We don't have the quality in the team to play that style which is why we revert to long hopeful balls up to the front two. A combination of poor service and a lack of ability to hold the ball up usually means the moves break down and possession given up.
I think the late pressure we exerted was more to do with Cardiff taking their foot off the pedal rather than Leeds getting on top. After saying that Nunez looked bright. Summing up......we need a couple of quality players preferably one who can lead on the pitch.......and quickly.

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